Just because a senior is having more problems at home does not mean it’s time to recommend a move elsewhere. Such a circumstance could, however, signal the need for more help at home.The first step in determining if care is warranted is to take a senior’s needs and desires into account. Sometimes these are difficult conversations to have with an older adult who is convinced he or she does not need help. The best way for a family caregiver to start these conversations is to acknowledge the senior’s desire to stay at home:”You know, Mom, I want you to stay at home, too, however that might be more difficult if you fall or get sick. A little extra help could keep you safe and independent at home for a longer time.”Non-medical home health care in Albuquerque might be ideal for an older adult who is recovering from an illness or a surgery, such as a knee replacement, and does not need medical assistance, but rather help around the home with ADLs and IADLs. The need can be just as much for emotional and mental support, as well as physical assistance. A senior who loses a spouse can become depressed and lonely to the point her own health suffers. Or a widower’s increasing forgetfulness can put him at risk of forgetting to pay the bills, or worse, to take his medications.Enhancing LivesThe companionship component of a professional caregiver’s job can be just as vital as the physical assistance a professional will provide. Seniors need conversation and one-on-one contact to keep their minds alert. They can thrive with someone to participate in their favorite activities such as gardening, baking or woodworking, or someone to go to the grocery store or attend a concert.Many seniors need help to get their day started with assistance showering, preparing breakfast and taking their medications. Likewise, help before bedtime, or even overnight, can be an important safety net for seniors at home who often are more apprehensive at nighttime. A reputable non-medical caregiving company will provide caregivers who can meet all of those needs.The Cost of Non-Medical In-Home CareThe national average hourly rate for homemaker/companions was $19 in 2009, according to the 2009 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs. While more and more long-term care insurance companies are covering this option, it is still primarily paid for by the family or the seniors themselves.While that price tag might sound expensive, consider that most care of this kind is provided for just a few hours a week. In fact, a Home Instead Senior Care study indicates that 22 percent of their clients employ caregiver services four hours or less per week and 20 percent employ them between four and eight hours per week.There’s also the issue of a senior’s preferences. If a parent or loved one is happiest at home, the cost of additional care may very well be worth it.
Life is full of misfortunes, accidents, and unpredictable, life changing events; which is why, we as the American people, are granted health care. However, to many, health care doesn’t seem to be fulfilling its purpose of caring and providing. If health care is supposed to support us, and be something each one of us has a right to, why is it the cause of 1.5 million bankruptcies each year, and unaffordable to half of the American people? And why is the middle class of America, the largest class, the ones struggling to pay off charges with insurance? In addition, where exactly are the outrageous charges coming from on the medical bills? And most importantly, how did this health care crisis happen to America, of all countries? These are just a few of the questions the American people are left to cope with.What else is left to do when accidents strike without warning and a middle class family of four is left to pay off over $110,000 in medical bills? File bankruptcy – according to the U.S. Times, this seems to be the answer for most families. Take the Jackson family from Texas for example: while exiting a school bus, the Jackson’s daughter was struck by a car, leaving the family with an outrageous medical bill of $90,000. Within a few years the mother of the Jackson family needed both knees replaced at a price of $20,000. And most recently, the daughter got into another accident while driving. Before even receiving the charges, the family filed for bankruptcy.Half of America doesn’t even have health insurance, and a lot of the families that do, are left helpless when bombarded with medical bills – especially the middle class families, like the Jackson’s. So how does this happen? How are those with health insurance still charged thousands? The truth lies behind the instability and inconsistency of the health care system. To elaborate, imagine a man without insurance comes into the emergency room with a broken hip to undergo surgery. He is charged $35,000. Since the man does not have insurance, his procedure will inevitably cost the hospital more money.So where do they get this extra money? Well, say a second man comes into the same emergency room with a broken hip; however, this man has insurance. Unfortunately, since the man before him cost the hospital more money because he didn’t have insurance, the hospital will add on higher charges on the medical bill to the man with insurance to help pay off the extra expenses incurred from the previous patient. So if health care doesn’t protect you from high medical costs, what does it do? Apparently, if it doesn’t keep you healthy, it’ll at least keep you alive: according to the Urban Institute, over 27,000 deaths occur every year that are actually medically avoidable. Sadly, those 27,000 happened to have no health care. What ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?Along with the overwhelming medical bills, is the speculation of what, precisely, are the charges for? How is a ¾ mile ambulance ride equivalent to $1,800? Of course the first expense that would come to mind would be the medical aid given during the ride. But what happens when nothing is done – no medication, no tests, no nothing – and you’re still being charged thousands? A similar situation arose with a couple in Pennsylvania. When the couple found themselves in a horrific car accident, they were airlifted via helicopter to the nearest hospital – the ride was no longer than ten minutes long. The bill for the ride amounted to $18,000. However, when asked what exactly was done in the helicopter to medically aid the couple, the husband declared “nothing.” If no medical aid is given, other than the transportation, how do these charges add up? After doing a little research on different helicopter expenses, I found something that grabbed my attention: a ninety minute helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, and Las Vegas strip costs $248 per adult, according to allvegastours.com. So, for a helicopter ride that is an roughly eighty minutes less, using basically the same amount of fuel per mile, what is the $17,504 difference of charges routing from if no medication or medical procedures are used along the way? Unfortunately, even the couple who is held responsibly for these charges hasn’t gotten the answer either.Finally, the last, but most important question is how did a problem like this happen to America? A recent study done by the Common Wealth Fund, shows that out of seven predominately wealthy, stable countries, the American people reported as being the unhappiest with their current health care system. One statistic for instance, was that 25% of American’s will actually forgo a doctor’s appointment because they believe the pricey costs from the visit and the prescriptions could be better spent on other immediate financial needs – such as paying off bills – rather than their own personal health. And yes, that 25% is a big number, considering all the other countries surveyed didn’t even make it into the double digit percentile.How does something like this happen to a country that never settles for mediocrity? Take for example our military. When we’re threatened or weak, we spend tons of money to invest in more high quality weapons and protection. Schooling is another prime example – we have the top universities in the world, and we invest as much money as necessary into constantly improving them. If America is a country based on freedom, and equal rights for each individual, why haven’t we given those people we go to extreme lengths to protect, serve, and educate, their right to an available, affordable, healthy life?
I’m going to jump into the health care reform topic, just for a brief minute. Frankly, here’s my stand on this issue. While I’m ALL FOR everyone having the availability of health care, I can’t say that I agree at all with the way things have recently been done. (Another subject-for another article!)It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that anytime the federal government takes charge of anything, it becomes a HUGE bureaucratic and EXPENSIVE mess! Can we at least agree on that much?As a tax professional for many years, I have often said that if the IRS would begin by doing one simple thing, it would be a nice step in the right direction. I bet you’re wondering what I’m talking about. I’ll explain.As you may or may not know, medical expenses are typically a deductible expense on your tax return. In order for this to be deductible though, you must be one of those taxpayer’s that itemizes deductions on Sch A. Furthermore, your medical expenses (this includes doctor’s visits, trips to the dentist & eye doctor, prescription drugs, co-pays, etc) are only deductible on your tax return once you hit that magic number (it’s different for everyone)~That is, 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). Did I lose some of you here?Let me illustrate this for you. Let’s say that you have an AGI of $50K. Simple multiplication: $50,000 x 7.5% = $3750. Any medical expenses that you have that are above and beyond $3750 become a tax deduction on your tax return~but, only if you can itemize. If you can’t itemize, then you don’t have the benefit of this deduction. Nice, huh?So, back to my original thought from many years ago. If the IRS would do away with this 7.5% floor, and allow EVERYONE (whether you can itemize or not) to take a deduction for legitimate medical expenses, that would at least be a step in the right direction. Doesn’t this just make sense? Well, doesn’t it?Well, hold on to your hat. That 7.5% floor is scheduled to become a 10% floor in the near future. Moving in the wrong direction here… Hey, it’s just my opinion!