Vitality - Healthy Aging NewsletterFall 2012

Stay at Home and Get the Help You Need

When Janette Reeson's children grew concerned about her memory loss, they arranged for a caregiver during the day.

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Reeson, a Group Health Cooperative member who lives in Kirkland, was not happy. "I resented having a stranger in my home, because I value my privacy and didn't think I needed help,” she says. "But now I enjoy having her here. She helps clean the house and cook meals, and we take walks, run errands, work puzzles, and have lots of laughs."

Given a choice, most of us would prefer to stay in our homes as we get older. But keeping up with everything from routine household tasks to personal care routines can become challenging. When that happens, it's good to know that help is available.

"Many people are reluctant to ask for help because they've been independent for so many years," says Susan Powell, a licensed social worker who is a manager with Group Health Home Health and Hospice. "Others fear they'll have to leave home if they no longer drive, or have physical or mental limitations. But that's not true. There are many alternatives available."

Alternatives include a wealth of support services that enable people to remain in their homes. Check out the options listed below, which are offered by government or community-based agencies, private companies, or individuals. These types of home services are generally paid for by the recipient, but there are exceptions.

The Group Health Resource Line can provide additional information and resources, such as printed materials, to help you learn about the home services listed below. If you need more assistance, ask your doctor to link you up with a Group Health social worker. One of their goals is finding ways to help you remain at home for as long as possible.

Household Help and Personal Care

Individuals and some companies offer help with housekeeping, including shopping, fixing meals, laundry, changing linens, and cleaning. Some companies limit tasks to housekeeping chores and don't offer personal care or health care services. Home care agencies and private home care aides may offer personal care, such as bathing and dressing, and transportation, in addition to housekeeping tasks. Another option is a live-in companion.

Adult Day Care

Adult day care is an option for individuals who can't be left alone during the day, and only have an in-home caregiver during the evening and overnight. These are usually community-based programs; hours and services vary.

Emergency Alert System

These call systems feature a phone unit and transmitter pendant to summon emergency help any time of the day or night.

Online Services

Order prescriptions online on this website (you must register first) and have them delivered in the mail. Get groceries delivered to your doorstep from local grocery stores, online grocery services, or your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Bank online and deposit checks by scanning them into your computer.

Meals on Wheels

This agency delivers meals to homebound persons who are at least 60 years old. Some areas also offer meal sites, which are usually at senior centers.

Senior Centers

Services vary widely. Some centers offer transportation, on-site meals, and in-home needs assessment.

Transportation

In addition to transportation services available through home care agencies, private home care aides, or senior centers, numerous transit agencies in your area may provide specialized service for older and disabled persons. You may also find it convenient to use a private taxicab service.

Volunteer drivers are available in some counties to take older patients who can't drive to their medical appointments. The Group Health Transportation Assistance Program is one such program. Funded by Senior Services of King County, King County Metro, and the Group Health Foundation, it provides volunteer drivers to residents in King County aged 60 and older who need help getting to scheduled medical center appointments.

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