Many seniors who need long-term care are able to live safely at home with some outside assistance. Most long-term care services are provided informally by family and friends. Such assistance can be as limited as home-delivered meals or a ride to the grocery store.

Even folks with severe impairments can maintain themselves in their homes and avoid institutionalization if they receive adequate in-home-services, especially if they have a spouse or family members living with or near them to help coordinate the care plan.

“Home-and-community-based services” are personal care services that keep you at home rather than in a residential care facility. Such services could include:

— Companion services: intermittent or round the clock support, encouragement and companionship.

—  Housekeeping: laundry and cleaning.

— Personal care attendant: dressing, toileting, bathing, eating.

— Transportation: medical appointments, shopping.

—  Meal preparation: meals-on-wheels, pre-made meals.

— Bill paying and other financial management.

—  Shopping assistance

— Case management

Payment options for in-home services can include:

— You pay for any care you need out of pocket, from savings, monthly income or the sale of assets

— You have insurance coverage for in-home long-term care

n You are eligible for a needs based public benefit such as: Veterans Administration Assistance to veterans or spouses who qualify. Medicaid which provides in-home assistance to low income Kansans who have exhausted their own resources and the Kansas Senior Care Act provides assistance on a sliding fee scale depending upon the applicant’s income and assets.

Who and how do I hire to provide care for me in my home? Anyone you choose, but choose wisely. Here is a list of questions to help you think through the decision:

—  If you hire a friend or family member, how will you pay them? If you pay cash, you are potentially liable for payroll taxes including state and federal withholding and other employer’s contributions.

—  There are ‘private duty’ organizations available to meet the needs for in-home care. What method of screening does the organization use to insure your safety?

—  What happens if your in-home care provider doesn’t show up? Do you (or the private duty organization) have a backup plan?

— Do your in-home providers have access to your credit cards, identification, or financial records? What safeguards do you have in place to protect your financial records?

— Who has oversight authority? Other than you, who is supervising and coordinating your in-home plan, keeping you safe and protecting you against financial exploitation, neglect, or abuse?

— Who would make decisions about health care if I’m too sick or disable to act for myself? That can be a difficult problem because your spouse, your family, and your friends do not have the legal authority to make decisions for you unless you have appointed them or a court has appointed a decision maker for you. If you cannot make your own decisions, you’ll need an agent or guardian to make those decisions for you.

Information for this article was found in a legal guide for consumers of long-term care in Kansas, “The Law of Care-No Matter Where.”

The McPherson County Council on Aging is located at 926 N. Main St., Suite B, in McPherson.