By DANIEL O. TULLY
Admiral William H. McRaven, in his inspirational book, â€śMake Your Bed,â€ť wrote about the importance of giving hope to those around us. McRaven wrote, â€śHope that in the very worst times we could rise above the pain, the disappointment and the agony and be strong.â€ť We each have within us the ability to carry on and not only to survive, but also to inspire others.
Hope is the most powerful force in the universe. With hope, you can raise up the downtrodden. With hope, you can ease the pain of unbearable loss. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to make a difference.
We all could use some inspiration and hope from Admiral McRaven right now. One reason to give seniors hope is the desire to stay in oneâ€™s own home is attainable.
One of the greatest fears of older Americans is that they may end up in a nursing home. This not only means a significant loss of personal autonomy, but also a tremendous financial price. Nursing home care costs between $180,000 and $216,000 a year. Studies show that older Americans prefer to stay in their own homes if they possibly can - not a surprise. As a result, most care is provided at home, whether by family or by hired help.
This has many consequences, some of which may be quite unexpected. To begin with, family members shoulder most of the burden of caring for the elderly at home. Being the primary caretaker for someone who requires assistance with activities of daily living, such as walking, eating and toileting, can be a consuming and exhausting task. One important consideration when one family member has the sole responsibility of caring for a parent or other older relative is the question of equity with other family members.
For example, is the child being fairly compensated for her work? If the older person is living with a child, does the elder help pay for the house? If the care is taking place in the elderâ€™s home, should the child have an ownership interest in the house? For parents with only one child, such arrangements may not be so complicated, but if the parent has more than one child, it can be difficult to know whatâ€™s fair.
Connecticut, like most states, is recognizing that home care is more cost-effective than institutional care. In Connecticut, financial or other assistance may be available for those who choose to remain in their homes despite declining capabilities.
Public and private agencies offer a variety of home care services that may be available:
- Home health care, either part-time or 24 hour care
- Personal care and homemaking services, such as shopping, cooking and cleaning
- Services to the home, such as meals programs, transportation and home repair.
Medicare and Medicaid provide some coverage of the medical portion of home health care. (In some cases, 24/7 care can be covered.) Although the coverage is often inadequate, when combined with other resources available to the client and his family, it may be enough to keep a fragile older person at home for a longer period of time.
An experienced elder law attorney can devise creative solutions to your health care puzzle. Knowledge is power and knowing that you can stay at home should give you peace of mind - and hope.
Attorney Daniel O. Tully is a partner in the law firm of Kilbourne & Tully, P.C., members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc., with offices at 120 Laurel St., Bristol (860) 583-1341