Getting Help When Providing Care at Home for Aging Parents

Home health care aide serves a hot meal to an older adult in his home.As they grow older, your parents may prefer to continue living in their home rather than moving to a long-term care facility. They are not alone in this; more than three-quarters of adults over the age of 50 say they would prefer to age in place. If your parent can safely live at home on their own with your support, you may wish to seek some form of outside help. Fortunately, you have a number of options to explore.

Home Care Services for Seniors

Public as well as private agencies offer a variety of home care services for older adults. These may include the following:

  • Home health care, either part-time or 24 hours a day
  • Personal care and homemaking services, such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning
  • Services delivered to the home, such as meal programs, transportation, and home repair
  • Money management
  • Respite care service programs that provide unpaid family caretakers with a periodic break

Other Community and In-Home Support Options

The Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) is another initiative locally available to qualifying individuals. PACE provides services through adult health centers in different communities, with additional in-home support available.

More than 2,000 adult day care centers nationwide also offer such services as physical therapy and social support.

Medicare and Medicaid Home Health Care

Home care can cost far less than nursing home care. A growing number of states are therefore striving to provide services to older adults who wish to remain in their homes. Medicare and Medicaid are two programs that provide some coverage of the medical portion of home health care.

Coverage can often prove inadequate, however. Medicare will cover home health care services if you qualify. Meanwhile, Medicaid home care services vary widely from state to state. (Learn more about of the coverage of home health care available under Medicare.)

If you have an older loved one who wants to age in place, you may need to combine Medicare or Medicaid with other resources.

Of the thousands of private home care agencies operating nationwide, about half are Medicare or Medicaid certified agencies. If Medicare or Medicaid cover the services these agencies provide, these programs will reimburse for these services. Such certification also means that the agency has met certain minimum federal standards regarding patient care and finances.

Private accrediting organizations can also certify home care agencies. The two major accrediting groups for home care agencies are the Community Health Accreditation Partner and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

Non-medical services are available to help older people remain independent as well. The Older Americans Act funds more than 10,000 senior centers and gives grants to states and Area Agencies on Aging to provide services for aging adults. Such services include Meals-on-Wheels, transportation, respite care, housekeeping and personal care, money management, and shopping. Services are usually free, but you may face waiting lists or staffing shortages, depending on where you live.

To find an Area Agency on Aging program near you, visit the Eldercare Locator or call 1-800-677-1116. In many cases, these agencies may offer case management and coordination services as well.

Support Though a Geriatric Care Manager

The profession of private geriatric care managers has evolved to help coordinate services for seniors. Geriatric care managers usually have a background in social work, nursing, or psychology. They offer expertise in helping older people and their families arrange for various kinds of long-term health care. They also help evaluate an older person’s needs, review available options, and monitor the older person’s care.

To find a geriatric care manager in your area, visit the website of Aging Life Care Association.

Additional Resources

As you navigate the options for home health care, consider reaching out to a qualified elder law attorney near you. They can assist in long-term care planning, navigating Medicare and Medicaid, and finding ways to help cover the costs.

For further information on home care options, be sure to check out the following articles:

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