Aging in Place
The new buzzword among senior homeowners is “aging in place.”
Instead of selling their homes and relocating to retirement communities or assisted residential care homes, an increasing number of senior citizens are modifying their homes to make them more accessible as they age.
What is aging in place?
Aging in place is a term used to describe a senior citizen that desires to live in the residence of their choice, typically their own home, as they age. As the senior population grows, more and more older adults are choosing to be independent and reside at home for as long as they are safely able to.
The major factors that support aging in place are:
- Convenience of close proximity to services needed
- Local transportation which increases mobility options and reduces dependence on transportation by personal car
- Affordable and user-friendly housing
Services for aging in place
There are four main resources that provide services to support seniors who desire to remain home as long as possible. These resources include private home healthcare agencies, visiting home healthcare agencies and visiting home healthcare hospice agencies, adult day care services, and respite care.
Private Home Healthcare Agencies
One of the biggest long-term needs of seniors and those with chronic illnesses is for in-home care services. These professionals are often referred to as home health aides, certified nursing assistants and in-home caregivers. These private in-home professionals make it possible for seniors with functional limitations to continue living at home in a familiar, comfortable environment. In-home health aides provide a broad range of assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), including:
- Shopping, meal preparation and feeding
- Bathing, grooming and dressing
- Support for continence
- Managing medical appointments, medication dispensing
- Transportation, laundry and companionship
- Walking and transferring
Private home health care agencies provide support, direction and peace of mind to family members. From seniors needing assistance with daily routines to individuals with chronic illnesses, in-home caregivers offer services based on the level of support that is needed, whether it is 24-hour live-in care, hourly respite care or a once a week companionship visit. Private home health care agency services are typically not covered by insurance and require private pay.
Private home health care agencies personalize their services to each unique situation as every person’s needs are different and individual requirements vary.
According to statistics from Genworth.com, in-home healthcare aide services have a 2015 national average monthly cost of $3,813. However, this monthly national average varies depending on the state of residence, the services needed and the amount of hours the aide is employed.
Visiting Home Healthcare Agencies & Visiting Home Healthcare Hospice Care Agencies
Visiting home healthcare agencies provide a wide range of medical services to assist seniors at home. Home health care agencies, or sometimes referred to as Visiting Nurse Agencies (VNAs), care for patients with comprehensive services from basic medical needs to hospice care.
Visiting home healthcare and hospice care agencies are typically covered by insurance, but some services that require an extended length of time may not be fully covered and will require supplemental private pay to continue.
These services can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Skilled nursing
- Rehabilitation therapies: physical, occupational and speech
- Case management
- Home health aide services
- Pain management
- Enteral administration
- Behavioral and mental health counseling
- Hospice and palliative care
- Home medical equipment
Seniors aging in place qualify for in-home services for as long as they are considered “homebound” by the agency. Specific certification requirements may be required for short term medical care or rehabilitation as diagnosed and referred to by their primary physician or specialist.
To be considered homebound, a person must be confined to their place of residence due to illness or unable to travel due to significant difficulties.
Hospice home healthcare agencies have the same requirements but are expressly for seniors who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The role of a hospice home health caregiver is to support the patient and their family as they approach the end of their life.
A full range of services are offered and provided by highly qualified professionals that have experience with end-of-life care. The services typically provided are:
- Nursing care
- Hospice aides for personal care
- Therapists, counseling and pastoral care
- Pain and symptom management
- Medication management
- Respite or inpatient care
- Continuous intensive 24/7 care
- Rehabilitation therapies: physical, occupational and speech
- Most insurance companies cover the services provided by these agencies.
Adult Day Care Services
Adult day care service centers are a community-based facility to provide seniors with social activities, therapeutic activities, transportation, personal care and meals that need supervised daily care in a safe place outside the home. While services may vary at different centers, in general, adult day care services are located within a local community and have specified daytime hours of operation.
Adult day care centers may be covered by insurance, Medicare or private pay. As of 2015, all 50 states offer assistance for adult day care depending on program requirements and restrictions through their Medicaid programs. In the state of Washington, the COPES Program (Community Options Program Entry System Waiver) covers both adult day and adult care health care.
Respite care is the provision of short-term, temporary care for an older adult living at home. This type of care provides temporary relief to family members who are caring for their loved one, who may otherwise need permanent placement in a fulltime care facility outside of the home.
Respite care can be provided for a few hours on up to a few months depending on the caregiver or the facility. Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and residential care homes such as adult family homes provide respite care services.