Not only do many people mistakenly believe that Medicare covers all nursing home care, but they also tend to view nursing homes as the only option available when the care of an older family member has become too difficult to manage at home. There are actually many other levels of care to consider for the older individual.
If the senior is living at home or with relatives and is experiencing health and memory issues that require supervision while the family is at work or needing respite, adult day care or adult day health care centers can be a valuable service. Meals, activities, assistance with medications, and safe supervision are often just what the family needs to maintain a manageable daily routine. Your nearest senior center can direct you to an adult day care center in your area.
If the older relative is unable to attend such a center for a variety of reasons, in-home care may be helpful. There are literally dozens of home care agencies in the area, all of which provide companion services, meal preparation, assistance with bathing and grooming, laundry and more. If the senior is low-income or a veteran, he or she may qualify for free or low-cost services. Again, check with the senior center, or call Sourcewise at 408.350.3200 for free assistance linking to such services.
Remaining at home, with either adult day care or in-home care, is sometimes no longer possible. The senior relative may wander too extensively, or have behavioral/health issues that require a living situation outside of the home. In this situation the family can investigate residential care homes and assisted living centers. Residential care homes are houses in the neighborhood that are staffed to care for several seniors. Because it is an actual home, there is no sense of being in a hospital or nursing home environment.
Assisted living centers are usually large facilities with individual apartments for residents, a main dining room, activity areas, and transportation for doctor appointments and social outings. Some have either a nursing facility on the premises or a nurse available for residents’ health needs. Fees are based on the level of care needed, ranging from simply housing and meals to assistance with dressing, bathing and medication reminders. There are many assisted living centers throughout the area, all of which welcome visitors and provide tours.
Nursing homes, usually referred to as skilled nursing facilities, are needed by individuals with complex medical needs, such as daily physical therapy and dialysis, and for those who are at a stage of needing assistance with daily tasks of living and will not improve or regain independence.
For a list of skilled nursing facilities, and information about licensing requirements and compliance, contact California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) at canhr.org. Cheryl Huguenor is the program director at Live Oak Adult Day Services in Gilroy. For more information visit liveoakadultdaycare.org.