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Home Care: What is available for the elderly.

Facts about Home Care and Aging:

1. Home Care is one of the fasting growing segments in American Health care today.
2. Every 7 seconds, someone turns 50.
3. There are over 70 million people in the US over the age of 50.
4. As these baby boomers age, the demand for home health care services will continue to grow.
5. 83 % of elderly homeowner’s surveyed nationwide report that they would like to remain in their own homes the rest of their lives.

Families face a growing burden of care for elderly and disabled relatives and most people will have to pay for their own support services in old age as the state's role shrinks. This crisis in care services reflects the growing longevity of the elderly and disabled people and their need for assistance at varying levels. An increase of more than 80% of people over the age 65 is projected to increase to almost 17 million in the first half of this century. The number of those 85 and over is expected to double to more than 1.8 million by 2028.

Given the rise in elderly, today’s clinicians must become familiar with all the types of assistance and the best benefit for each patient. The types of assistance that is available for the elderly include: Private duty nursing, homemaker/companion (nonmedical) services, personal care services, skilled nursing, and hospice care. Each one is different in that they provide different levels of assistance for the elderly.

Private duty nursing requires the nurse to be certified in most states. It is usually covered by insurance as long as there is the proper documentation from a physician. They are professional practitioners who give comprehensive, direct care on an hourly or live-in basis. It is like having the benefits of being in a hospital without the big medial bills. Medicare is a big advocate of this for people who will not require long term care to keep them out of nursing homes.

The homemaker/companion services require that the employee be screened and follow the guidelines of the agency that they come from. Each agency is different in their requirements, so it is important to do the research about the agency before signing a contact. This is not covered by any type of funding or insurance so expect to pay between 13 and 20 dollars an hour depending where you are located at in the country. Their duties include light housekeeping,

Personal care services are usually paid for privatively by the client and sometimes will be partially covered by long term care insurance depending upon the state. They usually have some type of educational requirements through the state and agency they work through. The services are designed to help a person maintain his or her household and continue living independently. Specific duties may include assistance with personal hygiene (for example, bathing or shaving), meal preparation, shopping, light housekeeping, transportation to appointments, and other services.

Skilled nursing agencies provide private duty offering basic homemaker services
and client support with ADLs. They also offer a higher level of skilled nursing care to address specific medical needs. The nurses are bonded, insured, and licensed if needed, depending on the state requirements. Typical services for skilled nursing at home includes: companion/homemaker, assistance with activities of daily living, skilled nursing assessment, catheter care, enteral/parenteral, and infusion therapies, medication instruction, wound care, venipuncture and ostomy management.

Hospice care is usually funded through health care insurance. The hospice benefit is available to anyone with a life expectancy of six months or less if the terminal illness or disease runs its normal course. The patient, of course, must choose to elect hospice, and the patient's eligibility must be certified by a physician. Hospice care is designed to support the entire family.

The distinction between each service is mottled, but with the help of a good team of doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, the family should be able to determine which services is the right one for their loved one.

About the Author: Bekie Cohner is a nurse and writer who has 10 years of experience working in the Austin Health Care field in the geriatric population.

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