Changing an older adult’s living situation doesn’t have to mean moving out of the existing home (if the housing situation is safe.) There are now many homemaking, meal delivery and personal care services that will come to an older adult’s home.
Also, if one person living in the home is able but the other person needs help, having the frail older adult go to an adult day center for one or more days per week may be a good option. Personal care such as bathing can be taken care of at the center. Also, going to the center can provide the frail older adult with socialization and the caregiver with a break from caregiving duties.
For older adults who want to consider moving from home, there are many options – from senior apartments, some with federal subsidy and others without, to retirement communities that offer unassisted to assisted living situations.
Moving to housing with a minimum age requirement (usually age 50), can be a positive move. Being with other seniors, there may be more socialization opportunities. Also, if care services are needed, they may be readily accessible 24 hours per day.
Whether it is an in-home service or special housing, the older adult’s preference must be a priority. Family caregivers can assist with the decision, but an older adult’s wishes need to be respected. Also, it is best to check with several options, interview people, ask detailed questions using check lists and tour housing and facilities. Check any contracts carefully. Housing and services for older adults has become very complex.
A skilled nursing care facility is required only when specified by a physician. In the case of terminal illnesses determined by a physician, in-home or facility hospice care are options.
Ask Questions, Consider Options For Home Care
There are several options when trying to find in-home help to care for your older adult. The key is to find reliable help that you and your older adult comfortable with and meets the specific care needs.
Home care is defined by the type of care needed – homemaking, hands-on personal care (i.e. bathing, toileting), and supportive medical care.
Or, you may hire a care worker independently or through a home health agency.
When considering a home health agency for a care worker, there are some questions to ask in advance that can assist you getting help which is best suited for your older adult. Before hiring an agency, ask:
Is the agency certified for participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs or private insurance?
Does the agency accept payment from Long-term Care policies, Family Care or the Community Options Program?
How long has the agency been serving the community?
Is the agency accredited by the Joint Commission On Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), or the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), or other recognized accrediting body? Does it state this in its agency literature and contracts?
Does the agency provide an initial assessment to determine if the patient would be appropriate for home care and what those services might be?
Is there a fee for an initial assessment?
Does the agency provide all services needed? Can it provide flexibility to meet the patient’s changing health care needs?
How does the agency choose and train its employees? Are criminal background checks made? Are employees given drug screens? Does it protect its employees with written personnel policies, benefits packages and malpractice insurance? Are the employees boned and insured?
Does the agency provide literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees and funding?
Does the agency have arrangements in place for emergencies? Are the agency’s caregivers available 24 hours per day, seven days per week or on what limited time basis? How quickly can they start?
Are references from former clients and doctors available?
What types of programs does the company have in place for assure quality care is provided?
Will the agency go to bat for you if your insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid fails to cover a claim you and the agency thought should be covered?