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Is it time to hire a home health aide?
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Is it time to hire a home health aide?

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Greater MetroWest CARES, the Committee Addressing Resources for Seniors, is coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and brings together leaders from Greater MetroWest agencies to promote independence and support vitality among older adults.  Throughout the year, Greater MetroWest CARES agencies have the opportunity to address critical eldercare issues in this column.  This month’s article on homecare is presented by Jewish Vocational Service.

Study after study confirms that people want to stay in their own homes as they grow older.  But caring for one’s self and managing a household become more challenging with age. For many, the ability to remain independent can only be achieved with the help and support of others.  Local family may assist with a wide range of responsibilities from grocery shopping to medication management and assistance with personal hygiene.  But what happens when loved ones are not available? For many, hiring an aide is the solution.

For those recuperating after a hospitalization or rehab stay, homecare may be included in the discharge plan. There are numerous circumstances, however, that can signal the need for outside help including physical and emotional changes, loss of weight, difficulty managing chronic conditions, dementia, and the need for assistance with activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing). 

The realization that help is needed is rarely an “aha” moment, but rather a gradual understanding.  The one “known” is that the status quo is no longer viable.

Families often look within their own network — nannies, housekeepers, and referrals from friends — for home health aides but there are advantages to hiring an aide through a licensed agency.  As the employer, the agency handles all compensation issues, conducts background and reference checks, and insures and bonds the aides. In addition, if the assigned aide is unavailable, the agency can find a replacement.  It is important to note that most long-term care insurance plans require the use of a licensed agency and aides in New Jersey are not allowed to do hands-on care unless they are being supervised by an agency nurse.

On-going communication is essential to a successful experience with an agency. While all certified home health aides hold the same license, each aide has his or her own personality and strengths. The success of matches is based on the compatibility and chemistry between the client and the aide; so, it is imperative that the agency is aware of your preferences and needs in order to make a good match.

Homecare can provide stress relief for the entire family. Clients who choose to hire an aide are often surprised at the difference even a few hours of help can make. Clients comment on how the aide has become a member of the family and has made life easier. Family members often report a sense of security at knowing their loved one is being cared for by a responsible professional and everyone reports being able to breathe easier. Hiring an aide can be a big decision but when it works, it can improve quality of life while enabling older adults to be exactly where they want to be — in their own homes.

Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest is fortunate to have two partner agencies which are licensed homecare agencies.  JVS Caregiving Companions (973-674-6330, ext. 296) serves Essex and Morris Counties, while JFS of Central New Jersey (908-352-8375) serves Union County.  Those interested may contact the agencies directly for more information on the particular services they offer, their fees, and how to access services.

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