Home health services tend to be very expensive, but there are alternatives that can help you pay for care.
Unless your loved one needs care for a limited number of hours each day, the rates charged by private home care agencies and transportation services are often beyond the means of middle-income families. There are ways to obtain competent help at lower rates, however.
If your loved one has been discharged from a hospital and receives skilled health care services—such as nursing or physical therapy—at home, he or she could be eligible for Medicare reimbursement. When Medicare coverage ends, it is often possible to hire home health aides privately for a half to two-thirds of the cost charged by a home care agency.
If your loved one has a limited income, he or she may be eligible for services provided through the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), including homemaker home health aide services, transportation, home-delivered meals, chore and home repair, and legal assistance.
AAAs can also direct you to other sources of help for older persons with limited incomes, such as subsidized housing, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, or the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program, which covers the cost of Medicare insurance premiums for low-income elderly.
For older people who have higher incomes, your AAA may be able to make suggestions about finding home care workers that you can hire directly. Your Area Agency also has information on home care agencies and volunteer groups that provide such services as transportation, chore, respite, yard work, and home repair.
AAAs can also direct you to senior center programs, which are suitable for older persons who have minor problems with mobility and activities of daily living, and to adult day care programs, which serve older persons with serious limitations with mobility, dementia, or medical conditions that require special attention.
Other Sources Of Referrals For Aides Who Charge Lower Fees:
- Senior employment services
- Agencies that assist homemakers and others entering the employment market
Another possible avenue of temporary help is respite care. Respite refers to care that provides a needed break for the primary caregiver, ranging from a few hours to days or weeks. Respite care services can be arranged through your Area Agency on Aging. The service offers assistance with meal preparation, dressing, grooming, light housekeeping, and other activities. A four-hour session is usually the minimum, with an 80-hour annual maximum.
While home care may not necessarily be less expensive than nursing home care or assisted living, it offers ill or elderly loved ones and their families the opportunity to remain at home and together. It affords a degree of flexibility and choice for the at-risk elderly that few other living arrangements can offer.
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Adapted from Elder Action: Action Ideas For Older Persons and Their Families. Caregivers, Caregiving and Home Care Workers, developed by the Administration on Aging.