Demystifying Your Healthcare Options

You find yourself at a crossroads when your parent can no longer live at home alone. There are so many different options and terms and opinions—but which is the best option for your parent?

There’s no one solution. Healthcare is a very personal, highly specific thing, and you need to find the arrangement that will best suit your parent’s specific situation. With that in mind, here is a comprehensive guide to the different healthcare choices to help you make a decision.

Home Health Aide

If Mom or Dad want to stay at home, an aide may be the best choice. This is common for elderly people who choose to “age in place.”

There are different levels of home health care, based on the needs and independence levels of the patient. Some seniors will only need an aide to come for a few hours to help with personal care and grooming. Some will need more intense physical assistance, as well as help with shopping, cooking, and housework. You might even prefer to hire a live-in aide to help manage medical conditions and serve as a companion at the same time.

Medicare and Medicaid cover part-time home health care services if you meet strict criteria and have a doctor’s order it. In addition, the agency you use must be approved by Medicare or Medicaid. If your parent requires more intense or full-time care, you will have to pay the fees out of pocket.

When looking for a home health aide, make sure to only hire someone from a reputable agency. Look for a compassionate, experienced individual who will treat your loved one with the respect and dignity they deserve. The Home Care Association of NJ has a list of home health providers in Camden County here.

Assisted Living Facility

An assisted living facility (ALF) is a good option for semi-independent seniors. ALFs allow you to choose the level of assistance you need. Residence live in private rooms or apartments, usually with a kitchenette if they want to prepare meals or snacks. But they also have full meals in communal dining rooms, and they offer housekeeping and laundry services, transportation, social activities, assistance with personal care, and other health services.

If you’re nervous about Mom or Dad’s safety at home alone, but they don’t want to give up their independence, an ALF is a good compromise. Some ALFs are part of continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), where the level of care available increases as your parent’s physical health deteriorates.

Assisted living facilities can be pretty expensive, depending on location and other factors. Medicare does not pay for assisted living, but long term care insurance generally will cover it. Rent at an ALF can vary between $2,000 to $5,000 a month, but keep in mind that includes many services you would otherwise have to pay for separately.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) are what most people refer to as nursing homes. When your parent is no longer able to care for themselves, a nursing home may be the best choice. At an SNF your parent will have access to 24-hour nursing care and medical monitoring.

Most nursing homes offer both short-term and long-term care. At Elmwood Hills, for example, we provide short-term rehabilitation from hip and knee replacements, surgery, MVAs, and stroke. We also offer long-term care, including diabetes management, tracheotomy care, and cardiac/pulmonary care.

Medicare covers up to 100 days of inpatient rehab. It does not cover long-term care if that is the only care Mom or Dad needs. Medicaid does cover long-term nursing. Some private insurances and long term care insurance will also cover SNFs.

I hope this information helped with the important decisions facing your family. If you want to see more articles detailing these or other senior care options, please leave us a comment!