7 Steps for Seniors to Stay Healthy and Happy at Home

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Ultimately, what we wish for our aging loved ones is the opportunity to live happily, in their own home. As they age, we become concerned that their health will decline and they may be forced to live in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Yet, you do not have to carry this concern if you understand the different types of home care and how they can work together!

Your home care options are truly unlimited. A comprehensive home care company that accepts different types of home care funding should be able to create a customized home care plan for you. Your plan can meet your budget requirements, and can ensure that your medical and daily living needs are met. Let’s explore how you can progress from learning about home care options to being able to make an informed choice. From there, you can meet with your home care company and devise a plan that is right for you. This plan can also be flexed according to your loved one’s changing needs. It will require some work from you along the way, but you will gain peace of mind when you know what to do, and you have your plan in place.

If your aging loved one has medical needs, their home care starting point may be when they are discharged home from the hospital, rehabilitation center, or skilled nursing facility. They are considered medically stable and therefore able to return home. But, they may have remaining medical needs as well as non-medical needs that are just as critical, like needing help to move around safely, and general supervision.

Medicare home health is designed to help your aging loved one successfully return home after their hospitalization. If they qualify, they receive nursing, therapy, and bath aide visits for a 60-day “episode”. They will continue receiving home health care until they stop progressing toward their care goals; their episode can also be renewed for another 60 days if they continue to qualify medically and they have potential to make more progress.

Some nursing tasks your loved one requires may be assigned to you because the nurse is only going to visit one to three times per week. Some of these may feel uncomfortable for you; the nurse will demonstrate what to do and you can also contact your home health agency with questions. You are also encouraged to contact your agency if you are concerned or observe a change in your loved one. In some cases, you can hire a nurse to help complete these extra nursing tasks, as well as tasks that continue when home health care has ended. A nurse visit costs about $40 to $70 per hour, depending on what they will be doing. Maximizing your home health resource helps manage your out-of-pocket expense; be sure to ask questions to ensure you understand when and why discharge is happening.

Arranging home health care is something that the facility will do for you. It is key to know that you can choose any home health care company you want. You do not have to choose the hospital’s home health care company. Every company is able to coordinate your care by working with your hospital and regular doctors. So, who should you choose and why?

You want to choose a home care company that offers both home health as described above, but also offers Private Home Care Services. Private Services include assistance with daily living activities and are usually provided by a caregiver. You want to ensure the company you choose offers both, so that you are working with only one company instead of coordinating schedules and trying to maximize services between two or more different companies. When your company offers more home care services, they are also able to qualify your aging loved one for every type of home care, before you pay out-of-pocket. This applies in every instance, whether you begin with home health care or, as we’ll describe next, you begin with Private Services.

Private Services are most commonly provided by caregivers, and are usually funded by long-term care insurance or self-pay. They include help getting up, bathing/showering, grooming, meal prep, laundry, transportation and help with errands. A caregiver can help your loved if they are a fall risk, or have dementia and need constant assistance. Private services are tailored to exactly what your loved one needs, from occasional assistance to 24-hour supervision. They can also schedule services around help that family and friends can provide, to be as affordable as possible. Home care versus assisted living offers advantages including care customization, 1:1 care, and the opportunity to develop a close and positive bond with your caregiver(s). When your loved one is matched with the right caregiver or team of caregivers, this contributes greatly to their satisfaction and life quality.

In summary:

  1. We begin healthy and happy at home
  2. There is a planned or unplanned hospitalization (and possible rehabilitation or nursing facility stay)
  3. Home health begins when you are discharged home if you qualify **choose a provider that offers both home health for medical needs AND private services for non-medical, every day needs**
  4. Add limited, occasional nursing visits if needed
  5. Add caregiver private services if you need additional, non-medical help at any time
  6. Create a schedule that combines home health, caregiver private services, occasional nursing assistance/oversight, and family help
  7. Re-evaluate if your loved one’s health needs change by calling your home care provider for a free assessment

No matter where you are in your home care journey, now you are armed with the information that will help you to design a care plan that is effective and affordable. Our Intake Nurse can also take your call directly to start your home care services by qualifying you for every type of care before you pay out-of-pocket. Contact her at 1-800-HOMECARE (in MO) or 618-HOMECARE (in IL). We are pleased to help you!