As people age they often require increased assistance in everyday activities. Decisions on what is the best type of care for a senior can be difficult and often complicated. Here is help on how to decide between assisted living or senior care in their home.
The choices between assisted living professionally at a nursing home or relying on care in the home can be an agonizing choice for the family of a senior. There are pros and cons to both options and they should be carefully considered before an arrangement is in place.
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Many of us will gladly take Mom to her doctor's appointments, administer medications, and check in if the need arises without a second thought. But with millions of loyal children caring for aging parents out of their own pockets, a little financial relief is welcome. Few family caregivers are aware that you can get paid - however small the amount may be - to care for Mom and provide homecare services. Due to the long working hours, however, some adult children caregivers have been forced to leave their full-time jobs or even scale back their hours spent on the clock, leading to a significantly reduced cash flow. Fortunately, if being a caregiver is causing a noticeable financial strain, there are homecare reimbursement programs that can help alleviate some of the burden. Keep in mind, however, that you must practice patience when applying for these programs - make sure that your application is up-to-date and all the necessary attachments are included before you send it so that delays aren't any longer than necessary.
Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI)
Long-term care insurance, which functions as an indemnity program, only pays the insured the amount that was contracted at the outset, and regardless of homecare services that are received, will only pay that specified amount.
Making the Arrangement with Mom Official
Since money is involved, it's recommended that family caregivers draw up some sort of short, typewritten contract that outlines the terms of the caregiving situation in depth, including the pay rate and frequency, job description and homecare services that will be provided, and how various expenses will be reimbursed (if applicable). Hiring an attorney or other legal professional will help all family caregivers involved create a legal document that prevents sticky situations from arising.
It's also important to remember that this payment is viewed as income by the government, so all family caregivers must report their earnings each year as taxable income. Though the money received for providing homecare services is negligible, it will help to offset many of the costs associated with providing Mom (or Dad) with a loving, stable, and comfortable home.
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As Mom and Dad age, the reality hits that they may need senior care. Determining what type of senior care they may require is often a good place to begin. Are they still somewhat independent, but just need help with cleaning and shopping or are they in need of more care? Areas to look at could be their physical health, any changes in hygiene, trouble with finances, trouble keeping track of medication, insurance, or bill paying. Are they able to keep up with their daily living activities such as cooking? Ask them if they are they getting enough to eat? How are they getting to the store and getting groceries home? Has it gotten harder to get around during inclement weather? These are simple tools that will help to facilitate important discussions concerning their senior care and safety.
If your loved one needs round the clock care, you can use Medicare´s new Nursing Home Compare tool to assist you in finding a good facility.
Perhaps it is just time to downsize to help them maintain their independence? No matter what the individual situation, it never hurts to put yourself in their shoes before proceeding. Growing old may have its challenges, but taking the steps to look at the situation through their eyes most often gives the caregiver a good vantage point and the ability to provide not only senior care, but a good dose of dignity as well.