It is hard to choose which way to go: facility care or home health care. Many families mistakenly believe that by moving into a facility, all of their health care issues will be solved. Adult children are especially vulnerable to the notion of “putting Mom or Dad somewhere that provides/takes care of/fixes everything.” Nevertheless, if Mom or Dad suffers from cognitive impairment or other chronic, debilitating illnesses, then these “problems” go with them to the self-contained facility environment. Many times, a person’s confusion and agitation is exacerbated by the move to a strange place.

As a first step to securing help outside the family, it is always easier to have the help come to you. Forget about packing and moving to access the extra help. A home health caregiver can come to your home on an as-needed basis or part-time, according to your schedule. This is much more affordable than renting at a facility or committing to a lease. The national average cost of a month’s stay at an assisted living facility has jumped to $3,000. The rental rates in the South Florida area can be two to three times that amount.

The second most important issue is the care itself. With home health care, you get one-on-one attention. You do not have to “share” your caregiver with 20 other facility roommates! There is also the importance of being in charge of your life. In your own home, you tell the caregiver when and what you want to eat. You wake up when you want. You have your bath or shower when you want. At a facility, there is a pre-set schedule for everything and everybody. I visited a facility recently, which had a sign posted at its dining room, “Apples and oranges will only be served at breakfast, and not at lunch or dinner.” This was not a joke!

The other reality is that you may be required to hire your own private duty after you move into a facility! This happens frequently when a resident has cognitive impairment or behavioral problems, or demands more attention than the facility is willing to provide. By the time you add up those two long-term expenses, then you really should have stayed at home with full-time care.

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