Planning to age in place? Home support can help

When asked, most seniors will say that they want to age in place, and according to the Office of the Seniors Advocate most do just that. In B.C., 94% of people aged 65 or older live independently, and at age 85 or older, almost three-quarters (72%) of B.C. seniors still live in their own home. However, illness, disability and cognitive challenges (such as those brought on by dementia) can make staying at home challenging for many seniors.

If living in your own home for as long as possible is important to you, putting a plan in place and speaking to those closest to you about your wishes can be an important aspect of aging in alignment with your goals.

What is home health care?

Home health care is a term used to refer to the services which seniors, and other people needing support, receive to help them live well at home (including independent living homes). Home health care refers to both 1) home care and 2) home support.

Home care is usually used to refer to professional services such as nursing care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, respiratory therapy, nutrition, counselling, palliative care services and social services, while home support often speaks to unregulated services such as bathing, personal care, and meal preparation.

However, these terms are often used interchangeably.

Home health care can either be arranged through the government (publicly-subsidized care) or purchased privately (often referred to as family retained or private pay care).

If a senior is looking to access publicly-subsidized care, how much they will pay depends on their “pay rate.” A person’s pay rate is determined by their income or a fee schedule, depending on the service they need. Depending on the rate, a senior may receive a service at no cost, or they may share the cost with government. More information about accessing government services can be found on Route 65’s FAQ page.

Family retained home support

Seniors who can afford it sometimes prefer to arrange for care privately, because it allows for more flexibility. For example, private pay care may include things like light housekeeping, companionship, or even dog walking, while publicly subsidized care does not include those services.

Sometimes, seniors who access private pay services also find it easier to ensure that they receive the same home health worker on a consistent basis.

In many cases, seniors will choose private home support as an addition to publicly-subsidized care. This can be particularly helpful when a person’s health has begun to decline, when they are experiencing an illness or injury, or when extra help is needed with things not covered through the public pay system.

Depending on the pay rate which senior is assessed at, the cost difference between private pay and publicly subsidized care might not be significant.

Other things to consider

In addition to thinking about things like home support, making adjustments to your home to prevent falls, considering meal services, and making use of technologies, tools and equipment can also help in your efforts to age in place.

Aging at home is not for everyone

Aging in place is not the right option for everyone. A multitude of things should be considered when opting to stay at home for as long as possible, including safety, caregiver well-being and the risk of social isolation. For some seniors assisted living or independent living might be preferable. For more information about your options, click here.

Where can I find a reputable home health care provider?

Navigating the seniors care system can be challenging. That’s why EngAge BC launched Route 65, a free service that helps match seniors and their family members with B.C.’s leading operators of independent living, assisted living, long-term care and home support. Search for home health operators in your community here.

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