As we age into a brand new year, our current living arrangements may need to be adjusted. According to AARP, staying in ones’ own home is preferable to moving into an assisted living or a nursing home. Important to note is the fact that there are numerous services available which aid the decision to reside in the family home as we age.
Issues to Consider
The National Institute on Aging (www.nia.nih.gov) website provides relevant information to consider on elder home living. Planning ahead is critical when choosing to stay in the home instead of a long-term care facility. For example, do you currently live alone or with a spouse or adult child? Do you have relatives or friends who live in the area? What help can you reasonably expect to receive from them?
Do you currently have any health related issues? Is there an expectation the condition may become worse? If so, will it require additional care or treatment? Can the care be provided in a stay at home setting? If one does not have any health related conditions, then issues may be limited to assistance in getting dressed, fixing a meal or taking medicine.
What type of home do you live in? Is it one or two stories? Is it easy to navigate the bathroom? Is there a walk in shower or do you have a bathtub? Are there strong handrails on all flights of stairs as well as the bathrooms? Are all area rugs firmly secured to avoid falls while walking through the house?
Types of Available Care
If you believe your loved one or you can safely live in your home after reviewing the above questions, decide on the services you may need. Some services may come with a cost while others may be provided through government programs.
Personal care such as bathing, washing your hair or getting dressed may get harder as you age. Cooking can be difficult or even dangerous as we age. Often times we need help with shopping, housecleaning or yard work. If a family member or friend cannot assist, you may need to consider hiring a home health aide.
Hiring a Home Health Specialist
Certainly, hiring a home health specialist is less expensive than living in an assisted living or long-term care facility. There are two kinds of home-care services: skilled or personal care. Skilled care typically involves physical, occupational or speech therapy and is provided by a nurse or therapist. Personal care involves help with daily activities such as bathing, grooming or other similar tasks and is provided by home health aide.
Regardless of the level of care required, the company providing the services should be licensed by the state and approved by the Better Business Bureau. Further, a written agreement or contract should be created according to the present need and then carefully reviewed. The agreement or contract will detail the services to be provided and the fee required for the services completed.
Additionally, make sure any company you retain conducts a full criminal background check on all their employees. Importantly know whom to contact in case of scheduling or employee problems.
There may also be government programs available that can help provide the necessary care at little or no expense.
In New Jersey, residents may qualify for the Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) program. It provides a diverse number of in-home services to enable an individual who otherwise may need to be placed in a nursing home to remain in their home.
The JACC program representative will undertake a clinical assessment to develop a care plan. It can include respite care, homemaker services, meal service, personal emergency response systems and transportation among many others. JACC services are based on annual income though.
Another needs based option is the Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS), which is a Medicaid Waiver Program that also offers care alternatives. Please contact the county department of senior services in your area for more information.
With a little bit of planning, one can remain in the comfortable surroundings of the family home!
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “Sidewalks and homeownership liability.” Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational material about the law and is not legal advice.