Independence, safety, memories, and easier days are gone. Your loved one is going through a difficult period in their life. If you are the guardian to a senior in home care, there are several ways you can make both their life and yours smoother.
1. Financing a New House:
“But I can’t just go buy a new home!” We hear you. But this might in fact be an easier solution if you have a senior in home care. Think about all the renovations, including things like a tub repair, that you would have to purchase otherwise. Not to mention the potential inconvenience of a roommate. Perhaps you could instead buy a house next door. So how do you afford that? Financing a new house can be easy if you speak to the right mortgage company.
To get you started, here are some tips:
Start saving now. A lot of lenders permit less than 20% for a down payment! You can find some first-time homebuyer programs that allow as little as 3% down. Although, keep in mind that if you put down less than 20% it could mean higher costs or paying for mortgage insurance. Play around with down payment calculators to consider the best options for your lifestyle. If you want the smallest mortgage payment possible, choose a 30-year fixed mortgage.
Look at different types of loan options. For example, FHA loans are loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which permit down payments as low as 3.5%. Or, there are always VA loans. Those are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and sometimes require no down payment at all. You can also look into loan assistance programs from the state or local programs if you’re looking to buy a house for a senior in home care. In addition to federal programs, plenty of states offer assistance programs for first-time homebuyers. These can have perks like down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, tax credits, and discounted interest rates. Even your county could have first-time homebuyer programs. Collect quotes. Besides prices, ask lenders if they’d allow discount points.
If you want to start from scratch, there are options for new home construction. Determine how much you can afford and what needs to be built. Don’t know where to start? Let’s check your credit score. When you apply for a mortgage loan, your credit will be the key factor in whether you’re approved. Plus, it will probably determine your interest rate or the loan terms. Immediately dispute any errors that could drag down your credit score (you should do this regardless!) and consider how to improve your credit. Then, hire a buyer agent to consider lots and link you up with constructors who know how to make an ideal house for a senior in home care.
2. Modifying an Existing House:
If you’ve decided to just spice up your existing home to accommodate your senior in home care then you need to find a remodeling company.
The number one modification to look into is tubs. If you need tub repair you’ll want to consider the faucet, how clean the filter is, a hose, the showerhead, a stool for sitting inside a shower, rugs to prevent slips, and other additions.
You don’t necessarily need a professional to improve the bathroom’s safety. You can buy things like a $10 Kohree automatic plug-in LED night light to help the senior in home care see their path and reduce fall risk when going to the bathroom at night. Or, a simple wall-mounted grab bar to provide secure support to prevent slips and falls. Mount them both next to the toilet and in the tub or shower. Also look into a good high-grip tape to secure the handles. It will give your senior in home care a more secure hold if their hands are wet or oily. You can also look into a toilet safety frame to help the senior in home care stay safe. There’s also tub grip clear anti-slip bathtub coating, which is a
non-slip treatment for bathrooms that works better than stick-on products.
For the toilet, look into a raised toilet seat. One simple, easy to install, raised toilet seat will make the world of a difference for a senior at home trying to get up from a toilet seat. This or a sliding transfer bench is simple to install. But sometimes you can’t install a grab bar, so you could instead look at a floor to ceiling pole grab bar. Plus, those aren’t permanent!
One thing to remodel is your windows. A home window service can actually be cheaper if you have a senior in home care, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers grants to seniors through the Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loans and Grants program. Seniors must be over 62 to qualify and have an income that falls below 50% of the area median. Perhaps they need to be lower for a senior in a wheelchair, or perhaps you just need more windows so they don’t feel stifled.
You’ll also want to look into residential roofers. Seniors should definitely never work on a roof alone, so don’t leave them in a situation where a senior in home care could end up wanting to try and get up there to fix something themself. There should always be a ladder on a solid level surface if there’s repair work being done, but don’t leave one around with a senior in home care who may be prone to reckless behavior.
3. Tracking Health Resources:
There are plenty of resources to help keep a senior in home care healthy. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has multiple agencies to provide programs that improve the well-being of a senior in home care. For example, the National Institute on Aging has plenty of information on health for a senior in home care. Or, healthfinder.gov looks at older adult health and offers tools to help you and those you care about stay healthy. This also comes in Spanish. There’s also the Administration on Aging for eldercare locators to connect you, for free, with services for older adults and their families.
4. Investing in Professionals:
The best health resource for a senior in home care is a stock of good doctors on hand. Make sure you have the number and address to an urgent care center available to get help for your loved one when you need it most.
The right eye doctor, for example, is key once we start to lose vision. For a senior in home care, this should be one contact they have on speed dial. Particularly if someone is suffering from something like dementia, eyesight can be a vital tool to retain cognitive abilities. Occupational Safety and Health Administration stated in a report that 83% of learning happens visually for an average human being.
Make a quick Google search of seniors eye exams to find doctors near you. But even as a caretaker, there are ways you can protect your senior in home care from bad eyesight. Make sure they’re getting a healthy diet. Feed your senior in home care whole grains and cereals. Sugars and refined white flours, usually found in bread and cereal, may increase a person’s risk of age-related eye diseases according to All About Vision. Instead, they should eat 100% whole-grain bread and cereals with lots of fiber to slow down digestion and the absorption of sugars and starches.
Another tip to maintain vision is to eat healthy fats. The omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and canola oil help to prevent cataracts and dry eyes. Cook your senior in home care a fish or seafood meal twice weekly, or give them flax oil daily. Use canola oil for cooking or walnuts for snacks. One should also choose good sources of protein and avoid saturated fats that can increase your risk of macular degeneration. Finally, be sure they’re hydrated. Ensure that they drink healthy beverages such as vegetable juices, non-caffeinated herbal teas, fruit juices, and, of course, water. Why? Proper hydration could reduce irritation caused by dry eyes and prevent heat exhaustion during the warmer summer months.
5. Reading Senior Laws:
There are experts to help you in the areas you can’t handle yourself. An elder law attorney can help you understand law best, but here are some lowdowns from HG.org:
Firstly, let’s look at what elder law really is. It is”The area of legal practice pertaining to issues that affect older people (usually those over 60 years of age). The three primary focuses of elder law include estate planning; medicaid, disability and long-term care; and guardianship.”
That first part, estate planning, is a momentously important issue. A good lawyer can help your senior in home care decide what they will do with their belongings once they are gone. One must prepare and administer a will, but also advise the senior in home care and your family about the tax consequences of various inheritance strategies. For example, you’ll have to consider trusts. The next part, (Medicaid, disability, and long-term care) looks at the legal terminology around paying for the senior in home care’s medical needs. Most of your medical expenses will be incurred and totaled all together at the end of one’s life.
Essentially, there’s a lot to pay for. Therefore, ensuring sufficient coverage exists to cover those expenses is crucial. But simply having medical coverage is very often not enough. It could be that it is necessary to police the insurance providers to ensure that they are providing the quality of the coverage they had promised. Moving on from these financial considerations, they must then weigh exactly how far one wishes for medical practitioners to go in regard to extending their life. Leaving behind detailed plans about how to handle this, often meaning a form of a living will, can help prevent family fights, the suffering of loved ones, or uncertainty about how the elder wished to have their medical treatment handled. Then we must look at the third area of elder law: guardianship.
This deals with who can care for the senior in home care should their mental or physical capabilities begin to fade with old age (in one example, let’s say as a result of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or after a stroke). You might need to look into establishing a power of attorney for such person prior to the incapacitation so that the guardian can handle the business and legal affairs of the senior in home care. If there is no immediate family member or friend who can take on the responsibility, there are laws to appoint a guardian by the court, which detail how that person will be paid, what their legal obligations are to the senior in home care, and how they must administer and care for the estate.
But wait, there’s more. Elder law can touch on myriad more issues. It looks at:
- Commitment: When an elder is too disabled to live outside of a care facility
- Conservatorship: When the elder or someone entrusted with the senior in home care affairs begins to deplete the assets of the estate
- Elder abuse: There are too many cases where nursing homes did not properly care for those entrusted to them. Abuse can manifest as malnutrition, injuries, bed sores, or even death
- Retirement planning: The senior in home care might end up living a long time longer than in other decades so this careful retirement planning can be a key to be financially free during those years
There is a large and growing body of law to prevent crime against seniors and enforce penalties on those who take advantage of a senior in home care. For example we speak of laws such as consumer protections, nursing home abuse laws, and sentencing guidelines for crimes against older persons.
Seniors don’t want to spend their life in a hospital, they want to be home. Being a caretaker is not easy, but by checking on this list, you can be the guardian angel to a senior in home care. So last but not least, don’t forget to take care of yourself. A good caretaker is essentially a worker in home care for seniors but not necessarily paid if they’re a family member with, simultaneously, a fulltime job. So if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to others. Helping a senior in home care is a kind gesture but also a job.