Thursday, February 13, 2014

Independent Living Solutions for Seniors

It takes a village.
When considering the many options of senior housing there is a new one on the block.  It is called the Village Movement and is a response to the Baby Boomers desire to stay at home.  Near 90% of the aging population prefers to remain in their own home for as long as possible.  Compared to downsizing to a senior apartment complex or moving to an assisted living facility, the idea of remaining at home with some assistance is quickly gaining ground.  The new Elderly of this generation don’t plan on following typical path of previous generations.  With new attitudes about how to live as a senior, this generation is creating their own way of preparing for their care years. 

Village Movement Networks
The idea is based on the concept of grouping together and sharing costs for assistance often needed by the aging population.   Elderly who live in a community join together as a nonprofit organization to gain access to services that they need.  For a yearly fee, the members have access to a network of services provided by both volunteers and paid providers.  Services range from home improvements to make their dwelling safer to transportation and meal delivery to health care services of visiting Caregivers and nurses. 

Networks of villages are springing up all over the country.  Many in urban areas have grown to be able to include social activities as well as practical services.  As village organizations grow in strength and they are able to offer help with assistance with financial and medical planning as well as understanding insurance benefits.  Some even offer reduced or sliding scale rates for lower-income members.

People who use the Village Movement see it as a form of insurance.  They join not because they need all the services at the moment but with the knowledge that they may need them in the future.  Knowing that someone can help change light bulbs up on the ceiling or drive to a doctor’s appointment or mow the lawn keeps this these seniors independent much longer.  It also provides peace of mind for family members who live far away.

There are Village Networks all over the United States.  Check out the Village-to-Village Network at to learn about one near you.

Kate McCarthy is Director of Operations for HomeAid Health Care which provides services for the elderly who wish to remain safe and independent at home.  HomeAid is sister company to Prairie Home Assisted Living which has served the physical, spiritual, mental and health needs of their Residents since 1999.  Together the two family owned companies provide comprehensive care for the elderly in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin.

Sources: "Welcome to Age 50: Top Caregiving Tips" by Gary Drevitch, Retrieved from on 2/12/14.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Elder Care Options - Home Health Care

Knowing your Elder Care options makes
the decision much easier for the entire family.

You visit whenever you can but lately your time together is spent doing the housework or preparing meals for the remainder of the week.  You are anxious lately and call often just to check.  Your loved ones are slowing down and some tasks of daily life are beginning to be too much to bother with on their own.  There is a stale smell in the kitchen and laundry hasn’t been done.  Papers, bills and junk mail clutter the countertops.  When you realize that the pill box for the week hasn’t been touched and you know that help is necessary.  Yet you realistically can’t be there every day.

The realization that help is needed is the first step, but then what?  You need to take the necessary measures to provide care, security and safety without offending the dignity of those you love. There are a lot of Elder Care options available to choose from.  How do you know which is right for your loved ones’ needs?  Here is some basic information about one option – Home Health Care.

What is Home Health Care?
Home Health provides care for people who require additional help with their daily activities and prefer staying in their own homes instead of being institutionalized or relying on relatives. The elderly, those recovering from hospitalization or illness, long-term disabled and new mothers, all can benefit from Home Health care. Home Health also provides respite care when the family caregiver needs time off.

Where can Care take place?
Home Health Caregivers are available to serve your loved one at their own home, in an assisted living facility, a nursing home or a long-term rehabilitation facility.  They travel to the Client and provide individualized care where ever the Client is located.

Types of Home Health Care
There are two types of Home Health care options generally available.  There is Medical Home Health Care which provides skilled nursing care, rehabilitation and hospice care.  There is also Non-Medical Home Health Care.  This type of care provides Caregivers who assist with personal cares (bathing, toileting, and dressing); housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation; shopping and companionship; transportation and medication reminders.  They also provide respite care to give the family caregiver some time off.

Cost of Home Health Care
Compared to institutionalized care, Home Health Care is an economical option. In many cases care packages can be organized according to your loved one’s individual needs. An initial assessment interview will usually be done to help determine exactly what care is necessary and that plan can be reviewed and updated as needs change. If a package plan is not necessary, then occasional care is billed out at an hourly rate.

In most cases, HomeAid services cost less than those in an assisted-living facility or an institutionalized home. With customize care scheduled for your loved one’s individual needs; you only pay for what is really necessary.  In most cases if care is less than 8 to 10 hours a day, Home Health Care is a less expensive option than Assisted Living.  Once the care needs increase to closer to full time care, then it is time to look at Assisted Living as a more economical option.

Home Health Caregivers
Caregivers working for in Home Health are usually in that field because they prefer the one-on-one relationship they enjoy with their Client and the flexibility of hours.  The Caregivers vary in qualifications depending upon if they work in Medical Home Health or Non-Medical.  Look for Caregivers who are CNA or CBRF certified for Non-Medical Home Health Care and skilled nurses, RN or LPN, for Medical Home Health Care.  Do make sure the Caregiver is carefully interviewed and screened before coming into your home. Every effort should be made to match personalities and interests between caregiver and client.

Private Duty vs. Home Health Agency
There are many reasons why choosing a Home Health Agency is better than hiring an independent caregiver to care for your loved one. The main reason is that the person providing care is the agency’s employee and their responsibility. The agency will take care of screening and training the caregivers and are responsible for them being bonded and insured. That way there is no need to be anxious about care quality or the liability of having a stranger in your home. Another major reason is the agency will take care of all taxes and Worker’s Compensation. You won’t have to deal with filing tax forms or worry about any of the legal issues involving the employment of a Caregiver.

Another advantage is that the agency will usually have a pool of caregivers who can step in at a moment’s notice if the scheduled Caregiver is sick or has an emergency.

In addition, an agency will keep a close eye on the relationship you have with your caregiver. At the initial meeting the agency will assess the care needs and make a care package plan, and then will continuously assesses how that plan is working. They will monitor their staff to make sure they are on time and diligent in providing quality care. The agency will also keep in communication with you to make sure you are pleased with the service you are paying for.

Home Health Care is definitely an option to consider when you loved ones begin to need help to stay at home. Home Health offers some great advantages. An individual always benefits emotionally and psychologically from staying at home, whenever possible. Independence is an important issue to the aging and having a Caregiver’s assistance will make remaining independent at home that much easier. In addition, choosing a customized care plan provides tremendous economic savings as you only pay for the care that is necessary. Home Health Care provides as much or little care as needed to ensure your loved one stays happily and safely at home; the place where we all prefer to be. 

Kate McCarthy is Director of Operations for HomeAid Health Care which provides services for the elderly who wish to remain safe and independent at home.  HomeAid is sister company to Prairie Home Assisted Living which has served the physical, spiritual, mental and health needs of their residents since 1999.  Together the two family owned companies provide comprehensive care for the elderly and disabled in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin.