There’s nothing like the comfort of your own home, and for many of us, that sentiment grows stronger as we age. In a survey conducted by AARP in 2015, we find that 71% of adults ages 50 to 64 want to stay at home. Adults ages 65 and older felt even more strongly, with 87% of them agreeing. Seniors in the Madison area are fortunate to access numerous resources that allow seniors to live at home safely, for as long as possible, and at a cost that is significantly less than nursing home care.
In the Madison area, there are more than 10 in-home care agencies.
Low-income seniors have access to in-home help supported by the state, if they are at risk of needing nursing home care.
In 2014, nearly 800,000 Americans were employed at home health aides, and over 7,000 of them worked in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin home health aides made an average salary of $24,270 per year in 2014.
The median cost in Madison in 2015 for homemaking services was $169 per day. That rate reflects a full work day, which totals up to $5,125 monthly and $61,501 annually (based on the 44-hour work week over 52 weeks calculated by Genworth).
What is included in those costs? When you contract a homemaking service provider, you can expect them to assist with chores around the house that you’re unable to do. These can include things like grocery shopping, driving to medical appointments, preparing healthy meals, and light housekeeping. Homemakers may also provide things like:
Assistance with dressing and grooming.
Spending social time doing activities like reading, writing letters, scrapbooking or playing cards.
Conducting home safety checks to fix any hazards that may lead to a fall.
Remind patients to drink water and take medications throughout the day.
Assistance with pet and plant care.
Communicate with family or loved ones about the senior’s mood and health.
Homemaking services are perfect for seniors who are able to care for their health, but who may want company, have trouble with mobility around the house or need a little help during the day.
In many cities, the cost for home health aides are a bit higher than homemaker costs, but in Madison they are the same at $169 per day. Compared to nursing home care at $238 for semi-private rooms and $260 for private rooms, in-home care is significantly less. Annually, seniors using in-home care services could save over $25,000 over nursing home care.
Seniors who hire home health aides can expect services that include the same types of non-medical errands and chores that you find in homemaker services. However, home health aides are also equipped to do wound care, pulse and blood pressure checks, and help with devices used for mobility like wheelchairs and walkers.
Choosing the correct level of care is the key to safe living in your home as you age. Agencies will work with you to offer customizable schedules or packages that meet your needs. Here are common options:
Respite care is available when your normal caregiver needs to be away and is available in increments of a few hours all the way up to several days. Seniors trying out in-home care can utilize respite care to audition caregiving agencies or individuals who you might consider hiring if you need more care down the road.
Part-time care is available for a few hours daily or during a couple of days during the week where a caregiver will check in on you, grocery shop, cook meals for the day, and do light cleaning and laundry. Seniors who may not like the idea of in-home help, but who have children who are concerned about them living alone sometimes find that this part-time care compromise is the right fit.
Full-time care is available in a normal 40-hour work week schedule and is perfect for seniors who need access through the day for companionship or care while others are out of the home during the day for work. This is also a good solution for seniors who need overnight supervision to prevent falling or accidents while using the restroom.
Live-in care in an option where a caregiver is available 24/7, typically staffed by more than one person to cover both daytime and overnight hours. This care type is perfect for seniors who need to have help on hand all the time but also want to stay at home.
The first step is to choose whether you want to work through an in-home care agency or you would prefer to hire assistance directly. Agency providers will be responsible for payroll, tax, insurance, and license requirements and will have staff plans in place should there be an emergency schedule change.
Hiring directly could be a better option if you have a family member or friend that is able to provide caregiving services and you would like to compensate them. Another reason may be that you would like to have more direct control over the hiring process. When you contract directly, you will be responsible for the payroll, tax, and insurance obligations.
Online and word-of-mouth recommendations are helpful tools when searching for an agency or to hire directly. You can also browse ratings of providers on the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin website.
Seniors with a condition verified by their doctor that requires help with activities of daily living or health care may qualify for financial help from their benefits of a long-term care insurance policy. Medicaid eligible seniors may also qualify for assistance through the program. The VA Aid & Attendance program available to veterans of war and their widows can also fund in-home care.
Seniors who own their own a home, are without long-term care insurance and aren’t eligible for any of the benefits programs can consider taking out a reverse mortgage to fund their care. Another option could be to cash in a life insurance policy. In both options, you’ll have access to liquid funds, but there are tax considerations, so be sure to speak with a trusted financial advisor before making your decision.
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