It’s National Caregiver’s Day and another year of countless and unimaginable changes has passed. Especially this year my heart goes out to the carers and their relatives everywhere! Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, care wasn’t a rose bed. However, this year caregivers face a number of new challenges, not least of which is addressing the isolation of the elderly and limited access to personal therapies and late medical exams.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed care options? Many adult medical day care centers are closed, leaving basically two types of elderly care: home care and care in a long-term care facility.
The long-term care industry has been hard hit by the pandemic. From a medical perspective, full-time home care is likely the safest option until the pandemic has subsided. A good option for private home care would be to hire a home health worker through an agency. The benefits of having a full-time caregiver (whether employed or by a loved one) include greater protection for the vulnerable elderly as the caregiver does not move from home (or home to a nursing home) and looks after multiple patients in different settings. It can also give the family members or friends who oversee the care a chance to recharge, which is important to prevent burnout. The right caregiver can provide the senior with social company.
Families considering this option should keep in mind that the cost of private, rented care includes the cost of groceries for the domestic helper as well as workers’ compensation insurance. The homeowner’s carrier should be made aware of the arrangement, and the family should work with an accountant to ensure that an accountant or payroll company ensures compliance with withholding tax and government insurance requirements. The layout of the home should include a private area with a door that closes for the caregiver who needs to rest and recharge while the senior sleeps.
Another option is home care, which is funded by the veteran’s special enhanced pension / assistance and attendance. This is a government benefit program used by eligible U.S. military veterans or their surviving spouses to pay for care costs. In cases where the senior qualifies for Medicaid and is able to stay at home, programs like this can be used Personal settings program (PPP), “can provide the senior with a source of funding to select and hire their preferred caregivers, which may include relatives and friends.” As part of the PPP program, the senior selects the services and schedules they want.
The remaining option is long-term care. This may be the best option if the patient is a two-person assistant, has behavioral problems, or needs a team of trained health care professionals to stabilize and maintain their condition. In some situations, Medicare dollars can be used as “key money” for a limited period of time to get the senior into the best possible facility, with the aim of paying later for the best care through the Medicaid program and the senior’s income to switch.
These are just a few important considerations. For help sorting out your options, it is recommended that you consult a senior law attorney.