Given the rate at which the older population is increasing in the United States, there is a very good chance that you are either part of that demographic or have a parent who is. That also means that the need for long-term care may crop up in the future, if it hasn’t already. Experts tell us that at retirement age we all stand a 50-70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services prior to the end of our lives. Understandably, no one wants to go into a nursing home; however, there may come a time when you (or your parent) simply cannot safely care for yourself at home. The good news is that as the elderly population grows, so do the types care available to them. One of the following alternatives to nursing home care may be able to delay, or even prevent, the need for nursing home care:
- Community Services — Most medium to large communities offer a variety of community-based services that might help you with your personal care and activities. Some services are free while others may be low cost or may ask for a voluntary donation. Examples of community-based services that may be available in your community include:
- Adult day care
- Meal programs (like Meals-on-Wheels)
- Senior centers
- Friendly visitor programs
- Help with shopping and transportation
- Help with legal questions, bill paying, or other financial matters
- Home Care — Depending on your needs, you may be able to get help with your personal activities (like laundry, shopping, cooking, and cleaning) at home from family members, friends, or volunteer groups. Medicare will pay for home care if you meet certain conditions. In addition, the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance program may be able to help with home care if you, or your spouse, are a veteran.
- Assisted Living Facilities — These facilities provide help with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. They may also help with care most people do themselves like taking medicine or using eye drops and additional services like getting to appointments or preparing meals. Residents often live in their own room or apartment within a building or group of buildings and have some or all of their meals together. Social and recreational activities are usually provided. Some of these facilities have health services on site. In most cases, assisted living residents pay a regular monthly rent, and then pay additional fees for the services they get. The term “assisted living” may mean different things in different facilities. Not all assisted living facilities provide the same services. It’s important that you contact the facility and make sure they can meet your needs.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) — CCRCs are retirement communities that offer more than one kind of housing and different levels of care. In the same community, there may be individual homes or apartments for residents who still live on their own, an assisted living facility for people who need some help with daily care, and a nursing home for those who require more care. Residents move from one level to another based on their needs, but usually stay within the CCRC. Your CCRC contract usually requires you to use the CCRC’s nursing home if you need nursing home care. Some CCRC’s will only admit people into their nursing home if they have previously lived in another section of the retirement community, like their assisted living or an independent area. Many CCRCs generally require a large payment before you move in (called an entry fee) and charge monthly fees. To find out if a community is accredited, navigate to the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CARF) website.
- Hospice Care — Hospice is a special way of caring for people who are terminally ill (with six months or less to live), and for their families. Hospice care includes physical care and counseling. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort for terminally ill patients and their families, not to cure illness. If you qualify for hospice care, you can get medical and support services, including nursing care, medical social services, doctor services, counseling, homemaker services, and other types of services. As part of hospice care, you will have a team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors and trained volunteers to help you and your family cope with your illness. Depending on your condition, you may get hospice care in a hospice facility, hospital, or nursing home.
- Respite Care — Some nursing homes and hospice care facilities may provide respite care. Respite care is a very short inpatient stay given to a hospice patient so that the usual caregiver can rest. Medicare covers respite care for up to 5 days if you’re getting covered hospice care. Room and board are covered for inpatient respite care and during short-term hospital stays.
- Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) — PACE manages all of the medical, social, and long-term care services for frail people to remain in their homes and to maintain their quality of life. PACE is available only in states that have chosen to offer it under Medicaid. The goal of PACE is to help people stay independent and living in their community as long as possible, while getting the high-quality care they need. To be eligible for PACE, you must be 55 or older, live in the service area of a PACE program, be certified as eligible for nursing home care by the appropriate State agency, and be able to live safely in the community. To find out if there’s a PACE program call the State Medical Assistance Office.
- Home and Community-Based Waiver Programs — If you’re already eligible for Medicaid, (or, in some states, would be eligible for Medicaid coverage in a nursing home) you may be able to get help with the costs of some home and community-based services, like homemaker services, personal care, and respite care. States have home and community-based waiver programs to help people keep their independence, while getting the care they need outside of an inpatient facility.
Contact Elder Law Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding long-term care, contact the North Dakota elder law attorneys at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.