Caregiving Challenges, Assistance Living at Home

Your loved one wants to continue living at home, independently, and you have concerns. But you can't be available all the time.

Helpful Highlights

  • Assistance for your loved one to remain living at home can come from a number of sources, you don't have to do it all yourself.

  • Even small contributions by family, friends, neighbors, volunteers, and others can ease caregiving burdens.

  • Discuss with your loved one what you're seeing, determine what they need to stay safe and well in their home, and match those needs to available solutions.

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Maybe your loved one has expressed they need some assistance at home, though more likely you have noticed changes in their ability to live at home safely. Your concern may also be the result of a recent health crisis or hospitalization. Whatever the reason, you feel your loved one may need help to stay in the home they love.

It’s never easy for your loved one to accept your help. They know you are busy with your own work, home, and family.  There are, of course, also financial considerations. Can they afford assistance? Though the bigger question for you may be, can they afford NOT to have assistance?  

When you start this discussion with your loved one, remember to put their wishes and desires first, and do this from the very beginning of the conversation. Consider opening with something like:

“You have told me you would like to continue living in your home. I want to help make that happen for you, safely and happily. Can we discuss both our concerns and explore the options? Would you like to start? Maybe tell me about the things you feel you need help with around the house.”

Starting with what they feel they need help with around the house tells you a few things: where and when you can insert yourself to help, exactly what kind of assistance they need (do they just need a handyman, or do they need ongoing personal care?), and most importantly - it will reveal what's most important to them and the things they really care about, whether that's yard work, kitchen and bathroom cleaning, shopping and cooking, or personal hygiene.

*Remember that their top priority may not be your top priority, but they are telling you what they need. Getting them what they need first then helps you get what you need!

Once you have identified their concerns and desires, you can work the following into the conversation and come up with potential solutions.

Family member(s) assistance

Caregiving isn't restricted to just you. Other family members can help. Come up with a schedule and assigned tasks. For example:

  • Mondays & Wednesdays - Bobby will collect the trash and take bins out to the curb for pick-up on trash day, as well as do any heavy lifting needed.

  • Tuesdays & Fridays - Rebecca will help with bathing and hygiene, as well as clean the bathroom.

  • Thursdays - I will come over to do laundry or vacuum, review bills, and fix a meal.

  • Saturdays - Monica will clean the kitchen, assist with grocery shopping, and prepare some meals for the week.

  • Sundays - Jack will take you out for lunch or dinner and change the linens.

  • Every morning and evening, someone will call or check-in (make a schedule that works for everyone).

Friend(s), neighbor(s), and other assistance

Have people check in when possible.

  • Have a neighbor check on your loved one if they haven't seen routine activity (coming out to get the paper, the mail, the empty trash bin, to sit on the porch, etc.).

  • Ask your friends to stop by if they are in your loved one's area to give them a bottle of water or thermos/jug of tea (seniors never drink enough!).

  • Coordinate with a local meal delivery program for meal delivery a couple of times per week.  They will ensure your loved one is properly set up to enjoy the meal, as well as alert you if no one answers the door.

  • If your loved one is involved in a church or other community center, get to know the other members and how they do outreach or volunteer.

Cost-based care (hired help)

Medicare and Medicaid have little to no coverage for personal care and housekeeping.  Housekeepers and personal care assistants are covered privately (out of pocket) or with long-term care insurance (if your loved one has it). Some Medicare Advantage plans have limited coverage.

  • Check your loved one’s insurance benefits to determine if there is coverage.

  • Long-term care insurance (LTCI) will provide assistance.  See Long Term Care Insurance Overview content.

  • Hire a housekeeper for home cleaning, meal prep, or errands. Housekeeping can be hired privately or through a home care agency. Note that professional cleaning or maid services will only do housekeeping, they will not do meal prep or errands.

  • Hire home health aides for personal care. Home health aides - also called personal care assistants or simply caregivers - can be hired through a home care agency or through other outlets, such as independent contractors and online services.

No content in this app, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Elderly man is smiling at his relative caregiver