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There are many home-care resources. Yet, your Mom's and Dad's medical conditions may make care at home questionable. Moreover, their financial resources may be limited. We can help. Call today.

Life Care Planning, Estate Protection, Disability,
VA & Medicaid Assistance Lawyers

Keeping Mom & Dad Safe at Home

Dad wanted to die “with his boots on.” Mom wanted to die “at home,” surrounded by family. Although Mom died surrounded by loving family, neither she nor Dad died at home. Their medical conditions did not permit family to care for them at home; but even if their care needs could have been met at home, the financial and other resources to care for them at home simply were non-existent.

While there are many home-care resources today that did not exist twenty years ago, information about those resources is not well-known and accessing those resources remains a problem for most seniors.

Nearly all, if not most, seniors want to live at home for as long as possible. For their children, a concern may arise when they see their parents slowing down, having trouble climbing up and down stairs, or failing to appropriately perform some activity of daily living – such a bathing or eating. On the other hand, if the parents' mental and physical health is not causing significant problems, the children may be reluctant to step in and search out senior support services or other living arrangements for their parents.

So, when and how do you begin to make sure your elderly family member is safe and managing well in his or her home? Most importantly, visit often and at different times of the day and night. Make note of daily activities that appear challenging and where changes might be made to add safety and convenience. Remove rugs that slide and might cause a fall; move furniture with sharp edges. Set the water heater at a lower temperature; this will protect their older sensitive skin from scalds and burns. Be sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in place.

Bathrooms are a major hazard area for the elderly. Grab bars by the toilet and shower are a must to help prevent falls. Another item that is good to have is a shower stool or chair.

If you are not sure of what needs to be done, consider hiring a professional. Keep in mind what future home adjustments might be needed for your parents to “age in place” in their home.

Home safety or medical alert companies provide GPS-based bracelets or pendants to track the elderly at home who tend to wander. Other devices can alert someone if there has been a fall or a sudden health-related problem; when the device is triggered, a 24 hour monitoring service will alert the family or medical emergency services or call a neighbor depending on previous instructions.

Don't forget your parents' community as a valuable resource for helping them stay in their home. Neighbors, local church groups, senior centers, and the area agency on aging are some the resources to look to for assistance. Most of the time there is little or no cost for these services.

The Egyptian Area Agency on Aging, through the Older Americans Act and other legislation, supports programs that help older adults maintain their independence and dignity in their homes and communities. The EAAA provides funding for a range of supports to family caregivers. Just some of the many programs the EAAA supports are:
  • Adult Day Services
  • Supportive Services and Senior Centers
  • Nutrition Services (congregate meals and “meals-on-wheels”)
  • Case Management
  • Family Caregiver Support Program
  • Home Modification
  • Homemaker and Respite Care Services

Based on my thirty-plus years of working with seniors, I offer the following thoughts on hiring home care aides or live-in care givers. There are people looking for work as aides to the elderly. Many of these aides are well-qualified, honest people who will do a good job; but, sadly, there are some not so reputable. If you are looking to hire someone, be sure you interview and check references and qualifications. You will be responsible for scheduling that person and doing payroll and taxes as well. Stay away from those who want to be paid in cash and do not want you to report the payments; you do not need a ticking time-bomb that is likely to blow up in your face. Also be very sure you hire someone trustworthy, as the elderly seem to trust these helpers more than they should and, therefore, can be easily taken advantage of.

On the other hand, a professional home care service can eliminate your employment-related concerns. Professionally-provided aides are usually bonded and service is guaranteed. Home care companies take care of the scheduling and payment of their employees.

Care in the home that is provided by a spouse or children is the most common form of long-term care in this country. In fact, nearly 75% of all long-term care is provided by family caregivers in the parents’ or a child’s home.

Finally, families need to know that there is a little-known federal government program that, given the right circumstances, that can help pay the cost of elder care. It is estimated that approximately 1/3 of all U.S. senior households (those with war-time veterans or their surviving spouses) might qualify for as much as $1,949 per month in additional income to help pay for the cost of long-term care at home. But the provisions of this program are such a well-kept secret that only 4.7% of U.S. seniors are actually receiving the benefit. The great news about this program is the VA will pay the senior to hire his (or her) children, other family member, or just about anyone to take care of him (however, caregiving spouses can't be paid under this program). And, if your parent’s medical condition eventually requires a transition to an assisted or supportive care facility, the VA money can be used to help pay for his care at the facility.

Richard Habiger is an elder law attorney, who focuses on estate preservation, disability, Medicaid and VA benefits, and Alzheimer’s and life care planning. You may contact him at 618-549-4529 or toll-free (in Illinois only) at 800-336-4529.

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Physical Address
1808 Clark Street, Carterville, Illinois 62918
Phone: 618-985-4529
Toll Free: 800-336-4529

Mailing Address
1808 Clark Street
Carterville, Illinois 62918
Phone: (618) 985-4529