Choice is an important concept within the elder care services industry. Given the close, personal nature of in-home elder care, it’s important that care is personalized for each individual client. Furthermore, it’s important that clients have a say in how their services are personalized.
Great elder care agencies give seniors plenty of choices, allowing them to structure care as they see fit. Other providers offer limited flexibility and control, giving clients limited options for customized care.
At a glance, you might not think that this makes a big difference. But in the world of elder care services, the more control you’re afforded, the easier it is to give your loved one the life they want to live.
Why Customization Matters in Elder Care
Most people think of elder care services as a means of “aging in place,” i.e., living at home for as long as possible. Without in-home elder care, older adults may need to move into an assisted living or nursing care facility. With elder care, they can continue living in the place where they feel most comfortable and secure: at home. This is a big deal for U.S. seniors, 90% of whom wish to age in place for as long as possible.
Yet “aging in place” only tells part of the story. Elder care services aren’t only there to help seniors remain in the same physical space. They’re also there to help seniors continue their preferred way of life. A caregiver can prepare favorite meals, assist with light housekeeping, offer accompaniment on social outings, and help seniors maintain their lifestyle in any number of other ways.
The ideal elder care services provider will accommodate your loved one’s lifestyle preferences, as well as his or her unique age-related concerns. This is done through customized elder care services, in which the client gets to dictate key aspects of care. This way, your loved one can build care around their existing lifestyle, receiving care on their schedule and according to their personal preferences.
Compare this with pre-set caregiving programs. A pre-set approach forces your loved one to rebuild their life around their elder care services. Instead of continuing their usual routine, your loved one may need to accommodate their caregiver’s schedule. Instead of eating their favorite meals, your loved one may need to dine from their caregiver’s recipe collection. Instead of taking part in treasured hobbies and activities, your loved one may need to give up these pastimes.
With customized elder care services, your loved one won’t just continue to live in their home. They’ll also continue to live on their terms. The takeaway is simple: The more control they have during the care-planning process, the higher the quality of care that your loved one can expect.
Choosing the Right Elder Care Services
Different elder care providers offer different levels of customization, so you’ll need to research different companies to find the right provider. You might find the perfect elder care agency on your first consultation, or you might need to interview several agencies and caregivers before making your decision.
This process will be a lot easier if you know what you need from an elder care services provider. Before your first consultation, spend time speaking with your loved one about how they envision their life with elder care. What does their current routine look like? How important is it that they continue with this routine? Which aspects of their lifestyle are they most attached to? What are their biggest concerns about elder care?
By asking and thinking about these questions, you and your loved one will have a much stronger sense of what you’re looking for in an elder care services provider. When evaluating different providers, you can ask questions about:
- What kinds of scheduling options are available for my loved one?
- Can scheduling be modified around my loved one’s existing routines?
- Will caregivers support my loved one’s favorite pastimes and activities?
- How much input will my loved one have in meal planning?
- Will care services be adjusted for my loved one’s specific needs?
- What systems exist to help my loved one find the right caregiver?
This pre-consultation process will also give you a firm sense of how to personalize care services. This way, you can to take an active role in the care-planning process. When you find the right elder care services provider, you’ll be ready to make the necessary choices to ensure high-quality care for your loved one.
Do you have a loved one in need of elder care services? Call your local Visiting Angels® office today to request a free in-home consultation and discuss your loved one’s options for customized care.