How To Prevent Falls In Your Home

How To Prevent Falls In Your Home

Falls in the home can happen at any age, but the chances of serious injury resulting from a fall increase as we age. Six out of every ten falls occur in the home, which makes taking action to prevent falls vital to our wellbeing and the safety of family and friends. Often we tend to move about in our homes without considering the hidden dangers that exist that could cause a fall, but there are changes you can make to your space that will help you avoid accidents and ensure your safety.

Stairways And Hallways

Many stairways have a single-hand railing on one side; however, adding handrails to both sides of the stairs is recommended to prevent falls. Handrailing should be examined regularly to ensure it is tightly fastened and anchored. Use the bars every time you go up and down the stairs, even if you are carrying something in one hand, and ensure that what you are holding doesn’t block your view of the stairs.

Keep your stairways and hallways free from clutter, such as shoes, clothes, and other items. If you have carpets or stair runners, make sure they are firmly affixed to the floor so they won’t slip. While small area rugs are not advised, the use of no-slip strips can help you keep them in place on wooden and tile flooring.

Bathrooms

Installing a hand railing by your shower or tub and next to the toilet will give you something to grip while maneuvering in the bathrooms. Rugs that have rubber no-slip backing are best in these areas, never place towels on the floor to step on as they are prone to cause slipping.

Keep your bathroom well lit at all times; a night light can safely guide you in the middle of the night. Ensure your toiletries and towels are at arm’s length and easy to access; you may choose to use a small shelf or basket system instead of taller above the sink options.

Other Living Spaces

Consider how you move around your home and make sure your paths are free from clutter, cords, and furnishing. Arranging your furniture and everyday objects so that they accommodate an unobstructed pathway around your home is advised, especially for elderly homeowners. Less is more when ensuring your interior spaces areeasily maneuverable, keep clutter and small objects to a minimum.

Quick Fixes To Prevent Falls

Using grabbing sticks can help you reach the items you need that are stored in high spaces. Many people fall due to overreaching or climbing on step stools, so lowering your most needed items to an easier-to-reach height can help prevent a fall. If you live alone or are elderly, consider using an emergency alert system that can call relatives and emergency operators in the event of a fall.

Ways You Can Get Paid for Taking Care of a Senior Loved One

Ways You Can Get Paid for Taking Care of a Senior Loved One

Approximately 65 million Americans serve as caregivers to disabled or ill relatives annually. Caring for a sick relative can be extremely stressful and time-consuming. In some cases, the amount of care your aging relative needs may require you to stop working a full-time job. One of the main problems you face when becoming a full-time caregiver to a family member is the loss of income.

Instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed due to a lack of income, you need to seek out ways to get paid for being a caregiver to a senior loved one. Luckily, there are a number of programs designed to help caregivers get money for the services they provide. The following are some of the ways you can get paid for taking care of an elderly loved one.

Check Out the Self-Directed Services Programs Offered By Medicaid

When trying to get money for your caregiving services, one of the first things you need to do is assess your elderly loved one’s eligibility for Medicaid. This government-run healthcare provider has a variety of programs that are designed to help both elderly individuals and their families. The self-directed programs offered by Medicaid allow elderly people who qualify to use the money they are allotted on a variety of pre-approved expenses.

One of the ways this money can be spent is on caregiving services. This means that your elderly loved one will be able to pay you for your time, which can minimize your financial burden. If you want to assess your elderly loved one’s eligibility for these programs, then the best place to start is at your local Medicaid office.

Does Your Employer Offer Paid Leave for Caregivers?

Before you quit your existing job to become a full-time caregiver for an ailing relative, you need to see if temporary paid leave is offered for people in your situation. A recent study found that over 16% of private companies in the United States offered this type of paid leave for their employees.

This is why you need to speak with your employer to find out more about the programs they may have in place. While the paid leave may be for an allotted amount of time, it will still provide you with some form of income during this transitional phase.

Is Your Aging Loved One Eligible For Veterans Aid?

The United States government has created numerous programs over the years to directly help aging veterans. One of these programs, known as the Veteran Directed Care Program, allows veterans to manage their own care. This means that they can use the money from this program to pay a relative that is acting as their caregiver. If your elderly loved one has served in a branch of the Armed Forces, then you need to apply for this program. Contacting your local Veterans Affairs office is the first step in submitting this application.

If you want to find out more about caregiving services and how much they cost, the team at River Oaks Homecare is here to help.

What You Need To Know About the Medicaid Waiver Program

What You Need To Know About the Medicaid Waiver Program

The older you get, the harder you should focus on developing healthy habits. An integral part of being a healthy senior citizen is receiving the medical care you need. Without a comprehensive health insurance policy, you will have tons of out-of-pocket costs. For years, senior citizens around the United States have relied on a government program known as Medicaid to get the health insurance they need. Qualifying for Medicaid and Medicare can be difficult for some people, which is why strides have been made to make this government health insurance program more accessible.

The Medicaid Waiver Program provides states with the ability to tailor-make healthcare options for at-need people in the community. By waiving certain requirements and rules, the wider array of people who actually need healthcare coverage are approved. Here are some things you need to know about the Medicaid Waiver Program and what it offers.

In-Home Care Is Covered Under This Program

As previously mentioned, the federal government has left who gets this type of in-home and community healthcare coverage to the states. With these waivers, people who would not normally qualify for this government healthcare program are granted special access.  Under the guidelines of this program, states are allowed to issues as many waivers as they deem necessary if they meet certain criteria like:

  • The waiver is designed to offer a care-centered plan for the individual
  • The services in question don’t cost more than they would at a hospital or other approved medical establishment
  • The medical services in question will improve a person’s health/welfare

These waivers are generally used for non-medical services like adult daycares, home health aides and personal care assistance. If you or a loved one is in need of home care services, the professionals at River Oaks Home Care are here to help.

Who Is Eligible For These Waivers?

One of the main things most people want to know when they find out about the Medicaid Waiver Program is who is eligible. A variety of states have more than one office that handles these waiver programs and the dispersal of the benefits they offer. You need to realize that not everyone will be able to qualify for this waiver program. The average applicant has to meet various medical criteria before they are approved. In most cases, you will have to prove that your medical condition is so severe that in-home/community care is needed on a consistent basis.

What Do You Need To Apply For One Of These Waivers?

If you are in dire need of in-home care and have no way to pay for it, then applying for a Medicaid Waiver is crucial. While the application process for these waivers will vary from state to state, the information you have to provide to get approved is basically the same.

Ideally, you want to take in a report from your doctor that adequately describes your medical condition and the justification for the in-home/community care you are requesting. If you are ready to start this application process and get the in-home care you need, visit the Medicare/Medicaid website to find out how to contact an office in your state.

If you are curious about how in-home care can benefit you, it’s time to talk to a member of our staff.

Helping Caregivers Take Care of Themselves with Respite Care

Much has been written about the stress of caregiving and the toll it takes on those who do it.  According to a 2018 study from insurance firm Genworth, 40% of caregivers “experienced depression, mood swings and resentment as a result of their labors.”  

Respite care services can offer much-needed relief for this population of caregivers who are struggling, yet a very small portion uses them. What are some ways that more caregivers can take advantage of these helpful services?

Stress of Caregiving

The stress and negative emotions that can build up from caregiving have a negative impact on the caregiver, their family, and even the one receiving care. One of the most tangible signs is the impact on the caregiver’s immune system. Research cited by the American Psychological Association found that among caregivers age 55 to 75, there was  “a 15 percent lower level of immune response, making them more vulnerable to the flu and other infections.” That means caregivers are more likely to get sick themselves, which renders them even less effective in their caring for the person they love.

The feelings of resentment and guilt also weigh heavily on caregivers, especially those who were doing it alone because other family refused to assist. A qualitative study from the NIH reported that:

“While these caregivers made clear their strong desire to continue to help the care recipient, the strain of caregiving often left them with a range of negative emotions. Many reported feelings of guilt for wanting relief from their caregiving duties and several described the circumstances around the initiation of their caregiving role. In many cases, the role was relegated to them by other family members, as it had been taken for granted that they would be best in the role due to their proximity or relationship with the care recipient.”

Many caregivers desire some relief and some help, yet, only 14% of caregivers take advantage of respite care. Respite care is short-term help either with caregiving duties for the care recipient or other responsibilities a caregiver has (such as household chores).  There are a variety of respite care services, including Adult Day Care Center and in-home care service providers

The benefits of respite care are clear. For anyone who is tending to a loved one, it’s an always-on role. Even if the caregiver doesn’t live with the care recipient, he or she is on-call at all times.

So why don’t more caregivers take advantage of respite services?

Barriers to Respite Care

At first, it might seem that financial reasons play a big part. For some families, that is the case. Overall, the decreased health that comes along with aging becomes expensive (more medications, more doctor visits, etc.), so what funds are left in retirement have to be distributed even more thinly.

While many states provide Waiver Services Vouchers, the funding for those often runs out quickly. There are other government assistance programs, such as the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit, as well as long-term care insurance, that can help with the costs of services. However, most families have to do some financial juggling to make the numbers work.

Aside from financial reasons, another factor is lack of awareness. The NIH study found that many of the families participating only found out about respite care by chance. 

In addition to these more visible reasons for the underutilization of respite care, there are several emotional factors at play. These components are harder to identify and can be even harder to overcome.

An article from the Caregiver Action Network explained four major fears that caregivers often have against respite care:

  1. The stand-in caregiver won’t do a good job, therefore the care recipient would suffer a little.
  2. The stand-in caregiver would do a great job, causing the family caregiver to feel incompetent or not needed
  3. The family caregiver doesn’t quite know what to do with his or herself when they are not caregiving, because caregiving has become his or her identity.
  4. The family caregiver feels guilt simply because they believe they are not living up to their obligation to take care of their loved one, even for the short time that a stand-in caregiver assists.

Another article cites one more emotional objection:

  1. The caregiver worries about what would happen if there was an emergency while they were aware, and they don’t want that guilt.

These are very deep-rooted psychological fears that are challenging to address with logic alone. For example, one of the most common arguments for utilizing respite care is that by the caregiver taking better care of his or herself, they will be better able to care for their loved one. While that makes a lot of logical sense, it doesn’t address the problem of the caregiver feeling totally lost about what to do even if they had time to themselves. 

Helping Caregivers Care for Themselves

To help more caregivers receive the benefits of respite care services, it starts with listening. Simply listening to a caregiver express his or her feelings can provide relief for them. One participant in the NIH study expressed how all she wanted from her counselor was to listen.

For some people, it can be challenging to hear someone express frustration or anger. Often this leads to friends and family pulling away, and thus caregivers to feel isolated, which itself is an issue. It also contributes to the pent up emotions because they don’t have an outlet. Spending time with and listening to someone who is under the stress of caregiving can be a respite service in itself.

Listening can also lead to helping them work through their objections to using respite care. By hearing what they worry about (Is it the possibility of an emergency? Is it the guilt of not living up to a duty?), a trusted friend or family member can help the caregiver reach a decision point. This brings them one step closer to getting help.

Another strategy would be for more physicians to alert caregivers about respite services. This could come from the doctor of the care recipients (who would be well aware of the level of their patient’s needs) or also from a primary care physician of the caregiver. When a caregiver informs his or her doctor about their caregiving responsibilities, it can open the door to more discussions about their own health and how to better care for themselves.

As more and more people become caregivers, respite care will become more crucial. Without the needed relief and time off from caregiving duties, this generation of caregivers will continue to decline in their own health, which could in turn create another generation of people needing caregivers!

If you know someone who is caring for an ill or aging relative, reach out to them. Take some time to listen. Offer some specific help, and let them know that there are services out there to help them.
River Oaks Home Care provides respite services in Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, and Delaware Counties. You can learn more about these respite services here or give us a call at 267-755-7500

References:

1 Guengerich, Terri. State Caregiver Profiles 2017–2020.

https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/care/info-2018/state-caregiver-profiles.html

2 Fifield, Kathleen. The Trickle-Down Effect of Caregiving on Women.

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2018/women-caregiving-trickle-down-effect.html

3 Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping With Stress.

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2019/caregiver-stress-burnout.html

4ibid.
5National Institute of Health. The Impact of Respite Programming on Caregiver Resilience in Dementia Care: A Qualitative Examination of Family Caregiver Perspectives. ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808833/

6 The Impact of Respite Programming on Caregiver Resilience in Dementia Care: A Qualitative Examination of Family Caregiver Perspectives. ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808833/
7 ibid.
8RESPITE: Time Out for Caregivers: Fears That Paralyze. ​https://caregiveraction.org/respite-time-out-caregivers-part-1

9 Time Off for Family Caregivers Can Be Invaluable. ​https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2019/respite-care.html 10 ​The Impact of Respite Programming on Caregiver Resilience in Dementia Care: A Qualitative Examination of Family Caregiver Perspectives. ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808833/
11 ibid.

12 Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping With Stress.

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2019/caregiver-stress-burnout.html

How To Choose The Right Homecare Service

If you or a loved one can no longer care for themselves, you have the option of either sending them to live-in a care facility or allowing them to stay in their home by hiring a homecare service to help them.

Homecare is the preference of many people because it allows them to remain in a familiar place and keep their home and belongings. It also gives them a better sense of freedom and more happiness. If you are ready to hire a home care company for yourself or a loved one, consider these tips to help you choose the right one. Read more

Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit

What is VA Aid and Attendance Benefit?

The VA Aid and attendance is a tax-free benefit distributed to eligible honorably discharged veterans or their surviving spouses. It’s the highest level of Veterans Administrations Improved Pension Program. Those approved will receive monthly benefit that must be used as a reimbursement for the cost of acceptable medical expenses from the Veterans Administration (VA). This aid or assistance can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. Home care services are an acceptable medical expense.

Many veterans use this supplemental pension to help pay for supportive home care, medications, Assisted Living, etc. 

This most important benefit is overlooked by many families with Veterans or surviving spouses who need additional cash flow to help care for ailing parents and loved ones. There is over $1B each year unclaimed by people who could qualify but never applied.

Wartime veterans or surviving spouses of veterans may be eligible for up to $2,100 per month via the Veterans Affairs (VA) Pension With Aid & Attendance Benefit – that can pay for a personal assistant to come into their home part-time.

Challenges To Getting The Benefit

Most people simply don’t know the benefit exists! Our goal is to educate our local community about the benefit so they can choose whether or not they want to take advantage of it.

How Do I Qualify For The Benefit?

Service Requirements

  • Wartime Service (or widow of wartime Veteran)
  • Served at least 90 days of actual ACTIVE DUTY
  • Served at least one day during a war period
  • Honorable discharge

Age & Medical Condition

  • Over age 65

  • Need assistance with activities of daily living

Limit on Assets

  • As of October 18, 2018, the VA will increase the asset limits for all applicants of the VA Pension Aid and Attendance Benefit to $123,000

Assets VA Does Not Count

Exempt Assets:

  • Home (must live in it)
  • Vehicles
  • Personal property

Benefit Conflicts

Veterans and their families should be aware of potential eligibility conflicts between pensions and other assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs and / or other government programs. 

  • Veterans cannot receive both VA Disability compensation and VA Aid and Attendance Pension.  However, they can receive the higher benefit of the two programs.
  • If a Surviving Spouse is receiving Dependents Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and needs assistance with his or her activities of daily living, she or he can qualify for additional assistance, approximately $300 / month. However, a surviving spouse cannot receive both DIC and a death pension on the same veteran.
  • Receiving a VA pension may disqualify a veteran from receiving Medicaid benefits.  Often times the level of income assistance received from the Aid & Attendance benefit will exceed the maximum allowable amount of monthly income to receive Medicaid assistance.

Steps To Get Started.

Contact us (Phone: 267-755-7500 or Email: info@riveroakshomecare.com)  to fill out a Pension With Aid & Attendance Benefit Referral Form.  This will allow our Accredited Benefit Agents to see if you may qualify for the benefit.  *We are not legally allowed to determine your eligibility.

*We do not charge families for assisting them with filing a VA benefit application. You cared for us……now it’s our turn to care for you.

 

River Oaks Home Care Featured in Times Herald Newspaper.

We are excited to share that River Oaks Home Care was featured in “Your Business Minute with the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce” section of the Times Herald Newspaper. The article can be found here:

River Oaks Home Care Featured in Times Herald Newspaper