Many options exist for in-home care of the elderly. Each has advantages and disadvantages for both the aging parent or loved one and the adult child or other family member. Below, we address some of the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision about what is best for your family.
The following are the five options listed:
- Family Caregivers
- Home Health Care and Personal Care Aides
- Aging Life Care Professionals (formerly known as Geriatric Care Managers)
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
A family caregiver may be a spouse, an adult child or in-law, or a sibling who can step in and provide unpaid caregiving support for an aging loved one.
Pros of Family Caregiver
- Psychological satisfaction and growth
- Possibly increased comfort level of older person
- May save money
Psychological satisfaction and personal growth
Caregivers may feel a sense of satisfaction and personal growth (along with emotional distress). They may feel a sense of giving back to a relative who cared for them, feel satisfaction that their loved one is getting excellent care, and see increased life meaning and purpose.
Possibly increased comfort level of older person
An elderly person will often find comfort in being cared for by a family member. (Comfort may not extend to help with bathing, toileting, or other personal hygiene.)
May save money
If caregivers are retired or can afford to take unpaid leave, they can often perform many tasks, such as grocery shopping, transportation, and meals, for “free” instead of hiring paid aides or other help. As a result, families can save money.
Cons of Family Caregiver
- Charting new territory
- Difficulties balancing numerous obligations (e.g., work, children, parents)
- Increased stress and illness for the caregiver
Charting new territory
Aging is a complex process both physically and mentally. Most family members lack the expertise of health care professionals who specialize in the complexities of caring for the elderly. Family caregivers may simultaneously benefit from the advice and resources that professionals can provide.
May not live near parent
Long-distance caregiving can be especially challenging. Family members may not know how to navigate local resources in the elderly person’s area.
Difficulty balancing obligations
Work obligations and other family relationships can interfere with the ability to provide equal attention to all responsibilities. Loss of self -identity, constant worry, and lower levels of self-esteem may ensue.
Increased stress and illness
May increase conflict
Home Health Care Aides and Personal Care Aides
Home care aides and personal care aides care for people with chronic illnesses, cognitive impairments, or age-related challenges. This care is provided in the home and may include help with bathing and dressing, light housekeeping, scheduling appointments, shopping, and keeping clients engaged in their social networks.
Pros of Home Care and Personal Aides
- Manage day-to-day care
- Provide companionship
- Can be combined with other options for eldercare
Manage day-to-day care
Provide substantial help to a loved one, reducing family members’ worries. Can also free up time with loved ones to “just visit” rather than be overwhelmed by tasks when spending time together.
Offer part-time, full-time, or around-the-clock care for your aging loved one, providing companionship and enabling continued social activities.
Can be combined with other eldercare options
May be arranged through other care options, such as by an Aging Life Care Professional or Homethrive Care Guide. Offers a breadth of support.
Cons of Homecare Aid
- Revolving door
- Varying education and expertise
- Coverage vs cost
Turnover among home aides is high. What’s more, many agencies cannot guarantee the same caregiver day after day, resulting in frequent changes and adjustments.
Education and expertise
Home care and personal care aides may vary widely in their level of professionalism, education, and expertise.
Coverage vs cost
At times, loved ones may be alone at home. If 24/7 coverage is provided, costs can quickly soar.
Aging Life Care Professionals (Geriatric Care Managers)
Aging life care professionals are caseworkers who specialize in geriatric care and advocacy for older adults.
Pros of Aging Life Care Professionals
- Wholistic approach
- Personal service
- Community referrals
Trained in eight areas: health and disability, finances, housing, families, local resources, advocacy, legal, and crisis intervention.
Focus on aging person’s wants and needs and advocate for the individual. Typically, will make house calls and has an ongoing relationship. Are sometimes available 24/7 for urgent situations.
Familiar with and can provide referrals for supportive services (e.g., meal delivery, transportation, home care aides, etc.) in the communities they serve.
Cons of Aging Life Care Professionals
- Lack of availability across the US
- Third-party services
Lack of availability across the US
Spotty coverage; may not be available near your parent or loved one. Often not available in rural or remote areas.
May run $150-$200 per hour, which can add up quickly. Total costs may be unpredictable.
No direct authority over third-party workers, such as home care aides or transportation drivers—although they may be familiar with local reputations.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, support, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.
Pros of EAP
- Cost covered by employer
- Improved employee performance
- Single phone number for a host of issues
Employer pays for the EAP, so it is free to the individual.
Improved employee performance
EAP services offer several work advantages. They tend to decrease absenteeism, reduce medical costs as result of early identification of issues, and improve employee retention.
Single phone number
An EAP has a single phone number that can address a host of issues from aging, substance abuse, mental health issues, and more.
Cons of EAP
- Short term support
- Not experts in eldercare
- Referrals usually not vetted
Short term support
Generally short-lived support and limited to a set amount of sessions.
Not experts in eldercare
Cover a vast array of family and work issues. Not designed for the unique issues of aging parents or loved ones.
Referrals usually not vetted
Typically given a list of potential referral sources, similar to what you would find on the internet, which may be of varying quality or benefit.
Homethrive offers a unique set of support services to help manage concerns about an aging loved one. Members are typically employed adult children of aging parents, but the support is also appropriate for others, such as those who are retired or those with an aging spouse, sibling, aunt/uncle, or neighbor.
Pros of Homethrive
- Nationwide coverage
- Uniquely designed to support all family members
- Care Guide expertise and rapport
Available throughout the United States—even in rural and remote areas.
Uniquely designed to support all family members
Uniquely designed for caregivers AND aging loved ones. Addresses individual and family needs and dynamics.
Specific Care Guide Expertise and Rapport
Homethrive Care Guides are social workers with expertise in geriatrics, supporting you when you need it most, staying ahead of problems, and adapting to your family’s changing needs. Members are able to develop a rapport and ongoing communication with one specific professional Care Guide who knows your situation. Direct email and text messaging are available around the clock.
Easy to budget for monthly membership fee. May have free or subsidized access through employer.
Free 10-day trial
Offers a free 10-day trial of its Advisor level services, so you can see if it’s right for you and your family.
Cons of Homethrive
- Virtual care
- Pricing tiers
- Third-party services
Care Guide communication available via technology (e.g., phone, text, and email) rather than in-person visits.
Care Guides may need to help determine which tier is right for your family. Unlimited tier may be less affordable for some families.
Although Homethrive professionals are employees and third-party services are vetted, Homethrive does not have direct authority over third-party workers, such as home care aides or transportation drivers.