Long-Term Care: What Does It Really Mean?

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, long-term care is:

A range of services and supports an individual may require to meet personal care needs. Long-term care is not necessarily medical care, but rather assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

Examples of Activities of Daily Living:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Using the toilet
  • Eating
  • Transferring to or from bed or chair
  • Caring for incontinence

Other long-term care services and supports include assistance someone may need with everyday tasks, such as:

  • Housework
  • Taking medication
  • Preparing and cleaning up after meals
  • Shopping
  • Managing money
  • Using the telephone
  • Caring for pets
  • Responding to emergencies

Researchers at Georgetown University and Pennsylvania State University found that 70% of individuals age 65 and older will need some form of long-term care during their lives.   Several factors may determine if a person will need care.

  • Age – older individuals are more likely to need long-term care.
  • Gender – women outlive men by an average of five years; so women are more likely to live at home alone when they are older.
  • Disability – having an accident or chronic illness that causes a disability.
  • Health Status – individuals with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes are more likely to need care; family history of chronic conditions, poor diet and lack of exercise increases the chances of needing long-term care.
  • Living Arrangements – individuals that live alone are more likely to need long-term care.

Long-term care is not the same as nursing home care. In fact, most long-term care is provided in the home.

The Administration on Aging reports that over 80% of long-term care is provided by unpaid caregivers such as a family member or friend. The other 20% of long-term care provided in the home includes, but is not limited to, care provided by:

A home care agency such as Oxford HealthCare

Adult day care service centers

Home-delivered meals

Transportation services

Community support services

Outside of the home, there are a variety of options for long-term care such as: nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities and retirement communities.

How much long-term care a person will need varies and may change over time. The Administration on Aging reports that on average:

  • Women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years).
  • One-third of today’s 65 year olds may never need long term care support, but 20% will need it for longer than 5 years.
  • More people have long-term care provided in their homes and have home care longer than care in a facility.

Most people want to remain in their homes for as long as possible and delay facility care. Plan ahead and educate yourself on what services are available in your community. What services are covered by your insurance? Are there eligibility requirements? Should you consider long-term care insurance?

For help answering questions about long-term care, please call a Care Coordinator at Oxford HealthCare. You can also find information about services in your community at www.eldercare.gov.

Get Paid to Care for Your Loved One

Consumer Directed ServicesWhether it’s your parents, a sibling, a child or a friend, helping someone you love is a wonderful thing you can do. You invest precious time into their life, helping them do things they may not be able to do themselves. While this is honorable, caring for someone who is disabled or needs extra assistance can quickly become a time-consuming and expensive process—especially if you have to quit your job or reduce work hours to do it.

Many people don’t realize there are programs available that may reimburse you for caring for your loved one. One of the best ways to access these resources is to talk with an experienced home care agency who knows how these types of services and community resources work, and can help pinpoint which services will be the most beneficial for you or your loved one.

Here are a few options that might be available to you:

State Programs

Missouri has a Medicaid-funded program called Consumer Directed Services. Through this program, the person you are caring for may qualify for services that will allow you to be paid, at no cost to them. This service is for those who are elderly or disabled and Medicaid eligible. Some of these services include: light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, shopping, personal care assistance and companionship.

 Veterans’ Benefits

According to AARP, in 2010 Congress passed a law providing a monthly stipend to primary caregivers of veterans injured in military conflict after 9/11. This can include paying for access to health care insurance, mental health services and travel expenses for caregivers. Caregivers of veterans may also be eligible for the VA’s Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit.1

Long-term Care Insurance

There are some long-term care insurance policies that cover home care expenses and will pay for a family member or friend to provide the care. Your loved one will need to talk with their insurance agent to determine if their policy will allow you to be paid to provide care for them.1

Caregiver Contracts

If the other options are not available for your loved one, they can set up a caregiver contract. A caregiver contract allows them to pay you for your services. They will need to talk with an elder care lawyer to set up the contract to ensure it meets tax requirements, inheritance issues and is approved by all interested parties.1

Other reliable options that may be available include: Medicare, Medicaid, Missouri Children’s Waiver and Workers’ Compensation.

If you are a caregiver, Oxford HealthCare can help connect you to the right program, along with helping you process any paperwork or billing information, so you can focus on caring for the one you love.

Levine, Carol; 19 June, 2012; Can I Get Paid for Taking Care of my Mother; www.aarp.com

You Are a Caregiver, Now What?

We offer home care programs that can provide help and support to caregivers.First, take a deep breath. While being a caregiver for a loved one or a friend is a tremendous undertaking, it’s also a huge blessing for that person. You are daily pouring love and kindness into their life. For that, you deserve to be praised. Not very many people are willing to commit this type of dedication and selflessness to benefit someone else.

As you begin this process of caring for someone in their home you might be feeling anxious or a little fearful. That’s okay. Here are five things you can do, to make this process a little easier.

  1. Learn about their condition. The more you know, the more confident you will be in caring for them. There are many resources that will help you determine what is considered normal for their condition.
  2. Don’t do it all. It’s okay to accept help from other family members and friends. Ask one person to bring dinner every Monday night, and another person to come help with laundry once a week. Without a good support system, you will burn out quickly.
  3. Contact a home care service for expert help. If you are struggling to know what to do, or if the person’s health condition changes, it’s important to contact a home health agency. Having qualified nurses come to your home can reassure you that your loved one’s condition is being monitored by a professional. You can even have one of the agency’s qualified employees help with daily chores or run errands for the person you are caring for. Plus, because these employees are professionally trained, you can feel confident in leaving the person you are caring for with them, while you go do what you need to do. Whether that’s running errands for yourself or maybe even taking a nap, having a professional help you can give you a little break. There are many payment sources available for home care including Medicare, Medicaid, Missouri Children’s Waiver, Insurance, Veteran’s Administration, Worker’s Compensation and private pay.
  4. Take advantage of new technology. There are many home care technologies out there today that provide your loved one with 24/7 access to help if they need it, along with daily access to their physician who can monitor their health.
  5. Take care of yourself. This is sometimes the hardest thing for caregivers to do. Because you are pouring so much into someone else, it’s essential you take time for yourself. Continue to exercise and eat healthy and do something fun. Remember, you can still live your life knowing that you can have other family members, friends or a home health agency come help you during times you need a break.

As a full service home care and hospice provider we have talked with countless caregivers through the years, hearing their daily struggles. Many told us it would have been difficult to sustain the long hours required to provide care for their loved one, without assistance from our employees.

If you are a caregiver, we offer numerous home care programs that can provide you the help, support and relief you need, so you can enjoy time with your loved one. Call one of our Care Coordinators today and we would be happy to assist you.

How to Choose the Best, Most Qualified Home Care Agency

Choosing someone to provide help at home is one of the most important decisions you will make. Not only are you choosing a care provider, but you are also choosing someone to come into your home or the home of a loved one. Home care services should help provide support and relief, not add to your worries with unexpected costs or unsatisfactory care.  To help you determine which home care agency is best for you, we’ve listed key guidelines to consider.

Access to Care: Many people don’t always realize there are many home care services available to help you or a loved one improve quality of life and stay safe and independent at home. That’s why it is important to choose a home care agency that knows how to access these services and community resources for you. With these resources in front of you, the home care agency can then help pinpoint which services will be beneficial for you or your loved ones.

Range of Services: Since everyone’s health needs are different, it’s important to find an agency that offers a full range of services. This includes help at home with errands just a couple of days a week, to round-the-clock nursing care. A full-service home care provider can help you transition to various types of care, as they are needed, while tailoring services to meet your individual needs. This way you get the services you need, not just what the company offers.

Experience and Quality: Another factor to consider is the agency’s accountability for quality service. Ask if that agency is certified by the ACHC, or other accrediting organizations that also assure quality for hospitals. Ask about the training and support employees receive before they come into your home. Do the supervisors ever evaluate the employees while they are working at your home? Knowing the agency’s high standard for quality can give you peace-of-mind about the services you are receiving.

Qualified, Dependable Employees: Since caregivers will be coming into your home and working independently, it’s critical they have been thoroughly screened and that extensive background checks have been done. This includes a thorough interview, reference checks, Family Safety Care Registry checks, criminal background checks and drug testing. You will also want to ask if the employees are insured and bonded.

Payment Sources: There are many payment sources available for home care, and it is important to select an agency that understands and accepts all of them for your maximum benefit. Some of the sources include Medicare, Medicaid, Missouri Children’s Waiver, Insurance, Veteran’s Administration, Worker’s Compensation and private pay. Some agencies are also aware of free community resources available.

Home care services should help provide support and relief, not add to your worries with unexpected costs or unsatisfactory care. Hopefully with these guidelines, you have more confidence in choosing the best home care agency for you, or your loved ones. To learn about the home care services offered by Oxford HealthCare, call one of our Care Coordinators today at (417) 883-7500 or (800) 749-6555.