Caregiving for elders

Costs of Caring for an Aging Loved One

Many adult children care for a parent in their golden years. Some are surprised by the costs of caring for an aging loved one. Family caregivers spend an annual average of $7,400 of their own money on caregiving expenses. In combination with a possible loss of income due to time away from work, it can sometimes be a financial strain for families.

Here are three steps you can take to reduce out-of-pocket caregiving expenses and recover some financial costs.

1.  Create a budget and track expenses.

Caring for an elderly loved one includes many expenses that you may not think of. Keep track of these expenses. After a few months, you can better predict what your caregiving expenses will be and adjust your budget accordingly. If you have siblings or other loved ones who may share the caregiving costs with you, it is a useful tool to split costs evenly. If you haven’t already, consider asking your loved ones for help with these caregiving expenses.

Possible Recurring Caregiving Expenses Possible One-time Caregiving Expenses
·         Groceries

·         Medical co-payments

·         Travel to and from doctor’s appointments

·         Incontinence supplies

·         Clothing

·         In-home professional care

·         Housekeeping

·         Mortgage

·         Home modification (railings, shower seat, etc.)

·         Medical alert system

·         Vehicle modifications

2.  Research tax implications of caregiving.

Understanding IRS guidelines for caregiver and senior filing can save you money and help you recoup some of your caregiving costs. If you meet these seven requirements outlined by the IRS, you may be able to claim an elderly parent as a dependent on your tax return. You may also be able to deduct medical expenses and home modification costs up to a certain amount. If you’re not sure about IRS rules and guidelines, talk to a tax professional to make sure you qualify for these benefits.

3.  Consider professional support.

For caregivers who want to keep their loved one at home, participating in a local Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) can provide professional medical care and significantly reduce the costs of caring for an aging loved one.

PACE provides eligible seniors the following services, typically at no added cost:

  • Preventive care and routine screenings
  • Dental and vision care
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Medical supplies, home safety modifications, and much more

PACE participants have a team of health care professionals that work to develop a customized care plan for each individual.

To learn more about WelbeHealth’s PACE services, visit welbehealth.com.

An Appropriate Patient for WelbeHealth PACE

WelbeHealth PACE provider, Sepideh Chegini, MD, says her late father would have benefited from the company’s health services.

 

Sepideh Chegini, MD, says her father would have had a better quality of life if he had access to WelbeHealth PACE services. Dr. Chegini serves as WelbeHealth’s chief medical officer. As such, she sees WelbeHealth’s quality of care, and knows her dad would have been in good hands.

Dr. Chegini says, “I believe we could have cared for him at home, and we could have improved his quality of life. [WelbeHealth] would have definitely made a huge impact on my family’s quality of life.”

Nursing Home Alternative

Dr. Chegini’s father became quadriplegic after he was struck by a vehicle. Dr. Chegini’s family tried to care for her father in their home, but eventually moved him to a nursing home as his health declined. There, he lived out the remaining nine years of his life.

“We all live with that desire, that question in our mind, Well what if? What if we could have cared for him at home,” says Dr. Chegini.

She believes her father could have stayed at home with the help and support of a PACE program such as the one WelbeHealth offers.

“We want to get to a place where hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are no longer necessary for at least the majority of our participants,” she explains. “We want to make sure we can deliver the care where our participants need it the mostwhich is in their home environment.”

WelbeHealth PACE Services Care for the Mind, Body, and Spirit

WelbeHealth cares for the physical health of participants as well as their mental and emotional health. Dr. Chegini is passionate about WelbeHealth because it helps frail seniors, like her dad, continue to live in their homes and communities and get access to the holistic care they need.

“We want to make sure that we meet all our participants’ needs in a very holistic waymind, body, spirit,” she says.

Watch our video of Dr. Chegini, telling her story.

 

Taking care of an elder

3 Tips to Stay Well While Being the Caregiver of a Senior

Nearly 17 percent of Americans are caregivers to an elderly adult over the age of 50. Choosing to care for an older relative is a selfless act. One of the best things you can do for them is to stay physically and emotionally strong. Here are three simple tips to maintaining your well-being as a caregiver of a senior.

1.  Take Care of Yourself

As a caregiver of a senior, it is important to continue taking care of yourself. Caregivers commonly neglect their own health needs. In the long run, this can wear you down and make it harder to provide care to your loved one. Make sure you continue to maintain your own doctor appointments, mental health, and other health and wellness needs.

2.  “Caregiver of a Senior” Support Groups

Caregiver support groups can be a source of community and friendship. By joining a support group, you can find the support and wisdom that makes a world of difference. Here are some resources to help you find in-person or virtual support groups to connect with other caregivers.

3.  Ask for Help

As the caregiver of a senior, it can be difficult to admit that you need help. But as a caregiver, asking for and accepting help can be a gift to yourself and your loved one. Siblings, in-laws, friends, and neighbors can often provide relief when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

If your loved one has more complex medical needs, then finding professional help may be necessary. At WelbeHealth, we provide caregivers with respite care, transportation to medical appointments, and home care assistance.

Learn more about how WelbeHealth can support you as a caregiver.

 

Did You Know? More than 58% of family members experience less caregiver burden after enrollment in a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

 

WelbeHealth Celebrates National PACE Month

September is National PACE Month, celebrating the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). WelbeHealth’s innovative PACE model helps California’s frailest seniors live in their homes as long as possible. More than 95 percent of participants enrolled in the PACE program live outside of a nursing home.

“This year, we celebrate National PACE Month as we work to recover from the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which provides us a unique perspective to celebrate the original development of the PACE model of care and envision a future where every American will have access to PACE,” says Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association (NPA).

Did you know? The incidence of PACE participants contracting or dying from COVID-19 was one-third the rate of nursing home residents.

PACE: A History of Innovative Senior Care in California

There are currently 140 PACE organizations in 30 states. The organizations serve more than 55,000 seniors. Before PACE grew to what it is today, it started in California. The program began in San Francisco in 1971 as a unique way to care for elderly with chronic conditions and to help them maintain independence, dignity, and quality of life in their communities.

PACE has a proven history of providing excellent senior care, while allowing individuals to live safely in the homes and communities they know and love. On average, PACE participants are 76 years old and live with multiple medical conditions. Around 46 percent have some form of dementia.

Fun Fact: In California, 65 PACE centers and alternative care settings care for over 13,000 seniors in 22 counties.

Tapping PACE’s Potential

California’s senior population is growing faster than any other age group. By 2030, 25 percent of Californians will be 60 or older. Senior care must evolve to meet the challenges of caring for the older population. PACE is a critical part of the solution.

“Now the time is right to demand more from our long-term care delivery system. PACE is ready to help every community meet that challenge,” says Bloom.

PACE provides home care, prescription drugs, transportation, meals, therapies, and any other services seniors need to remain safely in their homes. This comprehensive care is preventive in nature and results in better health outcomes for participants.

The PACE model is a critical part of keeping seniors independent and out of the hospital. About 92 percent of seniors enrolled in the program are very satisfied with the care provided by PACE. Additionally, 97 percent of caregivers would recommend PACE.

More Accessible Senior Care

Nearly 90 percent of Californians want access to services that help them live at home in their communities as they age. But, non-white and lower-income Americans report less access to local services that would help them do so. PACE can meet the needs of a diverse aging population, including lower-income seniors and individuals of color. In California, 80 percent of PACE program participants are from communities of color.

Supporting the Mental Health of Seniors

Health care doesn’t just include care for the physical body; it includes care for the mind too. Solely focusing on physical health and disregarding the mental health of seniors can reduce their quality of life. WelbeHealth recognizes this. As a PACE provider (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), WelbeHealth addresses all aspects of wellness to keep seniors living safely in their community.

An estimated 20 percent of Americans over age 55 have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, only three percent of those individuals seek out mental health services. WelbeHealth supports the mental health of seniors through a collaborative, gentle approach to improve well-being and health outcomes.

1.   Building Trust

Rona Lomeda is a Complex Case Nurse for WelbeHealth. Her 30 years of experience in behavioral health and geriatric care have shown her the key to successfully treating the mental health of seniors is trust.

Lomeda says, “The most important thing we do is make sure our seniors feel loved. That’s what develops trust in the relationship. Ultimately, that’s how we provide the best care to seniors struggling with mental illnesses.”

WelbeHealth also builds trust by being available 24/7. Whether participants are at the day center, in their home, or on the road, WelbeHealth is just a call away. Staying in close communication with seniors lets them know that they always have someone they can lean on in times of fear, confusion, or loneliness.

2.   Nurturing Companionship Among Peers

Over 40 percent of seniors report feeling lonely on a daily basis. And, studies have shown that loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. That’s why WelbeHealth helps provide companionship for all participants, especially those with mental illness.

WelbeHealth participants find companionship through:

  • Coming to the day center
  • Eating meals with other participants
  • Engaging in center activities that interest them
  • Visiting with caring staff members
  • Calling the WelbeHealth team via phone or tablet
  • Visiting with drivers and other participants during transportation rides

3.   Providing Individual Care and Education

Untreated mental illness can have a domino effect on other areas of health. For example, a senior who is severely depressed may not feel like taking their diabetes medication, which can harm other areas of their body.

To help solve this, WelbeHealth provides individualized care and education.

Lomeda says, “If a patient has trouble taking daily pills, we consider administering their medicine through injection once a week. These kinds of adjustments can make all the difference in the health of the participant. Once we have trust built, we can educate them on the importance of taking their medication and find the best ways to administer it for them.”

Professional therapists are also available to support the mental health of seniors at WelbeHealth. Therapy sessions are done in person or via telemedicine when needed. Visiting with a therapist regularly can help older adults work through feelings of grief, accept a challenging health diagnosis, and support them in overcoming anxious thoughts and feelings.

“We try to connect seniors to therapy instead of prescribing medication right away,” says Lomeda.

4.   Giving Relief to Caregivers

Some WelbeHealth participants live alone. Others live with a caregiver, such as a spouse or adult child. Being a caregiver can be exhausting, especially if your loved one has a mental illness. WelbeHealth makes it a priority to provide support to caregivers, so they can best care for their loved one.

Caregivers of WelbeHealth participants benefit from:

  • Respite care
  • Education
  • Transportation for their loved one
  • Support groups
  • Home care assistance

Supporting the mental health of seniors is just one way WelbeHealth helps older adults and their families. WelbeHealth provides primary care, physical and occupational therapy, dental care, vision care, and more. Visit our FAQ page or contact us for further information.

Transportation Services for Seniors Improves Quality of Life

Transportation Benefits Seniors and Caregivers

According to the CDC, the risk of being injured in a vehicle accident increases as we age. So, it is important to know when to give up the keys and allow someone else to do the driving. About 600,000 seniors a year choose to do so. Fortunately, for seniors enrolled with WelbeHealth, transportation services for seniors is taken care of. The all-inclusive services benefit program participants and their caregivers.

WelbeHealth’s transportation services for seniors provide comfort, convenience, and clear communication to families and participants. The team transports participants to and from their medical appointments and the day center, and delivers medical equipment and prescriptions to their homes.

Comfortable, Friendly Transportation for Seniors

WelbeHealth’s vehicles are outfitted with necessary ramps, lifts, and sidestep stools, so rides are easy and safe. The vans are ADA compliant, making getting in and out of the vehicle easier for seniors of all mobility levels. Plus, WelbeHealth’s friendly transportation professionals are there to make sure participants have the assistance they need.

“Our drivers know participants by name,” says Rogelio Rodriguez, Senior Manager of Transportation at WelbeHealth. “We want participants to feel welcome, like family.”

Participants often listen to the radio and oldies music on their drives. WelbeHealth drivers take requests! Sometimes, a sing-along may even break out.

Convenience for Families

Adult children, spouses, and other caregivers average at least five hours a week providing and arranging transportation for their aging loved ones. Family members often have to take time off of work to take their loved ones to medical appointments. WelbeHealth’s transportation services for seniors provide the transportation to medical appointments and the day center. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, primary care, and all other medically necessary appointments. Caregivers don’t need to worry about picking up prescription medications either. WelbeHealth drivers deliver that too.

Ultimately, by using WelbeHealth’s transportation services, families save on gas and valuable time at work. And, if they are a full-time caregiver, they can use the extra time to rest or run errands. Of course, family members are always welcome to ride along in the WelbeHealth vehicle to any medical appointment they would like. This can be arranged beforehand through the scheduling team.

Clear Communication

With many appointments to attend, sometimes important details can get lost. Keeping up with which doctor you’re seeing, what time, and where the office is, can be a hassle. WelbeHealth makes life easy by scheduling appointments and arranging the transportation services for seniors enrolled in the program. Participants and their families stay well informed with appointment reminder calls the day before and the day of the appointment.

“We pride ourselves on clear communication,” says Rodriguez. “Our team always calls participants with a reminder the day before and when we are on the way to pick them up.”

Since 46 percent of WelbeHealth participants have some form of dementia, the team makes sure that participants experiencing cognitive decline get where they need to be safely. If a participant is confused about an appointment, the WelbeHealth transportation professional makes sure to confirm the details before dropping them off at an appointment.

Transportation services for seniors is just one of the many benefits of enrolling with WelbeHealth. WelbeHealth provides seniors with primary care, physical and occupational therapy, dental care, vision care, and more. Visit our FAQ page or contact us for further information.

What is PACE? How can it help me stay independent?

What is PACE, and how can it help me stay well and independent?

Too often, elders and their caregivers struggle to get the help they need in their homes. Maybe you’re experiencing this challenge yourself. If so, you may not realize that WelbeHealth provides an affordable alternative to nursing home care, called PACE. PACE is a program that keeps seniors with complex health conditions living safely in their homes and gives families the support they need. But, what exactly is PACE? What are the benefits of the program? Below, we’ll explain.

What is PACE?

PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a healthcare option for seniors whose health issues may affect their independence. This program is a great alternative to nursing home care and gives seniors the support they need to continue living safely in their homes.

WelbeHealth provides PACE in a way that participants and their families often say seems almost “too good to be true.” We are committed to unlocking the full potential of seniors through our courage to love, pioneering spirit and shared intent. The program is funded by the federal government, and WelbeHealth is a licensed PACE provider in the state of California. When you enroll in PACE with WelbeHealth, we provide your care, and are also financially responsible for your care. Essentially, the program is your health care provider and health insurance combined.

Fun Fact: As of June 2021, 139 PACE programs were operating in 30 states, serving nearly 56,000 older Americans.

What does the PACE program do?

Once enrolled in the program, participants get access to preventive, coordinated care. A personalized care plan is tailored to each participant’s unique physical and emotional needs. Most coordinated care is administered at the day center. Here are some of the healthcare services provided by the program:

Transportation

For seniors who no longer drive, transportation can be a hassle and a burden for families. PACE provides transportation from your home to the day center and to medical appointments. Rides are wheelchair accessible and comfortable. In addition to taking you from place to place, the highly trained drivers deliver medication and medical supplies to your home when needed.

Dental, Vision and Hearing

Hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dentures are not always covered by Medicare. Participants of PACE receive these medically necessary items at no cost. As a program participant, you’ll have access to a dentist, mental health specialist, ophthalmologist, and more.

If the PACE care team determines that you need to see a specialist to treat a complex medical condition, they will coordinate the visit. Treatment for COPD, dementia, kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease are all accessible through the program’s network of specialty physicians. And all the transportation is coordinated for you!

FYI: The average PACE participant has 6 chronic conditions. The PACE team is experienced in caring for seniors who have multiple diagnoses.

Social Engagement

Science has proven that social interaction does wonders for our mental and physical health. That’s why PACE has a team of activity specialists who coordinates social activities. Whether it’s board games at the day center, themed meals, or group exercises, there is always plenty going on at the PACE center.

In-Home Assistance

Upon enrollment, we will do a safety assessment in your home. We’ll look for trip hazards, like cluttered walkways and loose rugs. Next, we will make improvements to your home to make it safer, such as installing wheelchair ramps and grab bars if needed. Educating seniors and their caregivers is an important step in preventing falls.

If your PACE care team determines that it is medically necessary, you may also receive medical care in your home from registered nurses and certified nursing assistants. This may include incontinence care, injections and blood draws, as well as wound care.

Telemedicine

PACE participants gain access to telehealth services. You’ll be given a tablet that allows you to access your care team on-demand. Many participants enjoy the comfort of knowing someone is always available if an emergency should occur. Via telehealth, participants can check in with nurses, track their vitals and medications, and participate in virtual activities.

Medication Management

Over 20 percent of older adults report not taking medication as prescribed due to the high cost of their medication. Did you know cutting pills and skipping doses can actually worsen health conditions? When enrolled, your team of healthcare professionals will make sure you take the right medication at the right time each day, which keeps you healthy and living independently.

Additionally, PACE offers Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Once you become a program participant, you’ll get your Part D-covered drugs and all other necessary medication from PACE.

Will I have to change my doctor?

Upon enrolling in the program, you’ll begin seeing a doctor at the PACE center. All your healthcare services will be provided by PACE. The doctors and medical staff are highly experienced in caring for seniors with complex medical conditions, so you can trust you’re in good hands.

What are the benefits of PACE?

Interdisciplinary Team

Many parts work together to keep a car running well. Likewise, you need many healthcare providers working together to keep you living well. The PACE interdisciplinary team (IDT) is made up of senior healthcare experts whose top priority is providing you with personalized, coordinated care. They work together, meeting regularly to make sure your needs are met.

The PACE care team consists of:

  • Primary care physician
  • Nurses
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Dietitian
  • Social worker
  • Recreational therapist
  • Home care coordinator
  • Transportation professional

Caregiver Support

Because the interdisciplinary team handles all the complicated details of your care, family members and caregivers are relieved from many stressors. Transportation, refilling medications, and coordinating appointments are all done by PACE, significantly reducing caregiver burden. Caregiver training, support groups, and respite care also keep family members supported and educated.

Fast Fact: 97.5 percent of family caregivers would recommend PACE to someone in a similar situation.

What are the PACE eligibility requirements?

Prospective participants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the PACE program:

  • 55+ years of age
  • Live in the designated service area
  • You are certified by the state as meeting the need for nursing home level of care
  • You can safely live in the community when you join

How much does PACE cost?

What you pay depends on your financial situation.

If you are: Cost (out-of-pocket):
Eligible for Medicaid No cost
Eligible for Medicare and Medicaid No cost
Eligible for Medicare only Pay Medicaid portion, plus monthly premium for Medicare Part D
Not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare Self-pay rate
  • 90 percent are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare
  • 9 percent are eligible for Medicaid only
  • 1 percent pay a premium

PACE focuses on you and your care.

The goal of PACE is to provide vulnerable seniors in our communities with the care, medical treatment, and support they need to safely live in their homes for as long as possible. Seniors benefit from personalized, coordinated care, as do their caregivers. With many healthcare services and benefits to the program, it’s a good alternative for many seniors who want to safely age in their homes and community. To learn more, contact us today.

 

Aging at Home: How to Keep Your Loved One Safe

Families choose to keep their aging loved ones at home for various reasons. When we asked the adult children of our Welbe Participants, the most common reasons they give are the desire to care for mom the way she had cared for them and supporting their parent’s wishes.

Inevitably, as your loved one ages, they will need more assistance and care. Making adjustments to the home and enlisting the help of in-home senior care can allow your loved one to safely remain in their home for as long as possible and provide valuable support to you as a caregiver.

 

Creating a Safe Home for Seniors
Whether your loved one is living with you or wants to stay in their own home, creating a safe and comfortable space for your loved one is essential to their physical well-being. When it comes to home safety for seniors, being proactive can make all the difference. Even if your loved one doesn’t need assistance now, planning ahead can prevent injuries and give you peace of mind.

 

Prevent Falls
According to the National Institute on Aging, sixty percent of falls happen at home. A fall can be a setback to your aging loved and possibly result in an unwanted hospital stay. Here are some modifications to consider to prevent falls in the home.

• Install grab bars in the bathroom for stability getting in out of the shower

• Make sure rooms are well lit and promptly replace any burned out bulbs

• Install railing near any indoor or outdoor stairs

• Remove tripping hazards such as rugs, mats, and or pet toys

• Consider installing a walk-in tub or curbless shower

• Stairlifts may be necessary for seniors with decreased mobility who live in a multi-level home

 

Utilize Technology
Technology has evolved at a rapid pace in the last two decades. Seniors and their caregivers can benefit from new, innovative devices and gadgets that can keep elders living safely at home. Some benefits include caregiver notifications, health monitoring, and assistance in emergencies.

• A medical alert system can connect wearers to emergency help and alert caregivers with the push of a button, and even detect falls

• A home security system may be ideal for seniors living on their own and want extra protection from intruders

• Smart speakers can be used for medication and appointment reminders

 

Get Help with Caregiving
Caring for an aging loved in the home is a noble and selfless act. But, taking on this role alone can be unsafe for your loved one and have a negative impact on your health. According to a study done by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 23 percent of caregiving Americans say their health has suffered due to the stress of caregiving. Plus, when caregivers are under constant stress, they can become forgetful, angry, or depressed, which isn’t beneficial to the aging relative they’re caring for. Enlisting professional caregiving help can be a gift to yourself and keep your loved one safe.

WelBeHealth provides support to caregivers and their aging loved ones through the PACE model of care. PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) provides respite care, coordinates medical appointments, manages medications, and much more. Many caregivers have found the support offered by WelBeHealth to positively impact their mental and physical health, with 97 percent reporting they would recommend PACE.

Safely aging at home can be achieved when seniors and their caregivers take proactive steps to create ideal living environments. Caregivers, such as adult children and spouses, can also keep homes safe by utilizing professional caregiving assistance such as WelBeHealth, a PACE provider.  Learn more about WelBeHealth.

PACE Shines a Light During Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the PACE (Program of All inclusive Care for the Elderly) model of care stood out not only in terms of safety and cost, but importantly, in terms of quality of life.  Loretta McNamara, a WelbeHealth participant, tells her story of how PACE shined a light in her life during COVID in a recent interview with the Sacramento Bee.

Common sense and growing research demonstrate that seniors are happier when they feel rooted in their own home and community.  Living at home affords more control over one’s life, imbuing a sense of meaning.  Loretta felt like she had lost control and was trapped under mandatory lockdown at her nursing home during COVID.  Fortunately, her social worker helped her find WelbeHealth.  Now she can live more independently at home with the support of a caring team and her costs are covered by Medicare and MediCal.  “I feel freer,” McNamara says.

Quality of life does not stop with the PACE participant.  During COVID-19, the pressures on adult children and other family caregivers was especially high.  PACE gave the help these family caregivers needed so they could get by under unprecedented circumstances.  In addition to medical care, PACE coordinates appointments, provides transportation, and offers extra support around mental health, nutrition and medication management.  For example, WelbeHealth deployed tablets for telehealth during COVID-19, ensuring access to many services including mental health support while keeping participants and their family caregivers safe as possible.

 

 

 

Wildfire Safety Tips for Seniors

The California wildfires have resulted in some of the worst air quality in the nation.  Seniors can be extremely affected, especially participants in our PACE programs so we’ve created some tips for all seniors:
  1. Remain indoors when at all possible.  Keep windows closed to decrease exposure to smoke.
  2. If you MUST go out wear a mask and limit time outside.
  3. Any worsening cough, congestion or wheezing, please call your PACE center right away.
  4. If you need refills on your respiratory medications including inhalers please call and we are happy to refill if appropriate.

To find out more about PACE services we provide, please click here.

Free photo 1024746 © Frank Farrell – Dreamstime.com