Oct 31, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Putting a plan together for in-home health care is never easy, but luckily for you, it's quite easy to access information about seeking out the best options for your elderly loved one's wants and needs.
Many seniors are determined to age in place, but will likely need assistance for at least a few hours-a-day, to as much as 24/7. A caregiver can help with anything from personal care, to nursing services, and even household chores.
Planning ahead and purchasing a long-term care insurance policy that includes home care benefits if your loved one can afford and qualify for them, would be a smart route to take. For those who cannot afford such luxuries start out by using an unpaid, family caregiver.
A national average of 1 in 3 people caring for a family member at home, rather than a nursing home, indicated that they hired paid help in the past few years, according to a 2015 survey put out by the National Alliance for Care Giving and AARP Public Policy Institute.
Generally speaking, the cost of a caregiver or aide is upwards $125 a day, at 44 hours of assistance per week. Far less than a skilled nursing home, in-home care rates vary depending on the level of care needed, the region in which your senior lives, and how many hours your loved one needs to be tended to.
The following tips will guide you through the process of finding affordable home care, regardless if you planned ahead or need it as soon as possible:
Plan in advance if you can:
Are you still in your 50s? That's great news! You're at the perfect age for planning home care in advanced for when the time arrives. Take time to look into life and long-term care insurance options within You can look into checking out long-term and life insurance options that have in-home care benefits, potentially through an employer, and other options that might help lower the price of home care.
"It's important for a person to purchase these policies when they're in good health and younger," says Rod Perkins, the vice president of insurance regulation of the American Council of Life Insurers. "You don't want to wait until you need it."
It was previously suggested that you look into long-term care insurance at the age of 60 but has been lowered to 57, says Perkins.
Often, baby boomers for example, have needed long-term care in place for their parents but were not prepared for it. In-home care does not only pertain to the elderly, but could be needed as a result of an accident.
When choosing a policy, you may run into ones that have to include a waiting period or elimination period, before the long-term benefits kick in, but thinking about, in the long run, is never a bad idea. Claimants investing in long-term care typically are over the age of 80-years-old. Premiums can take decades to pay off so be sure to compare policy plans and go with the benefits you think you can and afford and need, long-term.
To assist you in the decision process, download the free app called "A Shopper's Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance," created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It's essential to determine if long-term care insurance is the right fit for you, as people with preexisting conditions cannot qualify or afford long-term care insurance.
If you need to seek help now
Say you're older and in need of in-home care assistance now, you can research services depending on your location on eldercare.gov, a federal website. Benefits.gov and BenefitsCheckup.org from the National Council on Aging can also help you seek out the perfect program that suits your needs.
Need someone to help around the house? There's a service for that too! Tasks covered by this service include cleaning and bathing, cooking and eating, plus running errands. A home health aide can assist with many skilled or unskilled medical services which include checking vital signs, wound care, and nutrition therapy.
Medicare does not cover homemaker services as it is not a home health care necessity. Medicare health insurance and supplemental plans through an employer typically do not include home care.
On the other hand, though, Medicaid, a federal-state program for people of low-income, does cover in-home care. Plus, in some cases, an assisted living facility, the cost of a nursing home, and in-home care. Programs run differently depending on what state you live in, but do note that benefits and eligibility vary.
If you are a veteran, you might be qualified for a few different programs through the Department of Veteran Affairs programs that can help cover the cost of home care.
One less known alternative
There's also a small but growing Medicaid and Medicare option called Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that is aimed to keep the frail elderly out of nursing homes. This program covers check-ups, in-home care, hospital, and medical care, transportation, prescriptions, and doctor and dental needs.
For eligibility, you need to be over the age of 55 and certified by the state showing that you are in need of a nursing home, as well as have a PACE in the area that you live. People with Medicaid or Medicare can potentially qualify for both but could face monthly premiums. If Medicare or Medicaid do not cover you, you can pay privately.
Group life insurance or individual insurance policies might have a cash value available to the owner of the plan that can be used towards home care costs. An accelerated death benefit means a company can pay for long-term care for a certain amount per month or on a daily basis.
A reverse mortgage can allot money towards home care, but the homeowner will still be responsible for upkeep, taxes, and other bills. Before choosing this route, you should do your research to see if taking advantage of a reverse mortgage is the right choice for you.
People often find themselves scrambling to pull together a budget from their savings account for life insurance and long-term care and annuities, plus some equity loans and reverse mortgages.
In some cases, it may be more affordable to hire someone directly rather than via an agency.
Family and friends can be covered as workers, who will be compensated with an hourly rate with Medicaid funds, paid privately, or sometimes a combination of both.
If you're paying and hiring home care services for a recipient who is in early stages of Alzheimer's or dementia, or medical reasons you may be qualified for a federal tax deduction, similarly to if a loved one was residing in a nursing home.
Private payers should also research the option of community support
Look into synagogues, churches, your local Area Agency on Aging, the United Way, or even senior citizen facilities.
You may be steered in the direction of meal delivery programs, adult day care programs, grants for home modification, assistance with heating bills, or even weatherization. All types of aid could be enough for you or your loved one to stay independent in the comfort of your own home.
If you are seeking family care providers, you may be eligible for a voucher that would pay a friend or a neighbor as your home care assistance.
The federal government provides respite care vouchers along with private organizations including ALS Association, the Alzheimer's Association, and Easter Seals.
For example, in Virginia, a family caregiver who resides with the care recipient may apply for a federal respite grant voucher amounting to an average cost of $400 through the Virginia Division for the Aging. About 200 families a year receive this grant, many of whom are not covered by Medicaid.
Comfort Keepers®Can Help
Prolonging senior health and well being is our top priority at Comfort Keepers® Robbinsville. Our caregivers can help seniors from transporting them to-and-from doctors offices or can help promote daily living inside and outside the comfort of their own homes. Contact us at (609) 890-2888 to learn more.