Q. My best friend is an only child and struggling to hold on to her job. Her elderly father has cancer and recently developed an infection following surgery. His doctors feel that he would do better at home with my friend acting as nurse, taking care of his wound, etc. Unfortunately, she has been ill herself and has already had to take too much time off of work. Her father's condition is not terminal, so hospice is not an option. Finances are limited. What options for in-home care do you recommend?

A.

Finding home health care can be daunting, but there are some resources out there to help your friend get started. The first step is to locate local home health providers:

  • Obtain referrals for home health directly from his doctors and his medical team. Often the medical team can provide a list of home health providers in the area.
  • Contact the local Department of Aging or local state Ombudsman’s Office and ask for referrals.
  • Medicare’s Home Health Compare tool enables you to find and compare Medicare-certified home health care providers.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance also has a Family Care Navigator tool where you can locate home health and various caregiver resources.

Once your friend begins to contact home health services she will need to determine who can provide the best services for her and her father:

  • Shop around: It’s important that your friend feel she and her father are getting the best possible care. I recommend interviewing at least two agencies and ask for several references. You can also check with your local Department of Aging and the Better Business Bureau to learn more about the different agencies and the quality of their care.
  • Determine the services you require and find out how much they will cost.
  • Does the agency take her father’s insurance? What cost will he be responsible for?
  • Ask about any financial grants available to assist with the cost of home health care.

Below are some links that may be helpful in finding financial assistance:

Finally, caregiving for your loved one, while rewarding, also comes with many challenges. One of the most important aspects of caregiving is actually caring for yourself. Caregivers often put their own needs aside; however, this can lead to many issues including decrease in physical and emotional health. Remember that when your needs are taken care of, you are better able to care for your loved one. Read more about caregiving in our booklet, Caregiving for Your Loved One With Cancer.

Know that CancerCare is here to help. We provide many services for caregivers including individual counseling, support groups, Connect Education Workshops and helpful information. Learn more about our caregiver services or call our Hopeline at 800-813-HOPE.