The goal of Stay at Home Solutions is to do everything in our power to help you make changes in your home in order for you to live safely and independently for as long as you would like. However, the reality is sometimes “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, meaning that you can make as many changes as you would like to your home, but you may need 24 hour personal care that your family cannot help you with.
None of us like to think that we could end up in that situation. Since we are practical people, we like to share additional information on what else you can do to prepare yourself. Luckily, we found someone who enjoys helping people do the same.
Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor and challenges herself and others to live life to the fullest. Hazel contributed the information below for you to make the best decisions for you!
Preparing for the Costs
of Long-Term Care: Tips for Seniors
It’s important to plan for your long-term care needs even if you don't end up needing it. You can never be sure if an unexpected illness or accident will suddenly change your ability to care for yourself. Though Medicare is valuable to seniors, it provides little coverage for the extensive costs of long-term care. The best thing you can do is prepare for the possibility of long-term care while you’re still able to make important decisions and look into your funding options.
Know What Types of Costs to Expect:
There are three main options for long-term senior care: nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care. According to A Place for Mom, a private room in an assisted living center costs about $90 per day while a private room in a nursing home costs $205 per day for the more intensive levels of care. In-home care costs anywhere from $112 to $192 per day, depending on the amount of time that care is required. If you have family members that can step in and help out, you can cut out some of the costs of in-home care. If you’re looking for the most affordable facility options, consider a care center in a non-urban area rather than one in the city.
Understand What Medicare and Medicaid Cover:
Long-term care services include assistance with daily living tasks such as dressing, cleaning and eating. Although Medicare can help seniors out with their required medical services, it does not cover any other aspects of long-term care. For example, Medicare covers doctor's visits, prescription drugs and hospital stays. It may also pay for a portion of the costs for short-term care in a certified nursing facility following a hospital admission, which can be helpful if you just need to recover from an accidental injury. Other than this, the program does not help with personal or long-term care services.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid can help you cover some of the costs of long-term care, but only if you are low-income with few assets. Medicaid does pay for long-term care services in nursing homes and at home. However, states have different eligibility requirements and differ according to which services they cover.
Consider Funding Long-Term Care Yourself:
Of course, you are welcome to self-fund your long-term care if you have the means. This is a great way to avoid paying expensive premiums for insurance and have the flexibility to put your money exactly where you need it. However, this is difficult to do unless you have substantial savings built up or assets that can be liquidated. Selling your home can be a viable option if both you and your partner are moving out of the house. Before you sell, make sure you're up to date on the current home sale trends in your area. For example, homes in Smithville, Missouri have sold for an average of $215,000 in the last month.
Know About Your Insurance Options:
According to Mariner Wealth Advisors, there are two main types of long-term care insurance. These are the stand-alone policy and life insurance with an accelerated death benefit rider. Stand-alone long-term care insurance covers the expenses that aren’t taken care of by either Medicare or Medicaid. This includes assisted living, nursing homes, and at-home care. However, if you don’t end up needing care, you don’t get any benefits from the insurance. On the other hand, a death benefit rider on a life insurance policy allows you to receive benefits if you end up needing care while any unused benefits will be paid to your beneficiaries. This type of policy is more flexible but tends to have higher premiums.
Many Americans' greatest fear about aging is requiring long-term care and not being able to pay for it. This is no surprise since costs can get as high as $100,000 to $250,000. Although government programs can be valuable to seniors requiring medical services, it's important that you make alternate plans to pay for possible long-term care needs in your future.
Although planning long-term care has its benefits, this can be a difficult topic to discuss between family members. No one enjoys thinking about the possibility of needing long-term care in the future. It’s easy to put this topic on the back burner.
Some tips to make long-term care planning easier include:
Reflecting on what you want if you needed long-term care
Identifying family and social supports
Organizing information you gather to help you make sense of everything
In my experience, families who do talk about long-term care planning do not appear as stressed or frantic when their loved one needs it. They know what to do, where to go, and how it’s being funded. Peace of mind comes with planning your long-term care needs. It’s a lot of work, but consider the process as a gift to you and your family!
I accidentally locked myself out of my own website! So while I was missing last week, here is something I wanted to share:
Seniors Flourish graciously posted an article I wrote about how occupational therapists can help caregivers and patients make changes in the home to keep patients safe and independent during daily activities! Click here to read it! You don’t have to be an occupational therapist to benefit from it!
Also, feel free to peruse the rest of the Seniors Flourish website! It has excellent resources on how occupational therapists can provide evidence-based interventions to help their clients. You never know, you could learn a thing or two!
Stay tuned to check out the blog post this Tuesday at noon! I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with finances!
When I was in school for occupational therapy, my instructors encouraged us to use strategies that avoided bringing unwanted attention to our client. We were tasked with helping our clients do the things they needed to do with items that did not make them stick out in the crowd.
For instance, if you had a kid who needs deep pressure to pay attention in class, put some leg warmers or athletic compression garments on!
Can’t read the menu? Take a picture of it and enlarge the image!
If you had a client who talked to voices in their head, put a bluetooth headphone on their ear!
Older adult can’t drive anymore? Show them how to use Uber on their smartphone!
That’s our bread and butter! Occupational therapists love to find these easy, everyday solutions so clients can live their lives to the fullest!
And guess what recently released that follows along the easy, everyday solutions theme of this article? (Trumpet fanfare plays)
The Apple Watch Series 4!
What does it do? Well, this new-fangled watch can accurately read your heart for one thing! It has an electrocardiogram (EKG) that the Food and Drug Administration approved. There are electrodes inside of the ceramic backing. People can take their EKG at any time and share it with your doctor! The Series 4 measures your heart rate and can tell if you have irregular rhythm. It also sends you a notification when your heart rate is too low, which means there may not be enough blood pumping through your body.
Fear of falls? Not to worry! The Apple watch detects falls by noting wrist trajectory and impact acceleration. Think of the potential! It can even contact emergency services for you in case of medical emergency if you do not move in one minute.
Other features include a 30% larger watch face than the other Apple watches. This makes it easier to read the time, text messages, and caller ID. I know I appreciate not struggling to read tiny fonts!
Good news for people with difficulty hearing, the new watch speakers are 50% louder. This is similar to other talking devices for people who have low vision.
The Series 4 is slimmer and lighter, which makes it more “manageable” to wear according to some reports. For me personally, I enjoy wearing a slimmer watch because I tend to catch on doorways or fabrics when I’m not paying attention while moving around!
I’m not going to lie. I am very excited by the possibilities this watch presents!
The very first thing I thought of was how many clients I have worked with who refuse to wear medical alert devices because they label them as a fall risk.
Case in point: my grandmother. She chose to wear her medical alert device (company name extracted) as a necklace. Granny thought if she wore it as a necklace, it would not be in her way while cooking and washing dishes. However, Granny never wore the medical alert device at all because it was ugly.
Me: “Where’s your medical alert device?”
Granny: “Oh. . . in my room.”
Me: “It’s supposed to be around your neck.”
Granny: “. . . I forgot.”
Then we would have a stare down with each other, which resulted in me retrieving the medical alert device from her room and placing it on her.
Not only did Granny not like the device because it was unattractive. It labeled her to other people as a fall risk. She felt like the medical alert device gave off a negative connotation of being old, fragile, feeble, incapable, decrepit, etc. Please insert whatever negative description you can think of.
And I felt bad for encouraging Granny to wear the medical alert device! At the same time, I wanted her to have assistance as quickly as possible in case she fell and became injured.
So what’s a granddaughter or other family member to do?
The answer is look out for ways to give Granny her dignity back through devices like this Apple watch.
People could wear this fashionable watch and no one would realize that the watch could help them in case of a fall or heart problem. You would merely glance at Granny and think, “Dang, what a cool lady!” You would probably go up and compliment Granny for wearing such a fancy watch.
Technology like the Apple watch gives family members and caregivers peace of mind. I see this tool as another way in which to help people stay at home as long as they like. The Apple watch is a form of support to allow people to confidently live independently in their community.
The only drawback I see is the price. This watch is not affordable to a lot of people who could truly benefit from it. It costs $399 to start and up to $499 for the cellular version.
Whoa, that’s a lot of dough for someone living on a fixed income.
But you have to consider all of the Apple Watch features compared to other medical alert devices. Besides after you purchase it, you are not paying a subscription fee like you would for a medical alert device. On average, subscription fees are around $20 a month, which comes to $240 a year.
You really need to weigh all of the pros and cons for this high tech gadget.
At the end of the day, Granny or any other adult can use this Apple watch to monitor health and use it to communicate needs to family and emergency personnel. It’s great that technology is becoming more affordable in that we all could potentially own a personal EKG on our wrists. The Apple watch is leading towards the same path as telehealth. Doctors are already able to monitor their patient’s weight and blood anti-coagulation levels from home. For people who struggle to go out for doctor’s visits, the option to send their health status by simply wearing a watch sounds incredibly appealing!
What do you think? Are you going to buy this watch for you or a loved one? Comment down below!
Breaking a bone in your body is one of the worst experiences you can have in your lifetime. Trust me. I know this experience firsthand!
When I was eight-years-old, I climbed the wobbly, rickety chain link fence in the backyard at home and toppled over to fall to the ground breaking my left elbow. I remember passing out from the pain after seeing my mother’s scared facial expression.
At the hospital, I was given pain medication that completely knocked me out. The radiology tech had to keep prodding me to stay awake while taking x-rays of my arm. Eventually, I had surgery to realign my bones with two pins.
I remember the whole experience vividly! I was small and nimble enough to not need any home modifications. BUT I needed help with getting dressed, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, and brushing my hair. The pain from my arm would wake me up sometimes at night. I had to sleep lying on my back with my arm propped up on pillows.
I HATE sleeping on my back!
Luckily, I am right handed and had all the benefits of youth while waiting for my arm to heal! I was able to easily manipulate brushing my teeth, drawing, feeding, playing card games, and anything else you can think of with my right hand. Recovery took no time at all for me as a child. As soon as I was able to use my left arm, I quickly returned to dance lessons and playing piano.
I could never forget how my injury impacted my life in such a profound way. My mother was wary and extra protective while my arm healed. She made sure my sisters and cousins were careful when they played around me. Mom did not want me to be hurt again!
Looking back, I not only see the physical impacts a broken arm had on my life. I also see how I changed the way I took care of myself and how my family members and friends treated me.
As an eight-year-old, I was very independent in taking care of myself prior to the injury, especially as the oldest of four children. When I broke my arm, it felt like going in reverse needing even more help from my mother. She even tied my shoes again. I saw myself as an independent person changing into an interdependent person.
That’s hard even for an eight-year-old child.
I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was to resume my independence again after my arm fully recovered. But not everyone can experience this type of relief.
As an adult, injuries like broken bones can be more damaging and long lasting than what children experience. This is where it gets deep, people!
Adults have decades of being independent in taking care of themselves and others. A broken bone drastically changes how they view themselves. Accepting help can sometimes be seen in the same vein as becoming older or aging.
Of course, as occupational therapists, it’s easy for us to reassure adults with injuries that they are not old people (there’s nothing wrong with that anyway!). We educate them on all of the ways they can still do what they need and want to do. However, we do need to remind ourselves that when people break a bone, they are grieving the loss (temporary or permanent) of their independence and the way they used to do daily activities. Even little eight-year-old me grieved over not being able to play tag and ride my bike for a couple of months.
Whoa. Grief? Yes. Here’s an example!
Dave broke his tibia stepping off a sidewalk into the street while heading to a coffee shop. He had surgery and needed to use a walker to help balance while hopping on one leg to get around. He quickly realized he needed a lot of help with getting in and out of his house, bed, shower, and going up and down the stairs. Dave was frustrated he could not move easily around his house anymore.
He thought, “Dang, I never thought I would need to do a pistola squat to get on and off the toilet! I don’t want my wife to help me with this every day!”
Dave even needed help picking up his dog’s bowls to put water and food in them! He felt like he had to rely on his wife to do everything. Dave started to feel depressed while his leg was healing because he wanted to do more by himself. Dave loved his wife, but he didn’t want to be soooo intimate with her while toileting and bathing.
He missed his ability to move around and take care of himself on his own time. Dave wondered if he will be able to continue living in his current house as it was. “What if I could never walk again? What will I do?”
In this situation, it’s easy to see why Dave would grieve the loss of his privacy, caring for himself, and moving around. He feels frustrated on how much effort he has to put in to simply move around the house. These emotions are very normal for any person. Have you every had this type of experience? Can you relate to Dave?
There are some things we cannot control whatsoever, like accidents. But we certainly can control our environment! Since we know breaking bones is such a challenging physical and emotional time, I am happy to say there are ways we can prevent lessen some of the pain and maintain our dignity by making changes in the home.
Yes, as a kid, I easily navigated my environment with a broken arm. However, poor adult Dave struggled to move around in and outside of his house with a broken leg. Let me tell you three things he could do to his house to make recovery better:
1) Create one entrance at home with ZERO steps. This will make it easier to use a walker to hop on one leg in and out of the house. Dave will be able to escape the home in case of emergency, see the doctor, go to outpatient therapy, spend time with friends at the ball game, etc. Dave can just enjoy not struggling to get in and out of his own house! He will not feel like a trapped prisoner!
2) Build a bathroom on the main floor of the house. Preferably this will be a full bathroom, but a half bathroom will certainly suffice! Put blocking in the walls in order to install grab bars later if needed. The blocking will allow you to install grab bars at any height! How neat! Grab bars could help Dave get on and off the toilet by himself, but there are a lot more options I can talk about with Dave and his wife.
3) Install a barrier free shower. Dave can easily use this shower with or without a broken leg! A barrier free shower lets you walk in and out without stepping over anything! This type of shower is perfect for all ages and abilities from wheelchair users to people who walk on two legs. Learn more by clicking here or here!
If you can relate to Dave, you may want to consider planning on making changes to your current home. Life is unpredictable, but if you do it before you need it then you are setting yourself up to maintain your independence and dignity in your own home. Please comment below if you or someone you know has had Dave’s experience of grieving the loss of taking care of yourself.
Hello! I decided to take the week off on a traditional blog post this Tuesday due to the holiday. But fear not! Next week, you will have more scintillating home modification information on your electronic device!
I wanted to share some quick information with you!
RAFFLE WINNER! The widely anticipated Stay at Home Solutions Raffle winner was selected yesterday on my Facebook Live. The lucky winner of a FREE home evaluation by yours truly is. . . . ROCHELLE L.!
Please give it up to Rochelle for winning the contest! Please check on the Stay at Home Solutions Facebook page or Instagram for more future raffles or contests!
The second announcement is we will be at the Parkville, MO YMCA on Friday, September 21st at the Fall Prevention Health Fair from 9 AM to noon. Come up and see us! Learn about how to prevent falls at home!
I hope you had a lovely weekend and remember to start making your home safer now to maintain your independence! Do it before you need it!
(FYI: This post is an overview about my experience at the Midwest Ability Summit this last Saturday. BUT if you want to skip down to the bottom to read my exciting announcement, I wouldn’t blame you!)
Oh my! This past Saturday was fantastic! I had a booth at the Midwest Ability Summit at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, KS. This event is an ability expo that showcases various resources in the Kansas City metro for people with disabilities, their family members, caregivers, and health care professionals. There were educational classes, non-profit organizations, service providers, and tons more from law groups to home health companies!
Check out midwestabilitysummit.org to see all of the exhibitors from this year! Also, click here to learn more about the purpose of Stay at Home Solutions!
Personally, I felt so happy for my booth to sit right next to the KSDS Assistance Dogs because I got to sneak over and pet the doggies in training! For you animal lovers, there were also adorable therapy mini ponies at the summit. Never discount the health benefits of our four-legged friends!
There were many other sights to take in at this event. I enjoyed watching the tennis demonstration area directly across from my booth. The happy expressions on the children and adults lobbying tennis balls to each other felt palpable! In fact, I tossed a couple of stray balls back into action. In addition to a sports viewing, I saw children and adults test recumbent bikes and power wheelchairs and standing frames around the convention center floor with huge grins. Everybody was having fun!
To add to the festivities, my booth offered candy amid other freebies like pens, sticky pads, and chapstick. I heard many parents bemoan the fact that the summit was like Halloween because of the vast amounts of candy within reach for the children! My booth neighbors came and grabbed candy for a quick snack every once in a while in between people. Visitors hauled tote bags full of goodies and information around the venue while talking to exhibitors.
The summit impressed me with the consideration of their guests! For instance, they provided a quiet/ sensory friendly area for people who needed a break from the stimulating sights and sounds. The displays were fantastic too! My friend and frequent project collaborator, David Groves of Accessible RehabWorks, set up a barrier free shower, patio, and wooden ramp. It looked amazing and added to the atmosphere of this event.
I was also delighted to see organizations represented at the summit that contribute excellent services to the community and I deeply support, like Minds Matter!
I felt so pleased to have many people come visit at my booth! I was happy to answer questions about my business and home modifications. Here are some of the most frequent ones:
Question: “How far out do you visit people?”
Answer: I see everyone in the Kansas City area in about a 50 mile radius. I am willing to Skype or do some other type of video communication with people who live outside of the area. For people who live outside Kansas City, I offered to help find home modification occupational therapists for people, like in Texas and Colorado.
Question: “Do you read blueprints?”
Answer: Yes, I do! I am happy to consult for people planning on building houses in order for them to live safely and independently.
Question: “I live in an apartment/townhouse. Can you help me?”
Answer: Absolutely yes! The Fair Housing Act ensures landlords allow reasonable accommodations be made for their residents. I recommend home modifications that will benefit you and make your landlord happy.
Question: “Do you see people of all ages?”
Answer: Yes, I am happy to see everybody! Everyone deserves to live in their home safely and independently without worry of moving to a facility!
Question: “Do you take insurance?”
Answer: I take Missouri Medicare and am able to bill all of the managed care insurance companies for Medicare beneficiaries like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Coventry, etc.
Question: “Are you an occupational therapist?”
Answer: Why yes I am!
There were visitors who asked specific questions about their home. For example, I helped a lady problem solve how to prevent water from spreading all over her bathroom floor from her barrier free shower. Another couple discussed options for downsizing their current home to make sure they could age in place in the community as opposed to going to a facility. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to people and learning about their needs and concerns for staying at home.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Okay, now are you ready for my EXCITING announcement!
I have a RAFFLE for a FREE home evaluation! This is for all ages! If you win, I will come to your home and give you options on what you can do to live safely and independently! There are no prerequisites for a home evaluation (like a history of falls or disability). Every single person on the planet benefits from a professional like me to come give you ideas!
How do you enter? Like my Facebook page (@stayathomesolutionskc) by August 30th at 9 PM to enter the raffle! If you have already liked my Facebook page, please follow me on Instagram (@stayathomesolutions) or Pinterest (Stay at Home Solutions) to enter the raffle! Remember, I also post videos on YouTube at Stay at Home Solutions.
If you win the free home evaluation and you would like to gift it to a friend or family member, you sure can!
The winner will be announced this Friday, August 31st at noon on Facebook! Tune in to see who wins this amazing prize! Contests like these make me feel so excited!
I promise to shoot the Facebook video in landscape this time!
Lastly, I just wanted to say how honored I am to be included in the Midwest Ability Summit. The organizers are lovely, big-hearted people to create a one-stop shop for people of all different conditions and backgrounds. The summit was all inclusive and fun for attendees! I look forward to being a part of this event next year!
I will admit to you all today that I sometimes struggle to open the washing machine or dryer door. There are instances where I do not grip the door handle well enough and my hand slips off! Occasionally, I attempt to open the door and need to tug on it two to three times before it opens! When I experience this I tend to think, "Oh my gosh, why is this so hard?"
Then my occupational therapy brain starts to kick in and think: "How can I solve this? How can I make it easier to open the washer or dryer door?"
Well my friends, let me share some ideas with you today! Let's go through and think about your current situation!
Please go and look at your washer and dryer right now. I will patiently wait for you! (Side note: Hopefully your washer and dryer are on the main level of your house. If not, put that in your three to five year home modification plan! A washer and dryer on the main level of the house helps people age in place in their home!)
Ok, did you look? I am going to ask the following questions:
What type of washer and dryer do you have? Are they front or top loaders?
Are they a stackable washer and dryer?
What brand do you have?
Which direction does the door open and shut on the washer and dryer?
Where are the control buttons on the washer and dryer? On the front of the machine? Towards the back on a panel?
Where is it located in the house?
The answers to these questions tell me a lot about how you are moving to do laundry. It leads me to other questions about you personally like:
What is your dominant hand? Right or left?
What is your grip strength?
Are you sitting or standing at the machine when moving loads?
Are you sitting or standing while folding clothes?
How far can you reach while sitting or standing?
Are you using equipment, like a walker or reacher?
When you do laundry, do you wear out after a short time or can you do everything without rest breaks?
Do you lose your balance when reaching for clothes inside the machine?