As people age, issues arise … maybe it’s health, mobility or mental acuity. Each of us knows someone who is aging … maybe it’s our parents, a friend, or a spouse. Each month in this column, I will address issues facing our aging family members and friends.
This month, we’ll look at balancing care and living options with a loved one’s quality of life.
Our No. 1 concern is an aging person’s health and safety. Inquire how they are feeling; be concerned about their socialization. Determine if they are eating properly. Maybe they are feeling lonely and isolated; this can lead to depression. If you are observing significant changes, schedule a checkup from a qualified senior-health specialist.
Ask your loved one if they are open to considering help at home or a change in living status. In-home caregivers can be a perfect fit. Good nutrition, a clean house and friendship can greatly improve an elder person’s attitude and joy in living.
A reputable care agency will fully screen caregivers’ backgrounds and qualifications before placing them in a vulnerable person’s home. Ask the in-home agency to carefully match their caregiver to your mom’s personality and needs. Caregivers are employees of the agency; they should be bonded and insured. Long-term care insurance and the VA can cover costs of in-home caregivers.
Otherwise, it is private-pay. Services range from $25 to $30 per hour.
If you directly hire caregivers, they become your employees. Background checks are an absolute must.
Medicare and insurance plans cover some in-home services when under a physician’s directive.
If able to get out, community-sponsored adult day programs and senior-center activities (often low or no-cost) provide socialization.
In King County, the Access Bus program provides door-to-door, affordable transportation for qualifying seniors.
Independent-living retirement communities, continuing-care retirement communities, assisted-living and adult family homes may or may not fit your loved one’s current needs. Levels of mobility and mental agility are determining factors; as are financial resources. Monthly fees range from $2,000 to $8,000 and more. If you think your loved one might outlive their resources and would transition to state aid, be sure the community you choose accepts people on state aid.
Independent-living retirement communities and continuing-care retirement communities have dining rooms, housekeeping and offer a community of friends. Always take a tour and have a meal. Speak with residents and their families. Drop in unexpectedly to see what goes on day-to-day. Fees vary with the size of the living space, level of services and meal options. Be sure to read the fine print. Keep in mind: Independent living communities do not provide medical services, whereas assisted living and continuing-care retirement communities do.
Which option is most appropriate for your loved one depends on their health, mobility, mental acuity, financial resources and personal wishes.