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Home is where the care is

By Bryan Goodland

There comes a time when we all have to make decisions about caring for an elderly loved one. Staying in one’s own home can be an important factor in making the best choice. Whether it’s a grandparent, parent, uncle or even a distant relative, there are a myriad of choices. One of which is allowing your loved one to remain at home with a home care service to help.

There are many variables to consider when choosing the proper care. How healthy and mobile someone is will determine the amount and type of care they might require. This can range from independent living all the way up to 24-hour care if the need is there.

There are a variety of home care providers offering services to the Castle Pines community. Home care is essentially supportive care provided in the home of the client by professional caregivers. They provide assistance with activities and daily living tasks. Typically, non-medical in nature, help is provided with meal preparation, shopping, transportation, bathing, companionship and everything in between.

“The people that we work with are still fairly independent. They might need help with breakfast, showering or errands,” said Jeanne Olson, who works for a local company providing in-home care.

Olson said that for her company, they will go in and help to assess the needs of the client to determine the type of care necessary. “Half of it is the companionship too. Their family can get busy. The same person coming at the same time and day is comforting for the client.” Olson said that sometimes she only comes in for an hour and her company allows for that flexibility.

The national average for home care services runs around $22 per hour or around $23 per hour for home health aides. This type of care if needed for 40 hours each week, will cost upwards of $45,000 per year. Colorado tends to run a little higher than the national average when it comes to elder care and health care in general.

According to the State Demography Office, by 2030 it is estimated that one in four residents of Douglas County will be age 60 or older – approximately 24% of the County’s population.

While that may seem expensive, compare that to $97,000 per year, which is the national average for a nursing home stay. Independent living facilities cost less, at $45,000 per year on average. Paying for elder care is usually an out-of-pocket expense. In other words, the money will come from personal savings, retirement accounts and help from family. Medicare doesn’t pay for home care or long-term care and Medicaid has a great deal of stipulations before going into effect.

Another “cost” that isn’t often factored into caring for a relative is stress and psychological issues, both for the aging loved one as well as the caring family member(s). There is pressure to care for a loved one much like they cared for you and that can add to the stress. As Olson said, “It’s not personal for me, it’s an easier role to play when you’re not tied in emotionally.”

According to the Census Bureau, the Colorado population is around 5.7 million people, with those over age 65 representing 14.2% of the population. The number is expected to double in the next decade. The state is constantly evaluating how to care for this aging population and home care is a viable alternative to standard retirement communities.

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