A Family Law Attorney is a Great Help to Seniors
If an elderly parent, relative, or friend starts to experience difficulties performing his or her activities of daily living, a plethora of community services are available today to help meet those needs. The most efficient way to find out what is available in a particular geographical area is to ask physicians, nurses, social workers, clergy, and friends or acquaintances who may have already had to deal with this same issue. Today, only a minority of people in their senior years live in nursing homes because so many other options are available. In many cases, it is even possible for a senior to remain at home.
Continuing care retirement communities are able to meet the needs of many older adults. These communities, alternately known as assisted living communities, offer both residential and health care services that can effectively meet the needs of many older people. Over 250,000 people now live in such retirement communities and the number of facilities is expected to more than double in the next decade. At one of these facilities a person purchases a contract for care that includes services for housing, meals, amenities, in-home care, and basic health care.
Home health care is another option. Many hospitals and health agencies offer home health care services. A nurse or nurse’s aide will come to the home and provide services such as giving injections, changing bandages, or helping with speech, physical, and occupational therapies. Depending on the specific services required, care is provided for a portion of every day or for several days a week. Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and other programs sometimes pay for some or all of the services rendered.
Adult day care is also available in some communities. In this arrangement, an older person who cannot function independently is cared for in a supervised setting during the day. Transportation to the day care center can usually be arranged and people can attend for part of a day, a day or two each week, or even daily. A midday meal is often provided. This type of program is most appropriate for people who are mildly incapacitated and lack full family availability during the work week.
Respite care programs are available for people who need limited nursing or medical care in a hospital or nursing home setting for a limited period of time. Respite care commonly offers rehabilitation programs such as would be necessary after a stroke or major surgery. Day respite care programs are similar but the services are even more limited. These programs allow one to visit the facility on an as-needed basis for some particular medical procedure, nursing care, or for a specific therapy.
In some communities, foster care homes are available where a senior can live with a family and enjoy all the benefits of a home environment while at the same time receive the social and physical support that he or she needs. To find out whether foster care homes are available in a particular community, a senior center social worker or even a bulletin board in a senior center can be consulted.
Nutrition services are widely available in most communities in the United States. Meals on Wheels delivers hot meals to older people in their homes, sparing them some of the effort involved in shopping and cooking for themselves. The program receives some public funding and thus the cost for meals is very small. Programs similar to Meals on Wheels are offered by volunteer groups, churches, and synagogues especially in larger cities.
In light of the above described community resources, nursing home placement is no longer an inevitability short of major medical conditions such as severe dementia, stroke, general debility, or terminal illness. It is a good idea to consult with a family law attorney who is expert in the field of elder care, long before such placement becomes necessary. These experts can help sort out estate issues, prepare for continuing personal care, and settle legal matters in advance.