By Gail Evans
My husband and I are in our eighties and, yes, we’re slowing down. We tire more easily, take longer for daily chores, and complain about aches and pains. Still, we’re getting by. But what if our health changed or we suffered a life-changing illness? We and our concerned family would face a bewildering array of in-home service options, ranging in cost and type, from money management help and minor household repairs to services that meet our nutritional, personal care, medical and mental health needs.
And we’d face money questions! Can we afford private pay care and for how long? If we’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan what would it cover? Are we eligible for Medicaid Home Attendant services, and what is Medicaid spend-down if needed for eligibility? What other personal care providers are available aside from those that charge full cost or are covered by Medicaid?
If you have these same concerns, here’s a quick primer on entry points to in-home support that help seniors live as independently as possible.
Hospital or rehab discharge planning: Hospitals are mandated to do discharge planning for older patients. Should you be hospitalized, your discharge plan would require decisions about your current and future capabilities; caregiver availability; finances; preferences for care; ability to live safely at home and need for in-home services. These decisions are too important to leave solely to professionals. Make sure you are involved in the decision-making process.
NY Connects: With offices in every borough, this New York State program is a free information and referral service for seniors, caregivers, and persons with disabilities who need services. NY Connects specialists can help you define your needs, inform you about all available programs including nursing home and other residential options, and make referrals on your behalf. New York Connects in Manhattan (212-962-2720) is operated by New York Foundation for Senior Citizens.
New York Foundation Case Management and Self-Help Project Pilot Case Management: Geriatric case managers help their clients plan for current and future needs and connect with services. Funded by the New York City Department for the Aging, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens offers free case management services to Village residents (212-962-7817) and Self-Help Project Pilot (212-787-8106) serves Chelsea. Case managers at these agencies will assess your needs (and help you define them), develop a care plan for you, and connect you to government-funded services that meet those needs—some examples: home-delivered meals, non-Medicaid homecare, transportation services, friendly visiting, mental health services, elder abuse services, and senior centers. Your case manager will also evaluate your eligibility for entitlements and benefits, including Medicaid, and provide ongoing guidance as your needs change.
SAGE Case Management (212-741-2247): Located in Chelsea, this program is part of the many supports and services SAGE (Senior Advocacy in a Gay Environment) offers to the older LGBTQ community. It is a good first place to turn to for LGBTQ seniors and their caregivers when in-home supports are needed.
Citymeals/Department for the Aging funded home-delivered meals service. Home-delivered meals service is the entry point to other needed services for many basically home-bound elders who can no longer prepare meals. The city’s Department for the Aging (DFTA) funds community agencies to deliver meals to eligible seniors on weekdays. Citymeals-on-Wheels, through the donations it receives, funds delivery of weekend, holiday and emergency meals to those same clients. To receive home-delivered meals from this great partnership, your need for meals must first be established by a case management agency. Villagers should call NY Foundation Case Management (212-962-2720) to begin the process.
God’s Love We Deliver (212-294-8100; www.glwd.org) provides medically authorized meals to seriously ill people of all ages, including people diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer’s.
There are other avenues that lead to services, of course. But the organizations I’ve named are nearby and ready to assist you!
Please share your comments and stories about aging through Letters to the Editor or with me personally at email@example.com. You can also leave a message for me or Hannah Reimann (apartment-sharing) at 212-414-4883.