Determine one’s housing options can be one of the most important and often frustrating decisions people face as they age. A variety of factors need to be considered when an older person or family is determining the appropriate level and style of housing one may need. Often, a person’s main desire may be to remain in their home for as long as possible. This may be possible at times, but each individual is different and has different circumstances they may be facing as they age. While staying home with services may be appropriate for one person, it may not be the best option for another. Fortunately, there are options when it comes to senior housing. Below is a brief overview of items one may need to think about as they prepare to discuss housing in the context of aging.
Should I Continue to Stay In my Home?
The answer is: It Depends. The desire to remain in one’s home is often strong and may be an appropriate choice; however several topics should be addressed prior to making this decision.
Questions for Review:
Is staying in my home safe?
Often people will assume that staying at home is safe because they have not experienced issues in this regard in the past. In this case, the past does not predict the future. The term “safe” is multifaceted and several sub-questions should be reviewed such as:
- Structure: The structure of the dwelling should be reviewed. For example, are the door jams and other areas wide enough to accommodate equipment should a person need it? Are there devices such as grab bars in the bathroom? Can such modifications be made? Sometimes older homes have structural limitations that cannot be overcome or may be cost prohibited.
- Location: Is the home isolated from neighbors? Isolation can be detrimental to people as they age. Often people discount the impact that being isolated can have on their overall health and wellbeing. Is the location close to services that may be needed in the future? Services such as grocery, medical care and social activity.
- Emergency Services: Is the home equipped with emergency response systems such as call units or health detection devices? Can the home be modified to accommodate such services? Sometimes services require internet or specific connectivity.
- Types of Services: Determining what type of care and service may be needed in the home can be a complex task. Fortunately, many in home services can be found in most communities. Some in home services include Home Health care, Companion and supportive services, Hospice care, as well as other routine “handyman” style services. (See the education sheets for Home Health Care definitions and explanations).
Some Challenges with In Home Services
In Home services can be of great assistance in your pursuit to remain at home. However, it is important to understand the limits of using such supports. One of the most common issues facing people, who decide to remain in their home as they age, is understanding what In home services provide, and almost as important, what they do not provide.
Often, people assume that Medicare or Medicaid will cover the most commonly needed services that people seek out when residing at home. Surprisingly, most people do not need routine or ongoing nursing care, which are covered for short durations by Medicare. The services many people find themselves needing are generally in the Supportive role.
Supportive services include such items as help with grocery shopping, housework, meal preparation, yard work, mechanical work, transportation and companionship. These are not services generally covered by Medicare or Medicaid systems (a common misunderstanding). At times, they may be covered by a Long Term Care insurance policy, but not in every case. Often, family or friends step in to provide these services and this may become difficult to maintain over time or if coordinating from a long distance. Providing these services may at times work for a short duration, but many times family and friends find themselves providing more services for longer durations as time moves on.
Often, the person residing at home does not share the same perspective as those providing services. This can lead to issues of frustration, caregiver burnout and difficulty if the time comes to cut back on providing assistance. Seeking out professional case management services may assist in this situation.