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Home Health Care

Options, caregivers and paying for care


Updated March 31, 2006

Most seniors when questioned, state they would prefer to remain in their homes as long as is possible. Seniors who go to nursing home or other assisted type facilities are unusually not in need of complex medical care but rather are having difficulty taking care of their personal needs. Unfortunately many seniors become depressed and discouraged when they move to nursing homes. Many see nursing homes as just a place where they are going to wait for death. Loss of independence is for many their greatest fear. Staying in their own home as long as is possible can mean a great deal to many older people. Familiar surroundings can be therapeutic. Fortunately many seniors can stay in their own homes.

Home care can be a good option for many seniors. They are able to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own home, but have greater piece of mind. They will have more control over the decisions in life that can mean so much. Deciding what time to get up and what to eat can become very important, if there is a threat that those choices may be taken away from you. Nursing home care can also be very expensive, many times home care is a more cost-effective alternative. Lets look at the care that is available, how to find a good home care provider, and see how it is paid for.

Home Care Options
There are many options for finding care in the home. The majority of caregivers in the home are family members who are providing care for a loved one. This care is often given at great at financial cost in lost wages. The majority of these family caregivers are women. Medicare covers home health only under certain circumstances. A physician must order care, and the care be for a medical need. Medicare considers personal care such as bathing and toileting to be non-medical and therefore excluded from coverage except in certain circumstances. There are also programs available in many states that provide services in the home such as personal care, and homemakers. These programs vary state to state on what and how they provide these services. Check with your State Agency On Aging for information on the programs that are available where you live. If government funded care is not an option, then privately hired care can be found.

Finding a Good Caregiver
Caregivers can be hired from an agency or home health company, but can be expensive and may not be consistent. Fees for such will vary in different parts of the country but can be very expensive. Caregivers can also be hired privately. They may be less expensive but also pose additional risks. It is very important to screen all providers carefully to prevent any problems. It is very helpful if providers have had some experience in home care. Ask for at least 3 references and check them out. Providers hired through an agency should be bonded and have background checks.

Paying For Care
If home care is provided under Medicare, the cost of services is covered completely. Equipment is paid under Part B and is covered at 80%. Homemaker and aide services provided under state programs are generally covered at 100%. These programs generally have income qualifications. Very often only low-income seniors will qualify. Another option for paying for this care is long-term care insurance. Most will cover a portion of home care that is provider for personal type care. Check the benefits carefully. Some companies have provided this type of insurance under retirement benefits. It would be wise to contact your former employer to inquire if this benefit is available. The other option is to pay for the care provided from savings. Check with your Agency On Aging for information on any assistance available.

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