February 3-9, 2016

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Elder Care

Services can help seniors stay home

As people grow older and more frail, more support is needed to enable them to stay in their own homes. Research shows that most would rather remain in their own homes than go to a nursing home.   

An assessment can provide a starting point. In Pennsylvania, Area Agencies on Aging, like Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), provide free assessments to individuals 18 and older upon request. 

To begin, an assessment professional meets with the individual in the home to evaluate the level and types of care needed, and financial resources available. Low-income seniors who qualify clinically may be eligible for care at little or no cost; others may qualify for cost-sharing. The assessment helps determine eligibility and what options are available.
Help comes to you
Personal care services provide help with such daily activities as bathing and toileting; assistance with dressing and grooming; and help with medication. Some household tasks may be included, such as meal preparation, shopping, laundry and light housekeeping.  You may contract for these yourself, or go through PCA or another care management organization.

When hiring home care assistance yourself, it’s important to know the medical and care needs and the skills and training required, advises Connie Jones, RN, nursing supervisor with PCA’s Long Term Care Access Department. “Be sure that the agency does criminal background checks and that you get references. Keep an eye on the situation: pop in unannounced to check how things are going, and be sure to report any problems as soon as they occur.” 

Care and companionship
Adult day services centers are non-residential programs for those who are isolated, or cannot remain safely at home alone. Centers provide care, oversight, and social connections, according to Cynthia Wishkovsky, vice president for aging programs at the Center at Journey’s Way’s adult day program in Northwest Philadelphia.

“People really need social interaction — to feel part of something and be a part of others’ lives,” Wishkovsky says. Services provided typically include medication administration; on-site nursing; oversight of physical and other therapies; health screenings; meals; grooming; showers; laundry; transportation; activities such as art, music and exercise; and caregiver support.

Managed care programs
Pennsylvania’s Living Independently for Elders (LIFE) programs serve individuals 55-plus, who are eligible for nursing home care, but choose to remain at home. LIFE programs provide services managed by an interdisciplinary team. Services are delivered at adult day centers and in the home. These include medical and nursing care; medication management; meals; rehabilitation; personal care; homemaker services; transportation; and caregiver support. Affiliated hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes provide care as needed.

Caregiver Karen Middleton says her mother receives transportation to medical appointments and attends one of Mercy LIFE program’s adult day centers “where she has fun,” and the staff monitors her health.  An aide helps in the home two hours a day, and Middleton participates in the program’s caregiver support group.

“Caregivers can get really stressed out,” Middleton says. “I’m really glad there are programs, like LIFE, available to help.”

 There are three LIFE Programs in Philadelphia, each of which serves a designated geographic area.

 To schedule an assessment, or for information on aging resources, call the PCA Helpline, 215-765-9040.  PCA’s website includes a resource directory of aging services and agencies in the region.