Today, there are more senior care options than ever before. Gone are the days when an institution-like nursing home was the only alternative to families taking care of their loved one at home. While having more options is a benefit, it can be also overwhelming and confusing.
It is ideal to discuss senior care options early on, before help is needed. However, only half of older adults have planned or thought about developing a care plan for themselves. Professionals in the aging space can help older adults and their families better understand the variety of options available for assistance and help families find a solution that best suits their loved one and their situation.
Options for care
The most desirable place to age is at home. Approximately 90% of those 65+ hope to age in place at home but the reality is that 70% of older adults age 65+ will need assistance at some point. The good news is, there are options for care at home including home care and home health care.
The costs of care across the senior care spectrum, ranging from low levels of care and supervision to around the clock care, depend on a variety of factors but is often underestimated by older adults and their families.
Cost of care
Oftentimes older adults and their families assume that care will be covered entirely by Social Security, Medicare or retirement accounts. But the reality is:
• Social Security does not pay for care.
• Medicare may cover care for limited amounts of time under very specific circumstances.
• People are living longer, so personal savings are often inadequate.
The most common form of payment for care is private pay (or self-insurance) or long-term care insurance. In some cases, an older adult may qualify for care covered by Medicaid or Veterans Assistance.
Encourage advanced planning
As professionals work with families and older adults, it is important to encourage advanced planning. This key step helps to make sure the older adult has a say in how they want to age, and it can also avoid the stress of last-minute decision making that often occurs when there is a crisis. Professionals can provide support in the following areas:
• Assist in navigating care options. Explain the various care options available in their area. Get a good understanding of their needs and suggest the types of care that best fits their unique situation.
• Good referrals are key. Since there are so many options available, it is nice to offer several referrals for each type of care. Get to know the providers in your area so you can speak to the provider’s reliability and quality.
• Be sure to have accurate and updated information. When making referrals, be sure you have the correct information to pass on to the older adult and their family.
• Explain what to expect. Help the older adult and their family understand what is and is not included in each type of care. This helps to create clear expectations as to what the providers can and cannot provide.
• Connect to resources. In addition to care options, provide useful resources such as CaregiverStress.com. You can inquire about more specific resources by phoning my office at 586-1516 and we would be more than happy to offer you solutions and navigation to the right resources you seek. In addition Home Instead offers a Funding Solutions Guide to help families navigate the payment options for care or Genworth’s Cost of Care study.
As the holidays draw near, we find ourselves surround by family and may discovery aging loved ones who require some help. My hope is that this article will encourage those conversations and know- there is help out there. We are just a call away.
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’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.