Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eldercare Help: Three Kinds of In-Home Care

"I'm staying home until the undertaker takes me out."

If similar words have popped out of your aging parent's mouth, he or she is in good company. Until recently 85% of seniors said they wanted to remain home until they died, according to senior care national statistics. Today that number has swelled to between 91 and 92%.

Multiple reasons make "home sweet home" a natural choice. There's the draw of the familiar house, neighborhood, social connections and services. Add in other factors: new technology, a slow economy, and the availability of in-home help, and voila. A recipe for "staying home for life."

As your parent's health wanes, in-home help may become necessary. The dizzying array of choices falls into three types:

Chore Services--Yardwork, housecleaning, shopping, cooking and transportation all help seniors stay independent. These basic services cost relatively little--approximately $10 to $15 an hour. Sometimes there's no cost. In the Seattle area, Catholic Community Services trains volunteers from congregations to help low-income seniors remain at home. The program is called Volunteer Chore Services. Seniors of all incomes in the Greater Issaquah and Sammamish area are helped at no cost by another volunteer-based organization, Faith in Action. Other similar programs operate throughout the country. Related to Chore Services are Companion Services which provide a "watchful eye" to seniors with memory deficits.

Home Care--Trained caregivers help with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting and other personal needs, as well as providing light housekeeping, meal preparation and chore services. These agencies employ their staff and provide benefits and training. The average hourly charge is between $20 and $25, and often there is a four-hour minimum charge. Home care agencies differ in the kind and amount of training they give workers and in the experience they require for hiring. Seniors Helping Seniors, a national company, hires only people age 50 or over.

Home Health Care--This is the highest level of in-home care. Home Health Care services are provided intermittently as needed by licensed nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, medical social services, etc. A physician must write orders and people must be homebound. Medicare and insurance plans cover these services. People can also pay privately.

Have you had a positive--or negative--experience with in-home care services? Tell us about it.

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