When an elder enters their eighth decade, it is obvious the body has begun its deep decline. Movement slows, the skin and muscles seem to be reaching for the floor. Speech becomes less frequent and is more simplified. The brain is retaining less and less information. Staying home alone is beginning to make the family circle nervous.
Memory loss hits eventually - even when there is no diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is because by the time we hit 90, the brain is also sagging in its functions and has difficulty not replaying stories or information on a familiar, well established loop. For some family members, this can be experienced as tiring, or annoying.
Our elders are keen to hide these symptoms. Grandma may not want you to know she has had to resort to using pantiliners or adult Depends to manage her ever-weakening bladder. Same with the old guy. He might be even more mortified that anyone discover this.
The day becomes a routine of watching for the meals-on-wheels delivery, grateful for the relief of not having to try to think of what to make for dinner, or if the burners might yet again get left on. Determined to stay at home until the end – keeping our elders safe, supported and comfortable until the final days does not have to feed our anxiety, or end our relationship with alone-time. There are systems in place that can ease the way and provide that little extra dose of supervision and companionship.
Just three hours a day, two days a week gives an in-home care provider enough time to:
•Check in and make sure everyone is safe and has had at least one shower
•Go shopping and make meals ahead and leave them for use later in the week
•Accomplish weekly chores such as laundry, yard watering and dish washing
•Provide an opportunity to go see a movie, catch a concert or take a drive to the coast for an outing
On budgeting and finding the funds
There are a handful of ways to finance in-home care. The best is to have prepared for it by purchasing a long-term care rider on the medical insurance policy. If this hasn’t happened, more creativity is needed. For some – turning in a life insurance policy and then rolling it over - can provide the necessary funds for care support until it is not needed any longer.
Our elders are eating less than in the past. They are moving more slowly and getting fewer things done. This means the water bill may have gone down and the food budget is likely shrinking. These are also places to look for extra income for care.
In general – you get what you pay for – although due diligence should always be applied. Larger home care companies have more flexibility and can often provide more services for a lower amount. Smaller care companies may cost less – but supervision, caregiver choice and the safety of having a bonded and licensed-by-the-state care provider employed and supervised by professionals will cost a little more. In this case “a little” means three or four dollars per hour more – or less depending on the company and their infra-structure.
A franchised company such as Home Instead Senior Care has the advantage of being able to help keep local markets stable by keeping costs in the middle of the market – while providing overhead services that are designed to retain quality care givers for long-term clients without passing these costs to the clients. Stabilization means holding the per hour fees steady, so local companies can’t wage pricing wars which inflate or deflate local care company prices.
The real cost of In-Home Care
The average cost of a three hour per day, two days per week support schedule averages about $180 per week. This is the cost of preventing a bone-snapping fall or an unintended fire. This is the average weekly cost of providing peace of mind, companionship, support and safety for our often stubborn and fiercely independent elders. This is the path to keeping your loved one out of a nursing home and in the comfort of familiar surroundings as the ravages of elder-decline run their course.
Most families, even if the elder’s social security income cannot stretch to include this cost – can find a way. If three siblings contribute equally, monthly – it can cost the family around $60 per person per week, or $240 per person, per month.
If a family has to rely on the untrained services of the federal In Home Support Services (IHSS) because their elder is low-income – then some families will hire a fully trained and bonded care provider for one short shift per month, to make certain there is no fraud, neglect or sloppy care-giving being tolerated by a vulnerable, weak senior.
To qualify for IHSS services the elder needs to be on Medicaid with no co-pay and either be over 65 or have a diagnosis that warrants this scope of care.
There are services available to help sort through the maze of elder care needs. Some of these services include supporting families in finding the right level of care, discovering the right care company and connecting your elder to needed services such as legal support, nutritionists, moving services, realty services, medical management, medication management, dog walking and much more.
Legacy Concierge Services: 707-732-4527
Sage Solutions Eldercare Services: 707-542-7243
Eldercare Management Services; Dale Englehorn: 707-694-4009
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’s love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime