Personal Care Homes Offer a Much-Needed Alternative to Traditional Long-Term Care Options

While the Pew Research Center records that the United States population doubled between the years 1950-2010, that population growth has slowed considerably, and seniors are an increasing demographic. By 2025, seniors are expected to make up about 18% of the United States’ population. Additionally, the US Census Bureau reports that currently, an estimated 17% of Americans have a disability that causes their functionality to be limited. Whereas in the past, options were quite limited for people who needed assistance with everyday life tasks, today there are more choices.

What Are Personal Care Homes?

The definition and regulations vary from state to state, but generally, these residences accommodate four or more unrelated persons who live in semi-private or private rooms and maintain as much independence as their physical and mental conditions will allow. Unlike nursing homes, clients may be able to bring some furniture and other personal belongings to make their rooms more personalized and comfortable. Some even allow pets.

The staff assists with the essential tasks of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and going to the bathroom. Meals are often provided by the staff, and clients are relieved of the burden of daily housekeeping tasks. It is also common for the staff to organize recreational activities and outings for residents who can no longer drive. This option is a good choice for elderly and disabled persons who do not require extensive daily medical treatment but would benefit from assistance with basic tasks.

What Are Some Payment Options?

Because people have different financial circumstances, there are a variety of ways to pay the expenses. Keep in mind that costs vary based on factors such as room privacy and amenities. In most cases, Medicare will not cover the cost, but Medicaid is a possibility if certain criteria are met. A study conducted by the Pennsylvania Health Law Project found that 20% of residents are Social Security recipients or have an income roughly equivalent to Social Security benefits. Another possibility is long-term care insurance, a relatively recent addition to the insurance market that allows adults to plan their future and be prepared should old age or a disability limit their abilities.

What Are Some Factors to Consider When Choosing a Personal Care Home?

Cost is an obvious consideration, but aside from budget limitations, there are other factors to help clients make the right choice for them. Be sure to visit the places on the list at different hours of the day and observe the residents, the staff, and the activities to ensure that the client is comfortable with the environment. Learn about the type and frequency of the social and recreational activities each facility offers to be sure that the prospective client’s activity level is a match. Tour the rooms and talk to the staff. Be sure to meet the residents not only to gather information about the facility but also to decide if the potential client will be compatible with the current residents.

In modern times, we are living longer. Personal care homes provide the help that some elderly and disabled persons may need to continue to live a happy, healthy life. They also present an alternative to moving in with or relying on relatives for help. As the United States grows older, it is important that we examine our choices and make informed decisions about the type of assistance we or our relatives may need. Life need not stop because old age or a disability limits a person’s abilities. There are plenty of fresh alternatives to consider.