Do you have clients who are trying to manage home care for aging parents in addition to their work and home responsibilities? Are they running themselves ragged driving Mom or Dad to doctor appointments, helping them bathe and dress, and taking care of their cooking and cleaning? Perhaps your elderly clients themselves are struggling to maintain their health and independence but are too proud to ask for private duty home care help. Every family faces challenges like these, but few plan adequately to address private elder care needs that can disrupt their lives dramatically and create unforeseen financial burdens. Helping your clients prepare for family caregiving responsibilities today can save them money and minimize stress down the road.

Many people still believe that the next step for elders who can no longer care for themselves without help is to move to assisted living and eventually a nursing home. But most elders would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible, and trying to convince them to move to a facility for their own safety can be traumatic for the entire family. Private duty home care is the perfect solution for elders who need extra help but want to remain in their own homes.  Since Medicare doesn’t pay for private duty care, though, many seniors and their families don’t consider it as an affordable option.  However, private duty care can be very affordable and even save families money when compared with the costs of certain assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. As a financial service provider, you have an opportunity to educate your clients about private duty home care and help them plan to successfully age in place.

Here are some tips for when talking to older clients about financing their longevity and looking at private duty home care as an option:

  • Approach the subject with sensitivity. Explain that you understand that it is important for them to maintain their independence, and that private duty home care is an option that allows them to do so.
  • If you have a relationship with the family members of the older client, you may want to bring up your concerns with them first. Rallying them to start the discussion and act as a support group can be helpful for everyone involved.
  • Try telling a success story of another client whose decision to get private duty care allowed her to continue enjoying her daily routine and kept her close to friends and family.
  • Use positive language that underscores the freedom that private duty care will give them.  Waking up, eating, and having a shower whenever they like.  Having a caregiver attend to their needs during days and times they dictate, versus according to a facility’s schedule. Socializing with people they want to see whenever they want to see them.  The list goes on and on.
  • For the unconvinced, suggest to your clients that they try private duty care on a trial basis or for a particular need or concern such as help after surgery, housekeeping or driving at night.

Private Duty Care Costs: Establishing a Realistic Financing Plan

Costs of private duty home care will obviously be an important concern. Establishing a realistic care financing plan will often include long-term care insurance. For those clients who already have long term care insurance, you can help answer questions and ensure they understand their policy and claims process.  Many clients get confused about the elimination periods, for example, so make sure they understand how much they might have to spend out of pocket during that period. EasyLiving can also be a resource to help navigate the claims process.  We can answer your questions about how they work with insurers and other ways they assist clients in designing an affordable care plan. Whether your client is insured or not, EasyLiving can work with you and your clients to understand costs and coordinate a plan within their budget.

You may want to become familiar with some of the options for government assistance via Medicare, Medicaid and veteran’s home care benefits (or get to know experts you can rely on for questions about such coverage). Knowledge about these programs and other financial resources can be useful both at the time of need, and as you educate clients when planning ahead. Many seniors and their families don’t realize that Medicare is not intended to cover long term care expenses and that coverage is generally limited to hospital care, skilled, rehabilitative care (in home or nursing facility, for a limited time), doctor’s care and drug coverage.

Those who meet certain financial and other eligibility criteria, may seek assistance from Medicaid, a state administered group of programs covering a wide array of services. In Florida, there are several “Medicaid Waiver” programs in addition to the standard nursing home (ICP) Medicaid. Some of these waivers include Home and Community Based Services, Assisted Living Waiver and the Long Term Care Diversion program. Each has its own special criteria for eligibility, which is determined by the CARES unit within the Department of Elder Affairs. The care managers at EasyLiving’s sister company, Aging Wisely, LLC, can help clients navigate this complex array of programs and evaluate if an individual is eligible and which programs are beneficial to them. In addition, Aging Wisely’s care managers work closely with elder law attorneys when help is needed for financial eligibility.

Finally, it is important to give your clients guidance on how to select a private duty caregiver. Families will often pay a friend or neighbor to stop in and check on Mom or perform various caregiving responsibilities. There are liability and other issues your clients may not consider that could cost them:  taxes, insurance, liability and worker’s compensation, backup coverage, background checks, oversight and training. If hiring through a nurse registry or employment agency, the family may end up being the official employer, responsible for pay, taxes and other obligations. On the other end of the spectrum, fully licensed private duty home health agencies offer more comprehensive services and protections as employers of the caregivers.