August 6, 2021
Reading Time 8 min.

At Home Care for The Elderly: How to Care for Low-Income Seniors

Introduction

More families are opting for at-home care for the elderly in recent times. 

But due to the pandemic and other financial factors, life has been harder for all. 

Then there's the harsh reality that most seniors are financially unstable and living in low-income households. 

So today, I'm giving you tips on how to make at-home care for the elderly much easier on the pockets.

What is considered low-income for seniors? 

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “low-income families are defined as families whose incomes do not exceed 80% of the median family income for the area.”

On average, an income of $25,760 per year per single person is considered part of low-income seniors.

Recent studies also show that over 15 million Americans aged 65+ are living at or below the federal poverty line (FPL). 

At-home care for the elderly is not an easy thing. Most caregivers who are also family members know this so well. 

Read more about the sandwich generation and their challenges here. 

at-home care for the elderly

Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It requires a lot of patience, energy and empathy. But most of all, taking care of seniors can be costly too. 

In an ideal world, the elderly should have enough funds to sustain themselves throughout their retirement. 

But due to inflation and other factors, this is nearly impossible. 

Research shows that 23% of family members acting as caregivers report financial difficulties when caring for their elderly. 

Senior care can mean shouldering medical costs, mobility equipment and medications.

And for most, this would mean splitting their income between two households. 

Caring for the elderly requires attention, especially for those who suffer from medical conditions. 

Because of this, caregivers may be forced to decline new financial and career opportunities. Most even give up their jobs altogether. 

Costs also add up when your loved one has existing debt that needs to be paid for. These out-of-pocket expenses can result in the reduction of a caregiver’s financial resources.

Some may say it’s just money. But in reality, financial problems affect all of the relationships inside the family unit. 

Caregivers can feel isolated and insignificant due to the lack of finances. They may also feel burdened because of a lack of support. 

One of the common concerns caregivers have is the contributions they get from other family members. 

These financial talks also tend to spark conflicts with other family members, especially siblings. 

Often, the main caregiver is expected to provide for everything. And when they ask for help, minimal assistance is provided. 

Not to mention the physical, mental, and emotional strain on the elderly. 

Seeing family members in disagreement causes additional stress to seniors. Unfortunately, such stressors can manifest into more illnesses and medical issues. 

The great thing is, there are government units, NGOs, and other private organizations that help low-income families manage at-home care for the elderly. 

These services range from subsidized services to free items. 

All you need to know is where to look. 

What programs are available for low-income seniors?

According to Jemma Financial, 53% of caregivers felt they had little or no choice to take on the responsibility of caregiving. 

At-home care for the elderly can be easy even for low-income households

Approximately 3 out of 10 caregivers have stopped depositing money into their savings accounts, 25% have taken on more debt, and 1 in 5 reported having unpaid or late bills.

Despite all the available information online, sometimes it’s still difficult to know where to start. 

Agencies such as Area Agency on Aging is a great resource to learn and find the help you need. 

What’s great about AAA is that they offer varied solutions for different living situations. 

There are programs that can help the elderly move out of their nursing homes to better living options. 

There’s also the MI Choice waiver program designed to help seniors receive the care they need in their homes or other community settings.

There are also other channels that can help take care of seniors while you earn a living. 

From adult care, assisted living, or home care, you can find and get the help you need. 

Check here to find out more about these options. 

Financial Assistance

Seniors aged 65-67 can also take advantage of disability insurance through SSDI.

It’s an entitlement program offering benefits to disabled workers younger than the retirement age. 

The benefits received will be based on the elderly’s work history and tax contributions. Once awarded this, the beneficiary will automatically qualify for Medicare after a two-year waiting period.  

On the other hand, SSI offers financial assistance to the elderly based on strict financial limitations. Getting this benefit automatically qualifies your loved one for Medicaid. 

The elderly can also receive SSI and their retirement benefits simultaneously. 

Here are some of the age-related health conditions approved by these agencies: 

  • Arthritis 
  • Diabetes 
  • Hearing impairment 
  • Dementia 
  • Alzheimer’s disease 

To see a complete list of illnesses and health conditions, check here. 

Medical Assistance

At-home care for elderly with low-income homes can also benefit from discounted medical services

This part is essential for senior care in homes, especially if you’re a new caregiver. 

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older. It covers different services including hospital insurance, medical insurance and prescription drug coverage. 

You can choose from two cost options. 

Original Medicare lets you pay for services as you get them. 

Here you pay a deductible amount per year. There’s also coinsurance, where you pay 20% of the service cost according to Medicare approval. 

This plan lets you add a separate drug plan if you want it as an add-on service.  

Another option is through Medicare Advantage. This plan offers extra benefits like vision, hearing, and dental services.

MA may offer additional benefits, but reduces the most needed benefits such as hospital reimbursement and rehab reimbursement. This leads to faster discharge home due to ending payment for these services sooner in most cases than traditional medicare.

Be careful of programs offering additional benefits to your medicare. I tell my loved ones that traditional medicare is their best option if they qualify.

Medicaid is another agency that can help lower medical costs. It’s also a great option for long term care services coverage for low-income families.  

While Medicare is managed by the federal government, Medicaid is managed by the states. Its benefits also depend on one’s income. 

Beneficiaries are entitled based on two guarantees. All Americans that meet eligibility requirements are guaranteed coverage. And states are guaranteed matching dollars without capping for eligible enrollees. 

Learn more about the benefits of Medicaid here. 

Food and Nutrition Assistance

There is also food and nutrition assistance available for low-income families. 

To avail of SNAP benefits, you need to apply in the state where you currently live and meet certain requirements. A net monthly income of $1,064 for one person is what you need to qualify.

There are also other organizations that can provide nutritious meals especially for caregivers providing at-home care for the elderly.

These services range from access to locally grown fruits and vegetables, emergency food assistance, access to cooked food and even meal delivery services.

Some of these organizations are the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, Meals on Wheels, Commodity Supplemental Food Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program

Housing Assistance

Housing assistance for low-income seniors is also available. Start with federal aid and local housing agencies to find affordable housing.

If you're looking for affordable public rentals, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Most of the time, the rent will be 30% of your monthly adjusted income, and HUD will cover the other 70%.

Public housing is available only to low-income families and individuals who are U.S. citizens or eligible immigrants. To apply for a voucher, check this guide.

The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is a reverse mortgage program that enables you to withdraw some of the equity in your home. You can choose how you want to withdraw your funds. It can be in a fixed monthly amount, a line of credit or a combination of both.

A person must be at least 62 years old to be eligible for this benefit. 

They must also be currently occupying the property, have paid it in full or have a small mortgage balance. If they owe the federal government money, they have to be good payers. 

To apply for grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards, reach out to USDA Housing Repair Program.

You can also check here for more information.

Community Services

Those providing at-home care for the elderly living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia may also be concerned about challenging behavior and wandering risks. 

You can prevent these by signing up for Wandering Support Programs. These programs offer 24/7 support to help find missing elderly and get them home safely.

Silver Alert Programs are also available. 

Local and statewide authorities, as well as the general public, can get information that may be crucial to the person's safe return. 

It does not require registration and anyone with cognitive impairment can participate in the program.

For caregivers needing help with looking after their loved one during the day, adult care centers can help. 

You can check the Eldercare Locator or the National Adult Day Services Association to find an elder care center near you.

Housekeeping services are also available for those living far away from their aging parents. 

You can also hire a trained aide to assist them with personal hygiene like bathing and dressing up. Home health aides can also assist in temporary nursing care and managing medications.

If you’ve never hired help before, this resource can help you choose the right provider.

Free legal help

Around 1 in 6 people 60 years old and older has experienced elder abuse in the past year. 

And most of these are from communities, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. 

Because of this, there’s also a need for subsidized legal services for those who suffered abuse. 

Long term care ombudsman services are available for legal help. 

Approach them if a senior resident is being neglected, exploited or abused. The program advocated for the quality of life and care of individuals living in long-term care facilities.

This can include improper discharge of a patient, poor quality of care, food quality, poor staff attitudes, lack of respect for residents and a hazardous environment.

Check here to find the nearest local ombudsman in your area. 

If you're confused, this resource provides you with a detailed list of services by State along with the agency names and how you can qualify. 

You can also visit Benefits Checkup and Benefits.gov for other benefits for the elderly. 

Conclusion

At-home care for the elderly may be expensive. The good thing is, there are so many options available to help alleviate the burden and financial costs. 

All you have to do is know where to find them. 

Do you have any tips for lowering costs for at-home care for the elderly? 

Share it with us below.

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That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. NEED FOR CAREGIVER SELF CARE WHEN CARING FOR THE ELDERLY
  2. ELDERLY CARE IN HOME AND ELSEWHERE
  3. PREVENTION OF FALLING AT HOME - STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PREVENT FALLING
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