In-Home Health Care Options
More elderly adults and seniors than ever before are looking for ways to modify their home to allow them to age in place. There are some simple fix-ups you can do so that your home can accommodate aging in place.
Per U.S. Census Bureau estimates, by 2030 over 20 percent of U.S. residents are expected to be older than age 65. This number was 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970. According to research from the Senior Health and Housing Task Force fielded by the Bipartisan Policy Center, about 70 percent of individuals over 65 will need long terms services and support to accomplish activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing or feeding themselves at some point.
Most people would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, and if the person doesn’t need continuous skilled medical care, aging in place is often possible. Options for in-home care that can make aging in place possible while reducing worry and stress on concerned family members include Emergency Response Systems, In-Home Care, Bath Nurses, and dedicated caretakers for Alzheimer’s patients.
Here’s a look at a few of the options you can consider to support home health care for aging in place.
Most emergency response systems consist of a wearable device or button that includes the ability to call for help at the push of a button. Most emergency response system devices can be programmed to call police, EMS, a relative or a combination of these. Some include the ability to converse with an operator experienced in emergency care, and they usually summon help if there’s no response. Emergency response systems preserve the privacy of the aging individual while providing peace of mind to family.
Choosing An Emergency Alert System
When selecting an emergency response system, look for the following characteristics:
- Supported cellular operating networks
- Works wherever there is cell coverage
- Built in GPS location capability
- Built in fall detection
- Battery life
These devices are easy to operate and install. Prices for the monitoring service can range from a low of around $85 a year for bare-bones monitoring to a high of $860 or more for more comprehensive monitoring.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is running a 5-year project called “Independence at Home” to see if improving home-based primary care options will save money and improve overall care. After two years, the “Independence” demonstration has saved over $1,000 per beneficiary and paid out over $5 M in incentives while improving performance in six quality measures. The program is part of the Affordable Care Act.
One of the “activities of daily living” that can be difficult for aging in place seniors is bathing. Many homes have bathtubs with high sides that are difficult for seniors with reduced mobility to step in and out of. Water and soap make surfaces slippery even for people without balance issues, but they can be especially treacherous for seniors. Adding grab bars and slip-proof surfaces can help, as can changing the plumbing fixtures to allow easier access, but you might also consider hiring a bath nurse to help.
Bathing family members can be embarrassing for both parties, so a bath nurse help save the dignity of the person needing care. It’s best to ensure that the same bath nurse can come repeatedly rather than have a different nurse every time because it helps the person needing the bath to relax and feel more comfortable.
Selecting A Bath Nurse
When looking for a bath nurse, consider the following additional factors before hiring someone:
- Go through a reputable agency
- Strong references
- Personality and comfortable fit
One thing to be aware of is that Medicare does not cover the cost of personal services such as a bath nurse, even though there may not be another option. Many Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans do cover this service though, so be sure to check your insurance carefully. Community services may also have funds to cover this, so check with local senior centers as well.
It can be stressful to provide Alzheimer’s care and dementia care when patients stay at home as the disease progresses, but there are many options that can help.
Professionals can help with memory training, provide meals or just act as companions depending on the level of the disease and the needs of family caregivers. Many senior centers have volunteers who can help by providing some time off for the family or caregiver or giving Alzheimer’s care training. The most important part of dementia and Alzheimer’s care is to remain calm and not agitate the person. Costs for Alzheimer’s care can range from nothing to several hundred dollars per day depending on the type of care.
There are many options for home health care while aging in place, and more choices become available frequently. Take your time to investigate all the options before making any long-term commitments.