Health

The Cost of In-Home Care:  Are You Prepared?

In-home care can be very beneficial for family caregivers who need help providing care for an aging loved one.  These services also allow many seniors who want to age in place to remain in their homes.

Professional in-home caregivers – whether through an agency or independent operators – typically provide assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, medication management, light housework and running errands.

For those who need medical care at home, home health care nurses or trained health professionals are available.  Home care can be pricey, and in some cases costs more than care in an assisted living community.  As with other types of senior care, in-home care rates vary by state and region.

The following rates represent average daily, monthly and yearly in-home care costs for seniors in each of the 50 states.  The yearly rates are based on 44 hours of care per week, multiplied by 52 weeks.  It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of in-home care in different areas can vary more widely within larger states.

State Daily Monthly Yearly
Alabama $100 $3,051 $36,608
Alaska $163 $4,967 $59,488
Arizona $125 $3,813 $45,760
Arkansas $113 $3,432 $41,184
California $144 $4,385 $52,624
Colorado $141 $4,290 $51,480
Connecticut $125 $3,813 $45,760
Delaware $138 $4,195 $50,336
District of Columbia $100 $3,051 $36,608
Florida $116 $3,527 $42,328
Georgia $113 $3,432 $41,184
Hawaii $150 $4,576 $54,912
Idaho $125 $3,813 $45,760
Illinois $132 $4,029 $48,345
Indiana $122 $3,718 $42,330
Iowa $132 $4,004 $40,048
Kansas $125 $3,813 $45,760
Kentucky $113 $3,432 $41,184
Louisiana $96 $2,908 $34,892
Maine $138 $4,195 $50,336
Maryland $125 $3,790 $45,485
Massachusetts $156 $4,738 $56,857
Michigan $127 $3,861 $46,332
Minnesota $150 $4,576 $54,912
Mississippi $107 $3,241 $38,896
Missouri $117 $3,550 $42,603
Montana $144 $4,385 $52,624
Nebraska $144 $4,385 $54,912
Nevada $133 $4,052 $48,620
New Hampshire $150 $4,576 $54,912
New Jersey $32 $4,004 $48,048
New Mexico $130 $3,954 $47,453
New York $138 $4,195 $50,336
North Carolina $111 $3,384 $40,612
North Dakota $175 $5,331 $63,972
Ohio $122 $3,718 $44,616
Oklahoma $135 $3,813 $45,760
Oregon $144 $4,385 $52,624
Pennsylvania $135 $4,099 $52,624
Rhode Island $144 $4,385 $59,161
South Carolina $113 $3,432 $41,184
South Dakota $144 $4,387 $52,647
Tennessee $113 $3,432 $41,184
Texas $119 $3,613 $43,358
Utah $132 $4,004 $48,048
Vermont $138 $4,195 $50,336
Virginia $119 $3,623 $43,472
Washington $156 $4,736 $56,834
West Virginia $100 $3,028 $36,333
Wisconsin $141 $4,290 $51,480
Wyoming $163 $4,957 $59,488

Source: 2016 Cost of Care Survey, Genworth

In 2016, the national average cost for in-home care was $45,760 per year, Genworth found.  The states with the highest median monthly rates for in-home care were:

  1. North Dakota– $5,331
  2. Alaska and Wyoming — $4,957
  3. Massachusetts – $4,738
  4. Washington — $4,736

And those with the lowest average monthly rates were:

  1. Louisiana — $2,908
  2. West Virginia — $3,028
  3. Alabama and District of Columbia — $3,051
  4. Mississippi– $3,241

Clearly, no matter where you reside the cost of care for older individuals is not cheap.  However, the key to a secure and comfortable retirement is to put a legal and financial plan in place early.

 

Companies Create First Sheets to Prevent Bedsores

Bedsores can be deadly for people on bed rest.  Precision Fabrics and Standard Textile have combined to create DermaTherapy, a bed sheet that actually prevents bedsores.  Originally Precision Fabrics tested a synthetic silk sheet to determine if a new fabric would wick away the moisture and heat of hot flashes to allow women going through menopause to sleep better.  Then the sister of a Precision Fabrics corporate manager became ill with cancer and developed several bed sores.  The manager “saw the ravage that they created, knew what we did and said, ‘We have to advance this technology.’  The product focus expanded from menopause and overall better, deeper sleep to an application in acute health care, long-term care and home healthcare.  After 11 clinical trials at several hospitals showed incidences of pressure ulcers were reduced by 65 percent to 80 percent, the Food and Drug Administration certified DermaTherapy as a medical device in June of this year.  It’s a first for a bed sheet, and it flips conventional thinking on its head:  Instead of sheets and pads protecting the mattress, they protect the patient.  What the company found during the trials is that so-called pressure ulcers aren’t caused by pressure at all but rather by what happens when moisture, friction and shear of bed linens interact with skin.  The short fibers of cotton break down with use and become abrasive.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate that hospital-acquired pressure ulcers add about $11 billion to the nation’s health care bill each year.  CMS will not reimburse hospitals for treating bed sores since they are considered avoidable.  These wounds generally occur on patients who are in frail health and can lead to rapid decline and death.  Precision’s patented fabric has carbon channels and antimicrobial characteristics to reduce odor and static, and a treatment to repel stains.  With the FDA approval, the company hopes that it can change the mindset of hospital and nursing home managers to view bed sheets as part of patients’ treatment rather than as housekeeping items.

 

Facebook Could Be Associated With a Longer Life

Over the past decade there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over what all the screen time on Facebook and other social media might be doing to our health.  But according to a new paper, time spent on social media could be associated with a longer life.  The paper, published in the journal PNAS on Monday, asserts that the health effects of active online social lives largely mirror the benefits of busy offline social lives.  “We find that people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts,” the paper says.  “This evidence contradicts assertions that social media have had a net-negative impact on health.”  The study’s methods are detailed at length in the paper, and it was approved by three university and state review boards.

But skeptics will note that Facebook itself was closely involved with the paper.  William Hobbs, 29, a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University, worked at Facebook as a research intern in 2013. Another of the paper’s authors, Moira Burke, worked on it in her capacity as a research scientist at Facebook.  Mr. Hobbs, who conducted the research while he was a doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, said Facebook had not interfered with the results of the paper.

The study was based on 12 million social media profiles made available to the researchers by Facebook, as well as records from the California Department of Health.  It found that “moderate use” of Facebook was associated with the lowest mortality rate, and that receiving friend requests correlated with reduced mortality, but that sending friend requests did not.

So if you find yourself spending hours on Facebook, you no longer need to feel unproductive because you could be extending the length of your life.  If you would like to visit our Facebook page, click here Hugg & Associates.

 

New Lawsuit Threatens Nursing Home Patients

In late September, nursing home patients and their families got a legal leg up when a federal agency finalized a rule that would assist them in suing nursing facilities when things go wrong.  Now nursing homes and assisted living providers are fighting back.

Industry lobby groups American Health Care Association and the Mississippi Health Care Association, along with four other nursing home and assisted living service providers, filed a class action lawsuit on Monday in Mississippi federal court, challenging the new rule rolled out at the end of September by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The final rule, which is set to go into effect in November, would ban nursing homes and assisted living facilities from forcing patients and their families into private arbitration to resolve disputes — a practice that keeps such conflicts out of the court system.  The long-awaited rule would only apply to new contracts, and only to facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid — although that is nearly all of them.  Although the rule would bar nursing homes from using forced arbitration clauses, it does leave the door open for facilities and consumers to enter into voluntary arbitration agreements.

Monday’s lawsuit claims that in rolling out the rule, two federal regulators — Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Andrew M. Slavitt, the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — overstepped their authority.

The industry groups claim that neither organization has the power to regulate alternative dispute resolution procedures, and that the rule runs afoul of the Federal Arbitration Act.  “Long-term care facilities and their residents and residents’ families should not be deprived of the ability to choose arbitration, a valuable form of dispute resolution,” according to the lawsuit.

We’ll have to see how all this plays out in court.  However, just know that many contracts will have an arbitration provision in them and you should understand the full impact of the provision.

 

Loneliness May Signal Alzheimer’s

SubtAlzheimer'sle feelings of loneliness might warn of impending Alzheimer’s disease in older folks, a new study suggests.

Healthy seniors with elevated brain levels of amyloid — a type of protein fragment associated with Alzheimer’s disease — seem more likely to feel lonely than people with lower levels of amyloid, researchers found.

“For people who have high levels of amyloid — the people truly at high risk for Alzheimer’s — they were 7.5 times more likely to be lonely than non-lonely,” said lead researcher Dr. Nancy Donovan. She’s director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Studies have long shown that people who remain socially active are less likely to develop dementia, Donovan said.

But the results of the new study suggest that that relationship may work the other way around, as well — that people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s might be more apt to feel lonely, or socially detached.

“People who are starting to accumulate amyloid may not be as well-functioning in terms of perceiving, understanding or responding to social stimuli or interactions,” Donovan said. “This could be an early social signal of mental change.”

If this is proven, then doctors might be able to screen for Alzheimer’s by paying closer attention to patients’ emotional health, she suggested.

To examine the relationship between late-life loneliness and Alzheimer’s risk, Donovan and her colleagues examined 43 women and 36 men, average age 76.  All were healthy, with no signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia.  The investigators particularly focused on amyloid levels in the cerebral cortex, a part of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, perception and thought.  People with high levels of amyloid in the cortex were 7.5 times more likely to be classified as feeling lonely, even after researchers accounted for how socially active they were and whether they suffered from depression or anxiety.

By taking into account the extent of the person’s social network, Donovan’s team showed that seniors who feel isolated or socially detached even when surrounded by friends or family could be at elevated risk for Alzheimer’s.

However, the study doesn’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

If this is substantiated by other larger studies, then a logical question would be, what kind of intervention would result?  If you can impact on this loneliness by creating interventions where people were taken out of their loneliness and engaged in social events, would there be less likelihood of dementia?

 

When Hiring For In-Home Care

In-home care, also called home health care or aging-in-place, brings medical care and treatment right to your doorstep.  Part of this often requires you to hire a Home Health Aid to help out.

Here are some important issues you should consider before hiring for in home care:

Your level of comfort with someone coming into your home

  • Your ability to easily communicate with that person
  • The level of care they can provide you

With that, the following checklist will help you find the best caregiver for your particular needs:

  1. Does the caregiver speak in a manner that can be easily understood by the patient at all times?

  1. Does the caregiver have the proper language skills to easily understand the patient and the person overseeing the care?
  1. Does the caregiver have experience with the patient’s health situation?
  1. Is the caregiver amenable to changing his or her care giving style based on the particular needs of the patient?
  1. If the caregiver will be offering medical care, does he or she have the requisite qualifications and certifications?
  1. If the caregiver will be helping the patient with bathing, dressing, using the toilet, and other physical activities, is he or she physically strong enough to support the patient?
  1. If the caregiver will be providing transportation services, does he or she have a valid driver’s license?
  1. How will you manage division of labor and the social dynamics if there will be multiple caregivers working together?
  1. Have background checks been run on any potential candidates to make sure they haven’t been found guilty of abuse or neglect?

While there are certainly more inquiries that can be made, the foregoing is a good starting point when gathering information about someone who will come into your or your loved one’s home.  Hopefully you have a comprehensive plan covering finances, legal, housing and care is already in place.  If not, this is the time to get started.  Do some homework and seek out professional assistance.