As we age there comes a time when we’ll need to consider elderly care. Commonly referred to as eldercare, it encompasses the special needs and requirements unique to senior citizens. These services could include assisted living, adult daycare, long-term care, palliative or hospice care, nursing homes (residential care), home care and even specialized legal services.
Eldercare provides assistance to senior citizens that require special healthcare and daily activity needs. The goal is to help older people live comfortably, independently, and with dignity for as long as possible. In the U.S., eldercare is often performed by family members; but it’s not uncommon for seniors to pay for assistance.
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people aged 65 or older. Conversely, Medicaid is a joint federal and state public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals. The U.S. government requires all states to provide certain healthcare services; additionally, states can offer supplemental benefits as they desire.
Medicaid covers some home health services, as well as resources for skilled nursing facilities. Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “You may qualify for free or low-cost care through Medicaid based on income and family size. In all states, Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.”
State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
You can learn more about your state’s Medicare and Medicaid options and eligibility requirements by contacting the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). The service is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.
How Eldercare Works
As we get older, physical and mental difficulties can arise and impede our ability to perform normal daily activities. It’s at this time when eldercare can help. Caregivers can come from many different sources, such as family members, hired assistants, or skilled medical professionals. You can receive eldercare at your home, an assisted living facility, a memory-care facility, or a nursing home.
If you’re suffering from chronic or debilitating conditions, you’ll most likely need additional support and hands-on care. Furthermore, memory problems need to be considered and appropriate levels of care put in place to provide assistance. As an example, your medications need to be administered on schedule and in the correct dosages.
A lot of elderly care in the U.S. is performed by family members. Services can be performed by adult children or other relatives without pay; however, these members can experience physical and emotional stress, as well as potential lost work or out-of-pocket expenses.
If you’re in a position to hire someone or a service to provide home based assistance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states the average national expense for a health aide is $20.50 per hour. The actual cost will vary depending on the skill level, services performed, and where you’re located.
While you most likely want to remain at home, if you require a facility for care the costs of service can rise significantly. The HHS states that a semi-private room in a nursing home averages $6,844 a month, alternatively a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility averages $3,628 a month. These figures are subject to your location.
At this time, most eldercare costs are not covered by health insurance programs; however, Medicare can cover some services when they are deemed medically necessary. As an example, Medicare can cover part-time or limited skilled nursing care or in-home health aide assistance. Typically custodial or personal care, like aid with bathing or dressing, and support with grocery shopping and laundry are not covered.
While most health insurance programs don’t cover eldercare, a private insurance, comprehensive long-term care policy can be purchased. These policies can cover some skilled nursing care and custodial care at home, an assisted living facility, or at a nursing home. To benefit from a private policy, you must purchase the policy before you need these services. These types of policies can be expensive and carry large annual premiums.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) states that 70 percent of people 65 and older will require some form of long-term care in their lifetimes. The average individual will need 3 years of service. Here’s a link to AARP’s “5 Things You Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance” article.
If you’re eligible for veterans benefits, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) could provide financial assistance. The VA’s programs encompass a variety of healthcare benefits; which could include pension increases if you need to hire an aid or become housebound.
Eldercare Legal Services
The legal issues faced by seniors are often more critical than those problems faced by any other segment of our population. Such issues may include income security, health care, long-term care, nutrition, housing, utilities, protective services, defense of guardianship, abuse, neglect, and age discrimination. As a result, it’s important to know your rights and seek advice when you need it.
Legal services funded under the Older Americans Act provide and enhance important protections for older persons. To learn more about these programs, visit the Legal Assistance page on the government’s Eldercare Services Locator website.
As you plan for the future, consider your eldercare options. At HereToday, we recommend you talk to family members about your wishes, who will care for you, and how the services will be paid for when the time comes. Make sure there’s no misunderstandings among the loved ones who will be caring for you.
Use the Eldercare Locator, sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging, to learn more about local agencies and elder care options.
Suggested Eldercare Documents for Your Vault
- Eldercare Living Directive
- Name of Facility or Desired Facility
- Long-Term Care Insurance Policy
- End-of-Life Doula
Disclaimer. HereToday is not a legal service. This content should not be taken as legal advice. Before drafting any legal document, please consult an attorney.