By Kim Chernecky
Caregiver assistance is available in many forms. Unfortunately, this type of care can be very expensive and is generally not covered by Medicare. For those wise enough to have purchased long-term-care insurance, all or some of that care will be covered when the time comes. For those that didn’t purchase insurance or were unable to afford long-term-care insurance the reality is they will be forced to spend all of their assets before government assistance will help pay for their care. Sadly, this is the system in which we live. Some care options are explained below.
For most people there will come a point when outside assistance is needed for things they were previously able to do on their own. Needing help with chores such as shoveling snow, yard work, or home maintenance is normal as we age. Health issues and normal aging might increase those needs to include help with personal care assistance, bathing, dressing, meal preparation, driving, or medication reminding and supervision. While this may seem overwhelming, this type of care can be safely provided in the home, allowing seniors to maintain their independence longer.
Personal care assistants, certified nurse’s aides, companions, and homemakers are all readily available for hire through agencies in most areas of the country. (In remote areas these types of services may be limited.) Depending on the location, hourly rates for this type of care will generally range on average from $14.00-$25.00 per hour.
For many, hiring a caregiver at these rates is less than affordable however it is one of the least expensive options when comparing the costs to assisted living or skilled nursing care. Unfortunately, once again, most insurances including Medicare do not cover this type of care as it is considered to be custodial care rather than medical care.
The only exception to this is if you have chosen to purchase long-term care insurance or for those who qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance program. (The VA can be reached at 800-827-1000 or visit the website at www.va.gov.) While long-term care insurance can be costly, I have spoken to families that opted to pay for long-term care insurance for their parents and were tremendously grateful when the time came to use it.
Another resource to try is the local Area Agency on Aging. While there will likely be a waiting list for services, budget-permitting, if you or your loved one meets their eligibility guidelines, caregiver assistance may be available for free or at a reduced rate. This system of agencies is funded by the government and is available to seniors and the disabled throughout the United States.
The AAA oversees senior services and may be able to assist with in-home services, transportation, meals-on-wheels, insurance counseling, in-home assessments, and more. To find out which services are available in your local area call the office and speak to an intake worker. They can go over eligibility guidelines and/or schedule an in-home assessment. This is a great free service that is available to everyone. Take advantage of it! To find your local office go to: www.eldercare.gov