When Mom, Dad, or both have been living alone or with a relative, and caregiving needs are becoming more than can be safely or effectively provided by family members alone, it may be time to consider additional help. There are a variety of services and facilities available to meet the needs of seniors who require assistance with some or all of their tasks of daily living. The key is finding the combination of services that meet the individual’s and family’s needs and goals, and is affordable.
If the individual desires to stay in the family home, sometimes the care needs can be met by the staff of a home health care agency. Home care agencies can provide assistance with housekeeping tasks, personal care (such as bathing), and sometimes skilled care. Payment for this type of care sometimes may be covered for a short term by Medicare, if the individual was recently hospitalized and meets certain criteria. More often, services are paid privately, at an average rate of $20/hour in our area for non-medical care. Certain long term care insurance policies may cover a portion of the cost of home care. As home care agencies may require a minimum number of hours per visit, check with the specific agency when you are inquiring about services.
Other options for a senior whose caregivers would like assistance during the day are senior centers and adult day centers. The programming at senior centers is geared toward meals/nutrition, socialization/recreation, health/wellness, and education. Senior centers operate using a mix of public and private funds. Adult day centers also provide programming in the above areas, but are equipped to provide personal care and nursing supervision for individuals with more complex health care needs. Private payment is most common for adult day centers. Both types of centers usually operate on a Monday through Friday schedule, and are closed for holidays. Hours of operation vary by center.
The LIFE program, new to Cumberland County this year, offers a combination of services for frail elderly people who live in the community. LIFE stands for Living Independence For the Elderly. The program provides a team approach to health care and includes medical care, home care, adult day services, and therapy. Medicaid and Medicare funds are available to help pay for this program for those who qualify. Participants in the LIFE program must be age 55 or older, live in the service area, and be determined by the county Office of Aging to require a nursing home level of care, yet desire to stay in the community. In our area, the LIFE program currently is available in Cumberland, York, and Franklin counties.
If additional information about these types of services would be helpful, Keystone Elder Law has put together a directory which contains contact information for providers of many of these services. A free copy can be requested by calling our office (717-697-3223) or visiting our website (www.keystoneelderlaw.com). Information about senior centers, adult day centers, meal programs and transportation services is also available from your local County Office of Aging. The LIFE program in Cumberland and Franklin counties can be researched at www.lifelutheranservices.org.
If community services are no longer enough for your loved one, stay tuned for future articles about tips for choosing a personal care home or nursing home. Health care decisions for older family members rarely are easy. But quality care and peace of mind can be obtained when caregivers take time to seek guidance and information before the difficult decisions need to be made.