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Nursing Home Alternatives

While countless seniors find care and comfort in nursing home settings, it is still a daunting prospect to many people who hope to live out their later years in their own home. Health issues and financial circumstances may dictate that your loved one cannot stay in their home the way they had hoped. However, there are alternatives to consider before making that move.

Share Care
In some families, a combination of paid care and family (unpaid) care can be a great help. A visiting nurse or home health aid can stop by daily to check on the senior; family members can also come by and meet some needs. When more care is needed or it becomes too financially or emotionally cumbersome to cover care this way, consider sharing the care by pooling resources. Perhaps the senior could move into a living arrangement with someone else in a similar situation. The potential companionship and support of roommates cannot be overstated. Both families can then share the family care efforts and hire one aid to come by for both seniors, which will significantly reduce the cost.

Reducing Living Costs
Another option is moving your loved one to a less expensive living arrangement. Reducing the amount paid for housing, food and utilities may give you the room you need to pay for in-home care. Or, consider moving them closer to a family caregiver, who can oversee a large portion of the care needed.

Collage Care
Patch-working different types of care is as simple as using more expensive care for some things and less expensive care for other issues. If your senior needs just a few hours of skilled in-home care for only a small portion of the day – bathing, transferring from bed, etc - and mostly needs companionship and simple meal preparation, you may be able to connect with the community to have a local volunteer, such as a high school student, that could come to the home. You may also be able to hire a college student through their campus employment office to run errands at a considerably lower rate than an adult caregiver would charge.

Adult Daycare
Adult daycare is another option; it has been shown to greatly reduce caregiver burnout for family members. Adult daycare can be anything from one or two hours a week to full days. Adult daycares typically provide a shuttle service, meals and socialization for people of different physical and cognitive levels. They often also provide services specially designed for people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, and can be significantly less expensive than in-home care. While Medicare does not pay for adult daycare and while California’s Medi-Cal program does not, some state Medicaid programs do, as does long-term care insurance. Is your loved one a veteran? The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers adult daycare centers for vets who qualify.

The key is learning about options and planning accordingly.