Live-In Senior Care
Live-in care is for seniors who need around-the-clock assistance from a caregiver. Assistance is generally non-medical and includes such tasks as medication management, shopping, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADL).
Though caregivers sleep at the senior's residence, they generally aren't required for assistance at night. Caregivers do not actually move in to the client's home. But they could spend periods of from 8 hours to several days at a time at the residence.
Often, caregivers work in rotating shifts of 12 hours so the client sees the same two people every day. The client provides the caregiver food and a place to sleep.
Who Requires Live-In Care?
In general anyone who:
- Is recovering from a sickness or illness
- Has limited mobility
- Is isolated and withdrawn from others
- Is feeling overwhelmed taking care of themselves
- Lives far away from the family or friends who could lend a hand
- Is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia
Live-In Care Services
The kinds of services provided will depend on the agency and the individual caregiver. In general, expect the following:
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- Medication management
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Running errands
- Meal preparation and clean up
- Alzheimer's and dementia care
- Assistance with pets
- Assistance with appointments
- Playing games
- Exercising—going on walks, to the gym, etc.
- Letter writing
- Bill paying
Evaluating Needs for Live-In Care
Whether you are evaluating your own needs for live-in care or the needs of a loved one, start out by writing down what needs to be provided. What does a typical day look like from waking up to going to climbing into bed?
Think about the following:
Hours- How many hours a day is care needed? When is care most intensively needed? Will they require help in the middle of the night with going to the bathroom?
Dietary- Are there special cooking requirements? Does the senior have allergies? How will groceries be purchased?
Transportation- Does the client need transportation to doctor's appointments, social events or other activities? Can the caregiver drive the client's car? Will they be insured for this? Can the caregiver escort the client on public transportation such as a bus or taxi?
Medication Management- How does the senior currently manage their medication? Are they being taken correctly? What side effects are there to the medications? How often are they being refilled?
Memory Loss- Is there memory loss? Does your loved one need to be tested? Knowing this will help the agency assign the properly trained caregiver. To learn more about memory loss, read “Causes of Alzheimer's.”
Other Skills-Are there other requirements such as blood sugar testing, taking blood pressure, etc?
Choosing a Live-In Care Agency
Selecting the right care provider for you or your loved one is important. So how do you know which agency to pick?
Think of it like a job interview, and you are the employer. You want just the right fit for your team. Here are some areas to consider in the hiring process.
- If working with an agency, find out exactly what is covered. Read their contract carefully. What fees are included and what services cost extra? How is a contract terminated by either party? How much notice is required?
- Is the agency Medicare certified? This means they've followed a set of stringent federal guidelines to be able to provide care. They've also been inspected.
- Interview several candidates before hiring. Meet the caregiver in a public place first. If it works out, invite them to your home or your loved one's home. Ask that person about their experiences and qualifications. Give them worst-case scenarios about what they can expect. Don't sugarcoat anything. It's better to have all expectations and potential trouble areas out in the open. Ask if they've ever worked with someone with similar needs. Ask open-ended questions. Give them a specific scenario—ask them how they would respond.
- Check references. Be careful and diligent when talking to references. Would the reference use the caregiver again?
- Do background checks on your top candidates. Usually, an agency will provide this service. Do they provide a criminal background check? Credit check? Driving record? Legal working status?
Paying For Live-In Care
Live-in care is a far less costly alternative to assisted living and nursing home facilities. However, the costs can still add up. Expect to pay between $15 and $25 an hour for live-in care.
How will I pay for this?
Medicare does not pay for live-in care. Many seniors pay for this care with private funds or long-term care insurance. Some others options:
Medicaid collaborates with each state to provide benefits for low-income seniors. This is called the Medicaid Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) waiver program; It can supplement coverage for non-medical home-based care. Check your state's Medicaid services department for details.
States have programs for senior who do not qualify for Medicaid.
Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to find out what programs are available in your area.
Live-in care for seniors allows your loved one to remain in their homes and to be as independent as possible. It also adds to their quality of life because the caregivers are there around-the-clock. If you'd like to compare live-in care with other senior living options, read “Senior Retirement Lifestyles.”
To find live-in senior care in your neighborhood, enter your desired location into the search bar and then click on the "Home Care" tab to see local service that provide senior home care, companion care, and live-in senior care.
Updated: Sep 12, 2011