Senior Home Care Options: Aging at Home

Guest post written by Alex Chamberlain, Executive Director, home care, Aging Wisely

Various surveys of seniors return the same results: seniors say they wish to stay in their own homes as they age.  What this most likely reflects is the desire to stay independent and in control more than simply the attachment to the home (though a home often has great emotional significance as well).  The reality is that many of us will remain healthy and strong well in to our later years, but we will be more prone to chronic conditions and possibly less able to manage a household.

What resources are available to help?  Senior home care covers a wide range of services, delivered a variety of ways.  It can all be quite confusing, so we will help break it down along with some tips and considerations.

Many individuals and families hire someone privately to assist with household tasks or care.  They may use classified ads, recommendations or matching services to find help.  It is important to understand the pros and cons of these methods.  You do expose yourself to potential liability and take on certain employment/tax responsibilities.  You also will typically forego having backup, so you will need to make other arrangements if the individual is ill or has conflicts.  Get good advice before you make a decision and determine how the costs break down when all factors are considered.

Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain, Executive Director, Easy Living, Inc.

There are also various types of agencies/companies you can hire for home care.  Unfortunately, these entities are regulated by each state, so there is some variation in standards/requirements.  Some states do not regulate companion or non-medical care.  Other states license and regulate both medical home health care (which also may be Medicare certified) and non-medical home care.  Check with your state to find out more about the regulations.  It can help you to “compare apples to apples” and be more educated on your options.

Regardless of the type of provider you hire, have a good understanding of their background and track record in providing care.  Get recommendations and find out how they hire, train and supervise staff.  Ask them about experience with your particular situation, disease or needs.  Ask them how they will match caregivers to your needs, how they plan care specific to you and how they manage backup care.  If you are a family caregiver, especially at a distance or caring for a loved one with dementia, how will they communicate with you?

After determining your home care options and finding some local resources, the next question is usually financial.  Who pays for home care? What does insurance cover? Medicare pays for limited home health care, but not custodial care (the long-term type of care often needed to remain home such as household support, meal preparation, help with hygiene etc.).  Long term care insurance policies typically have a home care option, so if you have purchased long-term care insurance you may be able to submit a claim to have your care covered.  There are some state, federal and other assistance programs available to help, especially for individuals with limited financial resources.  To learn more, you can get a copy of EasyLiving’s Paying for Home Care Fact Sheet.

There are a number of supportive services that can also be beneficial to the senior living alone who begins to need some help.  Senior nutrition services, ranging from Meals on Wheels to senior dining programs or hiring someone to prepare meals, can aide in good health.  There are a number of technologies that can help too, from personal emergency response systems (“fall buttons”) to monitoring systems and electronic medication dispensers.

About the author:  Alex Chamberlain is Executive Director at EasyLiving, Inc., a fully licensed, private duty home health care company serving individuals and families in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida.  EasyLiving was named a 2011 “Top Small Business in the South” by Business Leader Magazine and the 4th fastest growing company in Tampa Bay Business Journal’s “Fast 50” of 2010.

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6 Responses to “Senior Home Care Options: Aging at Home”

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  3. JAL says:

    Before purchasing long term care insurance consider:
    Buy a policy when you are healthy, as the healthier you are the lower your premium.
    Buy a policy that meets your state’s guidelines-that’s called a “Partnership-qualified policy”.
    Buy a Daily Benefit that is high enough to cover most of the cost of care in your area.
    If home care is important to you, make sure the policy allows for all of the Daily Benefit to be used for care at home.
    http://www.LTCShop.com

  4. Senior home care is really trending right now because some seniors prefer growing old in the confines of their own, loving home rather than somewhere else. They can grow old much more gracefully if they’re at home and around loved ones and with the help of professional caregivers.

  5. Thank-You for a helpful article. I did private care for a Parkinson’s Disease & Dementia patient for 3 years. It is very hard to find someone & trust them with your loved one let alone your home,etc.. My little “friend” had to unfortunately go to a home for demented/alzheimer patients because she became a danger to herself requiring 24 hour care. Fortunately the other caregiver with me was a retired surgical nurse so we we able to advise them on some of their options. It still required a lot of legwork on their part and learning. I could only imagine how confusing and scary this could be for someone who’s alone and doesn’t have anyone to advise them. Services for seniors should be more well known. Some of the elderly may not even know services exist in their areas. Maybe if towns followed up on this through voter registration/census this would help more elderly take advantage of the services. Or if that’s to costly maybe through T.V.ads. We need to care for our elderly-they have so much to share with us. Again Thank-You for such an informative article.

  6. Sarah Smith says:

    Unfortunately my Grandmother developed alzheimers as she got older. Her boyfriend cared for her for many years but as time went on, her symptoms got worse. With little knowledge about available options, he felt he had no choice but to put her in a nearby nursing home, where they were equipped to properly care for her. He always says that if he had to do it over again, he would have hired an in-home nurse to come help care for her because (according to him) the expenses were not far off between the home and hiring in-home help. I elect to share this story because I feel people should know, there always options to educate yourself on. It is definitely worth taking the time too.

    For instance, if you elect to inquire about in-home care for the elderly, be sure to look into safety options such as installing a walk in tub to enhance bathroom safety. Another option would be if you had stairs, to install a stair lift.

    If interested interested in more bathroom safety features for the elderly, learn about the various options for purchasing a walk in bath at http://walkinbathtubreview.org/spend/.

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