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Where Do I Begin?

Know Your Options

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Some seniors grow old gracefully without needing much help, but many seniors experience health changes that can limit their independence and make it challenging for them to live alone safely. Chances are, you’ve come to icarevillage because you have concerns about your parents’ or loved ones’ changing needs. We have tons of valuable information and services that can help – with more cropping up every day. But where do you start? And how do you determine what’s best for your loved one’s unique situation? We can help with that, too.

The illustration below shows the different options for care, ranging from helping a person who is mostly independent to helping someone who needs medical care and assistance. Become familiar with the different terms, such as “Assisted Living” and “Skilled Nursing” so you won’t be comparing apples to oranges.

Know the Money Situation

Before you can begin making any serious decisions about your loved one’s care, you’ll need to know how much money is available. Some of these services may be covered by Medicare or Medicaid (MediCal in California) such as skilled home care, some adult day health programs, and skilled nursing care, but most are either private pay or cost sharing programs. There’s no sense looking into programs or services that are outside of the budget.

Tackling the $$ Taboo

Ideally, it’s wise to have this conversation with your parents ahead of time, but often this isn’t the case. If you’re uncertain how to bring up the topic of money -- often a taboo subject in parent-adult children relationships – Dan Taylor’s book The Parent Care Conversation offers some sound and practical tips.

If your parents are not able or not willing to talk about money issues, see if you can talk to their financial advisor. Ask your parents to direct you to banking or investment statements so you can see deposits, withdrawals and balances.

Questions you’ll need to ask:

  • How much social security is received each month?
  • Is there a pension?
  • Is there long-term care insurance?
  • What other assets are available now or in the future to pay for care, should they be needed?
  • What expenses are there?

Arm Yourself with Information

Find out what is available in your area before you talk to your loved one about making changes or accepting help. The more prepared you are, the less awkward the conversation is likely to be.

Before inquiring about home care, make a list of questions that are specific to the special needs or situation of your relative. The following questions can get you started:

  • What service(s) is offered?
  • How much does the service cost?
  • Who typically uses the service? (seniors with physical challenges or memory impairment for example), staff or caregivers who provide the care, etc.
  • What training do the care providers have that qualifies them to help with your relative’s situation?
  • When is the service available: 5 days a week? 24/7? As needed?