As people age, they begin to experience health problems that are significant enough to warrant needing care from family or professional home aides. Eyesight begins to fail, balance becomes wobbly, and they become less flexible than they were in their younger days. Failing health of our seniors should be everyone’s concern. The leading cause of U.S. emergency room visits by people over the age of 65 is injuries related to falls. Falling is also the primary cause of accidental deaths in people over the age of 65. There are a few notable ways to help seniors live longer in their own homes. Enlisting the help of in-home aides is a good start. Making some home modifications is another way to improve home safety conditions for aging seniors.
A 2015 Genworth report shows that home care aides start about $15 per hour and top out at about $20 per hours. Home care aides only provide personal care, such as bathing, dressing, assisting with daily hygiene, cooking, cleaning, and transportation. Average annual costs for a home care aide run about $39,125.
Home health aides offer minor nursing care in addition to personal care. Home health aides are licensed and trained to take blood pressure, pulse, and other vital signs. They may also manage medications. Despite having a higher skill level, home health aides actually make about the same hourly rates as home care aides, except their maximum level is higher at $23 per hour. Home health aides may bill Medicare for in-home services when the senior is unable to leave the home without assistance from a caregiver or piece of medical equipment, like a wheelchair. Medicare will reimburse for services that are quick and procedural.
An AARP study showed that 90% of seniors would prefer to stay in their homes rather than live with relatives or move to a care facility. Remodelers who know how to make appropriate senior renovations can extend the amount of time where seniors can safely live in their own homes.
The National Association of Home Builders notes that seniors request modifications to their homes so they feel safer and to make it easier for all family members to reside in the home. Seniors also stated that they wanted to make safety modifications so they could live in their homes longer and to provide for the changing needs of older family members.
65%-80% of seniors requested modifications to their homes including:
Upgrading to non-slip flooring
Adding grab bars to bathrooms
Adding personal alert systems that allows them to call for help in an emergency
Adding ramps or modifying entrances to alleviate steps
Widening doorways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs
Other modifications that seniors often request include changing door knobs to levers, making electrical outlets higher, and lowering electrical switches.
Seniors who are Medicare eligible and need in home services may receive some reimbursement for medically necessary services. These services are strictly quick and procedural in nature, so reimbursement may be small in comparison to the total need.
The state of Tennessee recognized this and created a state program called OPTIONS for Community Living through the local Area Agencies on Aging and Disability. The purpose of the program is to provide services for the elderly, adults with disabilities, and to fund home and community-based services. The program includes homemaker services, personal care, and meal deliveries. There is no income threshold for entry into the program, but the program is not entirely free. Some participants will be charged a fee according to a sliding scale. Funding is limited for the program.
Exploring ways that in-home services can be added to a senior’s routine can make a very big difference regarding whether they will be able to remain in the own homes during their final years. Combining home care services with making home modifications helps to make seniors less fearful and more confident. The OPTIONS for Community Living Program may fill the gap of what Medicaid and Medicare won’t pay.
When figuring costs for in-home senior care, don’t forget to think about all of the senior’s needs including food, transportation, meals, and personal caregiving. Family members may need to use more than one funding source or program to fully meet the needs of the senior person.
Seniors working together with their family members is the best way to incorporate helpful changes that give the whole family a comfort level with the aging process.
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