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Home Care: A Cornerstone to Aging in Place

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month all month long, and Home Care Aide Week, which runs from November 13-19, 2016. It is a time to honor the care giving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Caring in Action.”

November is Homecare MonthHome care lies at the core of helping aging and disabled Americans stay in their home for longer periods of time. It can potentially lessen the amount of time someone may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Of course there are many other resources to help people “age in place or community.” Other options include home health care, which provides short-term medical care into the home, adult day programs, respite care, technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment. Home care services combined with one or several of these other home-based resources can create a workable blueprint to help someone age in place.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care
There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 76 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community support services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 76 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some [troubling] data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches
Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care,  non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need along with the absence of consistent familial support continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family and are poised to play a key role at the center of caregiving in our country.


To learn more, go to MessiahLifeways.org/AtHome or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2016
by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP

Adult Day Programs: A Lot to Celebrate

 

NATIONAL ADULT DAY WEEK- SEPTEMBER 18-24

Worthy of celebration all year long, adult day services provide care and companionship for older adults who need assistance or supervision during the day. These programs offer relief to family members and caregivers which allows them to go to work, run errands, or simply gives them time to relax, knowing their loved one is being cared for and safe.

CELEBRATE ADULT DAY WEEK SEPT. 18-24

Messiah Lifeways Adult Day offers inter-generational activity as one component of programming along with music, exercise, community outings and much more.

Affordable, flexible and stimulating
One of the greatest advantages adult day programs offer is their affordability. When compared to other forms of assistance, the median cost is very reasonable. According to the Genworth financials 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the average annual median cost of adult day programs nationally is $17,904, compared to the annual cost of assisted living/personal care which sits at $43,200 a year. Adult day (AD) programs can also be much more cost effective than if you were to hire non-medical caregivers for the same number of hours per day coming to the home. The national median daily cost of adult day is $69, which typically provides 8 hours of care, medication administration, a meal, snacks, activities and socialization. Furthermore, most states offer financial assistance through waiver programs and Medicaid.

“Adult day care and adult day health care are, without question, the most economical way to provide supervision and personal care for an elderly loved one on a daily basis.” PayingforSeniorCare.com

Adult day programs are also very flexible. Primary caregivers can have their loved one attend a program like this as many as five days a week or as little as one day per week. Many providers across the country offer full-day and half-day programs. They also have extended hours to allow for early drop off and late pick up, especially for those caregivers who have long work days.

Adult day programs fill a niche for many older adults who continue to live and focus on aging in place in their own home. For many there’s a part of staying in one’s own home that can actually be detrimental, which is the lack of socialization and stimulation, particularly with their own age bracket and peers. For caregivers and families who have a loved one living at home with them, quite often they can still feel isolated and, in certain cases, trapped in the home. Adult day programs are a great way for these loved ones to still get out, interact with others in similar situations, and participate in activities such as exercise, cooking, arts and crafts, special interests and speakers, and even religious ceremonies.

This gem of a program provides a great balance for the caregiver and loved one. Again it fortifies the ability to stay at home, but gets them out of the house on a daily basis to a caring and stimulating environment, but happily at the end of the day, they come home and sleep in their bed, in their own home, which is certainly worth celebrating.

If you’d like to learn about the Adult Day Services provided by Messiah Lifeways, please contact the Mechanicsburg location at 717.790.8224 or the Carlisle location at 717.243.0447 or visitMessiahLifeways.org/AdultDay.  Also check out these great testimonials on adult day services.

Celebrate National Senior Center Month: Find balance at your center!

September is National Senior Center Month and this year’s theme is
Find balance at your center!


Across the country, more and more people are beginning to recognize their local senior center isn’t what it used to be – it’s a lot more! According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) there are 11,400 senior centers across the US that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. Thanks to the Older Americans Act (OAA), senior centers have become a community focal point and one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults.

NCOA also shared that when compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction. They go on to say that research shows participants learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being. The 2016 theme focuses on a great balance of purpose, fitness, friendship, and learning.

Senior Center Month 2016 PosterSenior centers typically offer a wide variety of programs and services such as, but certainly not limited to, the following:

* Meal and nutritional programs
* Health, fitness, and wellness programs
* Computer/technology learning programs
* Public benefits counseling
* Employment assistance
* Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
* Social and recreational activities
* Educational and arts programs

Locally Messiah Lifeways sponsors and operates two senior centers, Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More located at 97 W. Portland Street and Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More located on 115 N. Fayette Street in Shippensburg. This collaborative effort between Messiah Lifeways, local and county officials, and the Cumberland County Department of Aging and Community Services further demonstrates the commitment to and value of local senior centers.

Senior Center ChoirServing Senior Meals at Mechanicsburg PlaceThese senior centers are friendly community gathering places where you can connect, volunteer, enjoy cultural experiences, take educational classes and a lot more. Activities like line dancing, low impact exercise, health screenings and flu shots help members stay well and active. Members also experience culture with bus trips and outings to local restaurants, theaters and historical sites. They also have many opportunities to connect with others at meal time, game time or while playing pool or singing in the chorus. Participants also have many ways to grow and learn by taking computer classes, health and safety classes or simply by meeting new people. And like most senior centers, volunteering is a big part of the experience. Whether it’s helping out at the center by answering phones, serving lunch or helping out with community service projects, members can share their time and talents.

Mechanicsburg Place was chosen as one of ten senior centers in Pennsylvania to host a program called the “Sip and Swipe Café.” It’s part of the center where members can get a cup of coffee and free lessons on how to use an iPad by trained instructors. There are multiple tablets for them to use on a regular basis. This calls to mind that senior centers are making great effort reinventing themselves. Meeting the needs and desires of the aging baby boom generation has helped inspire these changes. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.

As we celebrate National Senior Center Month, get out there and check out what’s new and exciting at your local senior center. Plus, to learn more about Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.697.5947 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/MechPlace or to learn more about Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.300.3563 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/BranchCreek.

National Home Care Month

Celebrating National Home Care Month

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month and recognizes it as a time to honor the caregiving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Home Care Delivers Freedom.”

Home care truly does deliver freedom and is at the center of helping aging and disabled Americans preserve their health, independence, and self-determination in the comfort of their own home. Furthermore, home care bolstered by one or more other home-based services or resources can create a workable blueprint to help individuals “age in place” and potentially lessen the amount of time one may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Other community-based resources include home health care, which provides short-term medical care in the home, adult day programs, respite care, care based technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care

There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 78 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community-based services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 78 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever-increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some disturbing data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches

Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care, non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need, along with the absence of consistent familial support, continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family. They’re a large part of why home care is poised to play a key role as the center of health care in our country.


To learn more about Messiah Lifeways At Home go to messiahlifeways.org/AtHome or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2015 by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP

 

 

Celebrating Home Care: A Key to Aging in Place

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month all month long, and Home Care Aide Week, from November 10-16. It is a time to honor the care giving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Home is the Center of Health Care.”

untitledHome care lies at the core of helping aging and disabled Americans stay in their home for longer periods of time. It can potentially lessen the amount of time someone may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Of course there are many other resources to help people “age in place or community.” Other options include home health care, which provides short-term medical care into the home, adult day programs, respite care, technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment. Home care services combined with one or several of these other home-based resources can create a workable blueprint to help someone age in place.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care
There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 78 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community support services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 78 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some disturbing data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches
Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care,  non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need along with the absence of consistent familial support continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family. They’re a large part of why home care is poised to play a key role as the center of health care in our country.


To learn more about Messiah Lifeways At Home go to messiahlifeways.org/AtHome or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2014
by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP

 

What Is Aging in Place?


What exactly does it mean to “Age in Place”? Ideally, aging in place is leading a healthy and engaging life in your own “home” for as long as one chooses. And “home” should be considered a fluid term. But, if we delve deeper, we’ll discover its meaning becomes situational, conditional, and distinct to each person facing difficult life choices as they grow older and or more dependent on others.

Aging in place has become a broad term bandied about in the senior and long-term care industries for many years. At work, I use the term several times a day and provide guidance to older adults and their families on how to “age in place.” However, for those who have little or no exposure to an aging or disabled loved one struggling to live independently or safely at home, it may be an unfamiliar concept.

One way to help define aging in place, or muddy the waters, depending on how you look at it, is to dispel what it is not:

•It’s not exclusively defined by age. When you retire at 65 you’re not suddenly aging in place. Furthermore, is a healthy 81 year old still working full-time and leading a very active lifestyle aging in place? I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is. Plus, if I claimed he was, he might respectfully disagree, since I’m referring to my father-in-law. Conversely, we could reference a 45 year old female with a traumatic brain injury in which the family is doing everything they can to keep her at home as she becomes more dependent each passing year.

•It also is not defined necessarily by where you live. Someone residing in a place other than their house, such as in a retirement or 55+ community, a personal care home or assisted living, has the opportunity to age in place. Therefore, you can age in place in multiple stages and locations too.

Thoroughly confused yet? Don’t be. You can boil the term down to whether a person has a fundamental deficit or inherent need, that without help may not be able to live independently or safely. These deficits can be quite broad. It could be that because of aging, impairment or disability that person needs some home modifications: a ramp into the house, a bedroom on the first floor, or a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub. A deficit may also be due to a loss, such as the loss of driving privileges or loss of physical or mental capacities. Aging in place manifests itself if you now need assistance coming to your current living situation for the safety, welfare or maintenance of you or your household.

Another way to understand aging in place is to talk about its primary alternative. Typically, this is choosing to move to a retirement community or care facility because it could make life easier or more enjoyable or safer than living in a private residence. Statistically, if we examine the choice of aging in place versus making a move among older adults, the percentage of those who move into a facility for care is less than 15%. Thus, the majority of older adults will be living at home and opt to age in place.

There are a multitude of different services and resources that can help people stay at home and age in place. Family or hired caregivers and/or professional home care are keys to aging in place. Other options include: adult day programs, home modification, and technology such as emergency call systems, telemedicine and even the use of web cams. Additionally, home health care and hospice services, durable medical equipment, outpatient therapy and diagnostic programs bolster the effort of people living safely and healthy at home. Wellness programs, volunteering, community membership groups like Messiah Lifeways Connections, senior centers, and transportation services can help round out a healthy and engaging life in the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about aging in place options available through Messiah Lifeways Community Support Services, call 717.790.8209 or go to MessiahLifeways.org/community-support.

Messiah Lifeways At Home: Three Decades of Caring!

It’s been a little over two years since we rebranded as Messiah Lifeways. And although I believe we’ve done a rather good job of educating residents, clients, the general public and even our own staff, the name change still confuses some people. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not the first time that the name has changed (please readIf It Ain’t Broken, Then Why Did We Fix It?).

For those who are still puzzled by it, here goes. The name Messiah Lifeways represents a whole host of different services and offerings to those age 55 and better in the Harrisburg region. We serve those who need care, want to be part of a community (both on and off the Mt. Allen Drive campus), are looking for zestful and purposeful living, or want a combination of each. Messiah Village still exists as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) and is still an integral part of our identity; however, it is no longer the overarching brand. Additionally, the name change was not part of a merger or buyout, but rather the evolution of whom we really are and who we serve. The moniker “Messiah Village” alone could no longer capture the spirit of the community outreach, services, and enrichment that are also a vital part of our identity. This broadening of our brand serves as a segue to today’s blog.

This April marks 30 years of service by Messiah Lifeways At Home. It is a testament of our commitment to helping people live longer and safer in their own home. At Home, along with other community support services like the Adult Day program, and Respite typify our broad spectrum of services beyond Messiah Village. We have always been on the cutting edge of the senior care industry. Some of these innovations included opening a children’s day care center on campus in 1978, starting the adult day program in 1993, and the creation of the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning eight years ago. However, most significant was the non-medical home care service, which unbeknownst to many, started in 1984. Somewhat counterintuitive to most CCRCs, we give older adults more choice beyond just moving here.

Serving clients from Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and Northern York Counties, Messiah Lifeways At Home, formerly known as Messiah Village Home Care has been helping older adults with services such as assistance with activities of daily living, companionship, housekeeping, and laundry. As mentioned, this heritage and experience go all the way back to the Reagan administration, when a gallon of gas cost $1.10, and 80’s pop culture was in full swing, (see picture above). However, in the 80s and 90s, we didn’t tout this service all that much. This likely explains some of the disbelief when we mention that we’ve been providing home care for the last 30 years. But as competition and demand grew, consumers started to take notice. Fast-forward to the last several years, the offerings and exposure for At Home has really grown.

With home care services becoming more main stream, along with the expanding volume and desire for baby boomers to age in place, Messiah Lifeways At Home had become more vital to those who wished to stay in their own home as they aged. Several years back, we recognized that beyond traditional services like providing hands-on care, transportation, or housekeeping; we needed to offer other services like light maintenance, technology services, and emergency call systems as part of the solutions we provided. These services have assisted seniors in prolonging and fortifying their goal of aging in place.

Lastly, just as Messiah Lifeways has evolved, so too have the options to age in place, with Messiah Lifeways At Home leading the way. To request information or learn more about the many different options available through Messiah Lifeways At Home, please call 717.790.8209 or go to MessiahLifeways.org\AtHome.

Aging in Place, Yep- There’s an App for That!

 

Lately at Messiah Lifeways, you’ve probably heard us talk more and more about aging in place and/or community.  We can help older adults both on and off campus age in place a number of ways. Programs like Connections or services like Messiah Lifeways At Home or Messiah Lifeways Adult Day Services can really help aging and disabled clients live safer and longer in their own home as their needs increase.

In addition to traditional home care services such as assistance with activities of daily living or housekeeping, Messiah Lifeways At Home also offers some really handy technology to make staying home a safer proposition. First off is the Philips Lifeline Emergency Call System, which I playfully call the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up button.” They also supply the Auto-Alert Emergency Call System, which has an added feature that can detect a fall and send out an automatic signal even if the person is knocked unconscious and is unable to press for the call button for help. Also offered is the Philips Medication Dispensing (PMD) System which is a piece of technology that can help clients and caregivers manage safe and consistent medication monitoring.

Whether or not these gadgets are an option for you or a loved one, technology is here to stay, and skeptics should embrace these possibilities. If it means longer and safer stays in one’s home – why wouldn’t you?

Another budding area of technology, to help seniors age in place, are apps (see definition above). The wonderful world of apps features what seems like millions of different programs for games, maps, weather, books, productivity, you name it. Some apps are just plain silly, but some have some practical, real world value, and these 5 apps featured on aarp.com could come in handy for those looking to age in place.

The iCam and SwannView apps offer real-time or recorded video to help caregivers keep a closer eye on loved ones from afar. [Click here] to learn more about them.

Iconosys’s Tell My Geo is an app that uses global positioning to track and serve as a life line particularly for those with dementia who may wander or often lose their way. It also carries important medical data about that person. [Click here] to learn more Tell My Geo.

Next is Webahns Capzule PHR. PHR stands for personal health record and this iPhone app makes it easy for seniors and their caregivers to track and share health information. [Click here] to learn more about Capzule PHR.

Lastly is Sanofi-Aventis’s iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter that connects to the bottom of the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to help manage diabetes. [Click here] to learn more.

These are just a few apps that exist out there to make aging in place more feasible and safe. Like any new product, it is a good idea for you or a loved one to investigate these applications a little more closely before purchasing them. Lastly, in this ever-changing world of technology, Messiah Lifeways At Home offers a little known service to help those who may struggle a bit with new technology, smartphones and computers. They can send trained staff to your home to assist you with needs like setting up a new smart phone or tablet, downloading new apps or hooking up new computers. To find out more about this service, go to messiahlifeways.org/AtHome or call 717-790-8209.

Do you have a favorite smart phone or tablet app that could help with aging in place? Please share the information with others in the Comments section.

Originally posted 5- May, 2013

“It won’t happen to me”- Don’t bet on it.

Earlier this week I held one of my Coaching workshops entitled “Making the Move versus Aging in Place.” It’s main purpose is to help individuals or their loved ones that are struggling with the choice of moving to a retirement community or care facility as opposed to continuing to live at home as they age. I highlighted the options, costs and the pros and cons to both paths. But an underlying theme of the workshop, along with Lifeways Coaching in general, is the virtue of planning ahead and being proactive. On average people do more planning and research on a summer vacation or a car than they do on choosing a nursing home or home care agency for themselves or a loved one. However, it’s nice to know that some people are starting to get it. The day after the workshop I was so pleased to receive this great article, by Jennifer Agiesta and Lauran Neergaard, from one of the workshop attendees that echos the concern for how unprepared and in denial people really are about future care.  Thank you Terri for sharing. Please read and heed…


 

Americans in denial about long-term care

By Jennifer Agiesta and Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

We’re in denial: Americans underestimate their chances of needing long-term care as they get older — and are taking few steps to get ready.

A new poll examined how people 40 and over are preparing for this difficult and often pricey reality of aging, and found two-thirds say they’ve done little to no planning.

In fact, 3 in 10 would rather not think about getting older at all. Only a quarter predict it’s very likely that they’ll need help getting around or caring for themselves during their senior years, according to the poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

That’s a surprise considering the poll found more than half of the 40-plus crowd already have been caregivers for an impaired relative or friend — seeing from the other side the kind of assistance they, too, may need later on.

“I didn’t think I was old. I still don’t think I’m old,” explained retired schoolteacher Malinda Bowman, 60, of Laura, Ohio.

Bowman has been a caregiver twice, first for her grandmother. Then after her father died in 2006, Bowman moved in with her mother, caring for her until her death in January. Yet Bowman has made few plans for herself.

“I guess I was focused on caring for my grandmother and mom and dad, so I didn’t really think about myself,” she said. “Everything we had was devoted to taking care of them.”

The poll found most people expect family to step up if they need long-term care — even though 6 in 10 haven’t talked with loved ones about the possibility and how they’d like it to work.

Bowman said she’s healthy now but expects to need help someday from her two grown sons. Last month, prompted by a brother’s fall and blood clot, she began the conversation by telling her youngest son about her living will and life insurance policy.

“I need to plan eventually,” she acknowledged.

Those family conversations are crucial: Even if they want to help, do your relatives have the time, money and knowhow? What starts as driving Dad to the doctor or picking up his groceries gradually can turn into feeding and bathing him, maybe even doing tasks once left to nurses such as giving injections or cleaning open wounds. If loved ones can’t do all that, can they afford to hire help? What if you no longer can live alone?

“The expectation that your family is going to be there when you need them often doesn’t mean they understand the full extent of what the job of caregiving will be,” Susan Reinhard, a nurse who directs AARP’s Public Policy Institute, said. “Your survey is pointing out a problem for not just people approaching the need for long-term care, but for family members who will be expected to take on the huge responsibility of providing care.”

Those who have been through the experience of receiving care are less apt to say they can rely on their families in times of need, the poll found.

With a rapidly aging population, more families will be facing those responsibilities. Government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after they reach age 65, whether it’s from a relative, a home health aide, assisted living or a nursing home. On average, they’ll need that care for three years.

Despite the “it won’t happen to me” reaction, the AP-NORC Center poll found half of those surveyed think just about everyone will need some assistance at some point. There are widespread misperceptions about how much care costs and who will pay for it. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed underestimated the cost of a nursing home, which averages more than $6,700 a month.

Medicare doesn’t pay for the most common types of long-term care. Yet 37 percent of those surveyed mistakenly think it will pay for a nursing home and even more expect it to cover a home health aide when that’s only approved under certain conditions.

The harsh reality: Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, is the main payer of long-term care in the U.S., and to qualify seniors must have spent most of their savings and assets. But fewer than half of those polled think they’ll ever need Medicaid — even though only a third are setting aside money for later care, and just 27 percent are confident they’ll have the financial resources they’ll need.

In Cottage Grove, Ore., Police Chief Mike Grover, 64, says his retirement plan means he could afford a nursing home. And like 47 percent of those polled, he’s created an advance directive, a legal document outlining what medical care he’d want if he couldn’t communicate.

Otherwise, Grover said he hasn’t thought much about his future care needs. He knows caregiving is difficult, as he and his brother are caring for their 85-year-old mother.

Still, “until I cross that bridge, I don’t know what I would do. I hope that my kids and wife will pick the right thing,” he said. “It depends on my physical condition, because I do not want to be a burden to my children.”

The AP-NORC Center poll found widespread support for tax breaks to encourage saving for long-term care, and about half favor the government establishing a voluntary long-term care insurance program. An Obama administration attempt to create such a program ended in 2011 because it was too costly.

The older they get, the more preparations people take. Just 8 percent of 40- to 54-year-olds have done much planning for long-term care, compared with 30 percent of those 65 or older, the poll found.

Mary Pastrano, 74, of Port Orchard, Wash., has planned extensively for her future health care. She has lupus, heart problems and other conditions, and now uses a wheelchair. She also remembers her family’s financial struggles after her own father died when she was a child.

“I don’t want people to stand around and wring their hands and wonder, ‘What would Mom think was the best?'” said Pastrano, who has discussed her insurance policies, living will and care preferences with her husband and children.

Still, Pastrano wishes she and her husband had started saving earlier, during their working years.

“You never know how soon you’re going to be down,” she said. “That’s what older people have a problem understanding: You can be in your 60s and then next flat on your back. You think you’re invincible, until you can’t walk.”

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey was conducted Feb. 21 through March 27, with funding from the SCAN Foundation. The SCAN Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports research and other initiatives on aging and health care. The nationally representative poll involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,019 Americans age 40 or older. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage point.

Here’s the direct link for this story:

http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/24/17895542-americans-in-denial-about-long-term-care?lite