The number of Americans who suffer from chronic health conditions that require home care is mind boggling. It is estimated that 55 million adults care for aging parents at home. In addition, since many adults are unable to devote their time exclusively to care for elderly loved ones, there are an estimated 2.3 million professional caregivers.
Couple this with the fact that about 92 percent of adults say they would prefer to stay in their own home rather live in a nursing home or assisted living and you can begin to understand the overwhelming need for home care.
This is why many New Jersey families struggle to find adequate care.
Take the case of Roberta S., who suddenly found herself searching for a way to care for her aging father after he suffered a number of health setbacks. Her father had always been a gregarious and hardy individual. Working in construction for many years, he prided himself on his toughness and physical fitness. At a time when many of her friends’ fathers had grown soft and paunchy, Roberta’s father was still lugging around large bags of cement for home projects and lifting heavy weights in his gym workouts.
However, soon after her mother died following a long battle with breast cancer, Roberta noticed that her father was not the same. He seemed a little slower, a little less likely to engage with others. Physically, he started complaining about feeling tired and lethargic and would be content to spend his time on the couch. He no longer went to the gym or did any work around the house.
Then, shortly after celebrating his 80th birthday, he suffered the first of several minor strokes. Roberta lived only 30 minutes away, but she realized her father could no longer live alone safely. Although she knew it would cause somewhat of an upheaval in her own family, she decided that the best place for her father was with her.
At first, everything worked out okay. As both Roberta and her husband worked and her children were at school most of the day, her father was still healthy enough to be alone while they were gone. However, when his diabetes and cardiovascular problems worsened, Roberta knew she had to make some changes. Since she would leave for work about 10 am, and her two teenage sons usually got home at 4 pm, she needed someone to watch her father for those six hours.
Her first inclination was to contact a home care agency. But a friend suggested she use a woman who had recently cared for the mother of a neighbor who had recently died. Roberta met the woman, found her to be very loving and caring, and hired her.
The first month went well. The woman doted on Roberta’s father and he very much enjoyed the attention she paid him. Shortly thereafter, however, the woman’s lack of training as a home health aide caught up with her. One day she was taking him down the front stairs of the house on their way to a nearby park when she realized she had forgotten to lock the front door. Leaving him on the steps for no more than a matter of seconds, she turned around horrified when she saw him tumble down the stairs.
Fortunately, aside from some cuts and bruises, the elderly man was none the worse for wear. Yet, Roberta knew she had dodged a bullet. The very next day she called the home care agency and arranged for a professionally trained home health aide to start immediately. ~
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