Getting to live according to our own choices is one of the most important freedoms that we have. Our aging population longs to keep those choices even when they begin to need some assistance with daily living. According to an AARP study, about 90% of seniors prefer to “age in place,” while living in their homes, rather than move to a senior living facility. Some states are finding that forming state funded or community-based programs that keeps seniors in their homes as long as possible is a win-win situation. Seniors are happier and family caregivers get the help and support they need. It also helps states reserve some of their funds for the seniors who are unable to live in their homes.
According to Genworth, the average annual cost of home health care, nationally, was just under $45,000 per year in 2015. The average cost of home health care in Washington, D.C., was just slightly over $45,000. Hourly rates for home health aides vary substantially between providers. Families will pay higher rates for home health aides that provide medical care in addition to personal care. Average rates for home health aides were about $20 per hour in 2015.
Depending upon the rates for a particular home health aide, getting in-home care for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be less costly than getting the same care in an assisted living home or a nursing home. Facilities often charge an extra monthly fee for dementia care; whereas many home health aides include dementia care in their regular fee.
There are three ways to find a home health aide—agencies, independently, and internet sites.
You can contact senior care agencies that will assist family members in finding caregivers. They may also work with families to develop short and long-term plans of care. Agencies will usually contract with home health care aides that provide only personal care, such as bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, and transportation. They also contract with home care aides that have the skills and training to perform minor medical duties such as medication management, taking temperatures, blood pressure, pulse, and other vital signs. One important benefit to using an agency is that if the regular worker cannot provide care for some reason, the agency can send another worker out to fill in.
Family members may find a savings on care services of up to 20%-30% by finding a home care aide on their own. This is a little risky as a lot of family members don’t have the ability to do a background check. Families would have no assurance that the home care aide is insured or has experience caring for the elderly. Skilled care, or home health care aides, must be hired through a qualified home health agency.
The third way to find a qualified home health aide is by doing an internet search. Pulling up an internet search for in-home care on SeniorAdvisor.com gives you 13 listings of in-home health providers. SeniorAdvisor.com offers one-stop shopping for caregivers that includes contact information, pricing, and client reviews. They also have counselors available to help families navigate the site and answer frequently asked questions.
The District of Columbia Office on Aging funds the District of Columbia Caregivers’ Institute (DCCI). This is a state program that supports unpaid caregivers who take on the primary responsibility for older, vulnerable residents of Washington, D.C. The program serves as a central hub for coordinating programs and services to help caregivers develop the best overall plan for the senior they care for. Social workers come right out to the family home to make an assessment of needs. They assist family members in making critical decisions and implementing a caregiving support plan for themselves, as well as the person who needs care. This includes in-home services, as well as support groups, and respite care. The program offers a flex account where participants can be reimbursed for care giving expenses. One of the benefits to the flex accounts is that they can be used to reimburse family members when they perform caregiving services themselves.
Resources may be short or long-term in nature and are flexible and coordinated to meet changing needs. The program has limited funding, so it serves residents on a first-come, first-serve basis. Seniors may be required to go on a waiting list until additional funding is available.
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