How To Choose The Best Senior Housing For You

Going through life’s sunset presents many daunting challenges and consequences. You will have to face financial constraints and inflexibility due to limited source of income, fixed social security benefits, facing the high cost of health care and preparing all those legal documents through power of attorney in cases when you can no longer carry out duties normally attributed to a healthy person.

1. Types of Senior Housing

One of the things that concern most people reaching old age is the type of housing they need to choose which will perfectly match their needs depending on their level of activity and preference. There are housing for active individuals and couples, and housing for individuals or couples who prefer living within a usual community.

2. Independent Living

Some are into independent living through apartment and some choose to stay on their own house under the supervision or care of someone, as in caregivers or other geriatric care managers. Some who do not have a place to stay are left in nursing homes and cared for by individuals working for a state government and others who are left in a nursing home managed by a non-profit organization. Special cases are given for individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and people with terminal illness.

3. Care Programs

Others choose to be in a continuing care program where a complete medical program and activity are performed all throughout old age. This is mostly a supervised housing program where a lifelong nursing and medical care are provided for each individual.

4. What Program Is Best For You?

Your preference will most likely matter in senior housing decisions you’ll have to make. If you have a couple entering such stage, your decision will be a bit tough for you have to consider other party’s decision. Your family may take part of the decision process as well and provide you more options to where you can spend the rest of your life under the care of a health care individuals or put you on a continuing care program to supervise your safety along this period. Agencies are available in the management of availing for senior housing facility. A brief consultation with senior housing representatives will give you a wealth of information you can use in your decision process.

5. Factors To Consider

Lifestyle

The choice of an appropriate housing program depends on your taste of environment, be it in a rural area or in a more advanced societies.
While statistics shows that majority of retirees still go for areas with less stress and outside the city’s busy life, a growing number of individuals are somewhat extending their participation in the society and choose to mingle with the very changing metropolitan world.

Level of Activity

Couples or Individuals who wants to be on a more relax environment go to rural areas free of hassles and stress of the modern world, while a considerable number of individuals are becoming more and more open into associating themselves to the busy metropolitan society. Apartment types offer this kind of convenience for active individuals and couples. Condominiums, conventional family homes and mobile homes are some of the most common apartment types.

People living in this community are more exposed to the many benefits of the government’s retirement program. Senior communities allow them to take advantage of facilities related to fitness, and other amenities not present in a more monotonous housing programs. Citizens of this type are exposed to these pleasantries such as spa, pools and tennis and golf courts. They are also provided with an accessible system of transportation and are a number one participant in a number of social activities. Many individuals are noted for they play an active part in a certain social movement as in the case of non-governmental organizations.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions

It is but usual for elders to suffer a number of age-related illnesses. What’s worse is, a number of diseases common among elders is the ever-popular Alzheimer’s Syndromes (Alzheimer’s Care Program). Some even are incapable of carrying out normal activities like cooking, bathing, and cleaning so they are kept in an Assisted Homecare Program. In this type of care giving facility nursing specialists provide basic services such as the above activities which they cannot perform. Additionally, medical services are also administered.

Terminally ill patients (Hospice care system) are also given special attention using unique treatments; mitigating pain characteristic of the disease’s symptoms. Others who can afford the services of a professional caregiver may take the Home Care Service Program. This allows ailing seniors get the service of a caretaker at the comfort of their own home. This option is the least program taken advantage of today.

Respiratory Help Is Available For Seniors With COPD

As HMOs Continue to Drop Coverage for Seniors – Now Over 500,000 Victims – Those Needing Expensive Respiratory Medication, Support and Homecare Services are the Hardest Hit

One Patient Advocate, Geriatric Services of America, is Providing Relief to Victimized Patients Through a Unique, Often No-Cost Program

More than 536,000 US senior citizens are scrambling to find new doctors or new coverage because their health plans terminated their Medicare managed-care services, according to a Nonrenewal Report issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the year 2002. Among the hardest hit are seniors in California (84,000), Florida (59,000), Pennsylvania (55,000), New Jersey (53,000), Texas (46,000), and Michigan (31,000), who will be losing coverage in the coming year. Even those with continuing coverage face substantial premium hikes and dwindling drug benefits. Particularly hard hit will be those with chronic illnesses such as respiratory disease, who will bear the brunt of high medication and healthcare costs.

Though all seniors 65 and older are covered by Medicare, those enrolled in managed-care programs agree to see doctors within a limited network and receive additional benefits, such as preventative care and prescription-drug coverage. The current coverage crisis stems from rising delivery costs and limited government reimbursement, as doctors and hospitals increasingly balk at seeing Medicare HMO patients, since they aren’t sufficiently reimbursed for their services. Without enough doctors and hospitals providing care, an HMO can’t serve its members. The problem is worst in large urban markets, where more than half of Medicare + Choice beneficiaries live nationwide but where reimbursement rate increases have trailed rising costs since 1997.

To compensate for the funding shortfall, premiums for seniors retaining Medicare HMO coverage are expected to spike while benefits dwindle in the coming year. In California’s Sacramento-area, for example, monthly premiums for Kaiser Permanente’s Senior Advantage Medicare Plan will double from $40 to $80 starting Jan. 1st. Healthnet, following suit, is raising premiums 50 percent, from $40 to $60 per month for its Seniority Plus members in the area. Pacificare and Western Health Advantage, while holding monthly premiums at $50 in their Sacramento-area Medicare plans, will eliminate brand name drug coverage next year.

Across the nation, seniors caught between rising premiums and shrinking coverage will find themselves in a similar bind. Even those with Medigap policies will feel the squeeze. Medigap policies A through J, for instance, have minimum standard benefit packages, and the H, I, and J plans covering prescriptions have annual drug caps ranging from $1,250 to $2,000.

For the 30 million Americans with a Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease (COPD) such as asthma, emphysema or cystic fibrosis – collectively the fourth leading cause of death in the US, however, help is available with Geriatric Services of America (GSA), a national community service organization based in Tempe, Arizona which provides direct help and support to older Americans suffering from chronic respiratory disease. Through its Respiratory Disease Control Program, GSA provides access to a comprehensive range of special medication benefits, as well as support and homecare services, which eliminates out-of-pocket expenses for patients with primary or supplemental insurance coverage.

Through GSA’s patient support center, nebulizers and respiratory medication are provided and paid for with free home delivery, conveniently packaged and ready to use. GSA handles all paperwork, and clinical Patient Care Coordinators work with doctors and insurance companies once a patient has enrolled in the Respiratory Disease Control Program. Patients can enroll themselves in the program; there is nothing to buy, and no enrollment or membership fees.

Currently, Medicare, AARP, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and over 180 other insurers have special benefits for patients with respiratory disease. GSA provides access to these benefits, and coordinates all elements of care to help patients, doctors, and insurance companies combat respiratory disease.

Family Caregivers – Get Reimbursed For Providing Your Homecare Services!

Many of us will gladly take Mom to her doctor’s appointments, administer medications, and check in if the need arises without a second thought. But with millions of loyal children caring for aging parents out of their own pockets, a little financial relief is welcome. Few family caregivers are aware that you can get paid – however small the amount may be – to care for Mom and provide homecare services. Due to the long working hours, however, some adult children caregivers have been forced to leave their full-time jobs or even scale back their hours spent on the clock, leading to a significantly reduced cash flow. Fortunately, if being a caregiver is causing a noticeable financial strain, there are homecare reimbursement programs that can help alleviate some of the burden. Keep in mind, however, that you must practice patience when applying for these programs – make sure that your application is up-to-date and all the necessary attachments are included before you send it so that delays aren’t any longer than necessary.

Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI)

Long-term care insurance, which functions as an indemnity program, only pays the insured the amount that was contracted at the outset, and regardless of homecare services that are received, will only pay that specified amount.

LTCI, which covers nursing home, home health care, adult day care services, assisted living facilities, and hospice care, offers payments to in-home family caregivers, though the insurance must include in-home care and/or homecare services coverage. In certain instances, LTCI requires that family caregivers complete a basic training program on homecare services and/or caregiving for elderly patients. Though almost all LTCI contracts include skilled, intermediate, and custodial long-term homecare services, don’t rely on this type of insurance to be your only fall-back when it comes to paying for in-home health care. Though for clarification, you should contact your LTCI company directly for details on its family caregiver reimbursement policies as well as what is needed to qualify.

Medicaid Cash and Counseling Program

A state-administered program, Medicaid is only available to low-income individuals and families who meet certain federal and state law eligibility requirements. In other words, if you have limited income and resources, applying for Medicaid relief is advisable; however, you must be able to meet specific eligibility criteria. Persons over the age of 65 with limited income and resources immediately become eligible as well as those who are terminally ill or live in a nursing home.

Fortunately, if the person you’re caring for is either eligible for or is currently using Medicaid, you may be able to receive direct payments from its Cash and Counseling program, though it is available only to family caregivers in select states, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. In some cases, the person you’re caring for may have too high an income, excluding him or her from the Medicaid program; some states, such as Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Oregon, have accounted for this oversight and offer similar programs to family caregivers (Source: National Governor’s Association).

Medicaid, aware that family caregivers are often the best care providers for Mom or Dad, will send a check directly to the recipient to reimburse for homecare services rendered, though this amount depends upon various assessments of overall needs and the average cost of in-home health care for that particular state. This money can also be used by family caregivers to purchase supplies, medical equipment, or even to pay for ADLs (activities of daily living). To find out if your loved one is eligible or for more information on the Cash and Counseling program, please call the National Program Office at 617-552-2809.

Making the Arrangement with Mom Official

Since money is involved, it’s recommended that family caregivers draw up some sort of short, typewritten contract that outlines the terms of the caregiving situation in depth, including the pay rate and frequency, job description and homecare services that will be provided, and how various expenses will be reimbursed (if applicable). Hiring an attorney or other legal professional will help all family caregivers involved create a legal document that prevents sticky situations from arising.

It’s also important to remember that this payment is viewed as income by the government, so all family caregivers must report their earnings each year as taxable income. Though the money received for providing homecare services is negligible, it will help to offset many of the costs associated with providing Mom (or Dad) with a loving, stable, and comfortable home.

Jill Gilbert is the President and CEO of Gilbert Guide, a comprehensive website helping seniors and their loved ones find a senior care provider along with extensive tools and resources to solve the challenges of aging. She is the author of “Leading by Example,” a monthly column in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, the chief industry publication for long-term care providers. Jill has been interviewed for a CBS News special, was a key presenter at the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association’s annual conference, and was recently interviewed on San Francisco TalkBack. Gilbert Guide was founded on the concept that quality matters, and its primary goal is to educate consumers on a breadth of senior wellness and care issues.