Family caregivers need resources to help their senior loved ones’ age in place and live the highest quality of life possible.
Frequently seniors need help from healthcare providers across the continuum of care to give them support to remain healthy as they age, in addition to the assistance that they receive from their family caregivers.
Are these long term support services (LTSS) available in their state or community, are they accessible, and will they meet their needs are questions that a recent report has helped answer for caregivers.
LTSS include a wide range of care interventions, such as
- personal care (bathing, dressing, eating, walking, toileting)
- complex care (medications, wound care)
- help with housekeeping
- paying bills
- other ongoing social services such as assistive technology and devices
Services can be received in the home, assisted living and other supportive housing settings, nursing facilities, and integrated settings. LTSS also include supportive services provided to family members and other unpaid caregivers.
Creating a State Scorecard
AARP, The SCAN Foundation, and the Commonwealth Fund investigated five key dimensions with measures or indicators in each category to determine which states were providing adequate LTSS for seniors and caregivers.
Hopefully this state scorecard will be used by state government and agencies to “pick up the pace” to create and sustain services for seniors in the community.
The scorecard measures state “performance for creating a high-quality system of care in order to drive progress toward improvement in services for older adults and people with physical disabilities, and their family caregivers.”
How does your state rank? Check out the report findings here.
LTSS Scorecard Measures
Areas that were investigated include:
- Affordability and Access – ability to find and afford service plus a safety net for those unable to pay
- Choice of Setting and Provider – choice about where they will get services and who will provide
- Quality of Life and Quality of Care – maximize positive outcomes and treat seniors with respect
- Support for Family Caregivers – support for caregivers to allow them to continue to provide care without burnout
- Effective Transitions – minimize need for transitions such as hospitalizations and create seamless transitions when needed
Some states showed improvements over the 2014 report, many remained consistent without overall improvement, and many were found to have some declines in specific areas.
Unfortunately for family caregivers, what this report doesn’t measure is the quality of the care provided as they felt there was no one measure nationwide for quality of care.
This scorecard added a few important measures of interest to family caregivers such as transportation for seniors who can no longer drive, the extent to which registered nurses are able to delegate health maintenance tasks to nonfamily members, a caregiver assessment, and other ways in which family caregivers can be supported, for themselves and in their role as caregiver.
Tips for Families to Benefit from LTSS
Family caregivers and their senior loved ones have options about resources that will benefit them as they remain independent to age in place.
Connecting and utilizing with these resources isn’t always easy though. Here are some tips to help caregivers engage with LTSS.
- Determine what help your senior needs to remain independent. Do they need someone to cook and clean? Do they need help with personal care such as bathing? Do they need reminders for medications or someone to help with finance management?
- Have you talked with their doctor about what gaps in your senior’s independence need filling? Can the doctor provide community referrals for care and services?
- Understand your senior’s insurance plan and what support services are covered. Some seniors have been paying for LTC insurance but never use it. Most plans will help with in-home care support services that keep seniors at home longer instead of needing to transition to a facility.
- What technology devices can help make their daily life easier? Will a programmable thermostat help keep the air temperature livable? Will a medication reminder on a smartphone or tablet keep them safe when dosing prescriptions? Do they need emergency response system in case of falls?
- Will they be safer at home with adaptions or devices such as walker, handrails, grab bars, raised toilet seat, wider doorways, more lighting, or other accommodations?
- Have you attended disease specific support groups to make connections toward local services and caregiver support?
- Have you taken caregiver training classes either in person or online to help you be a better caregiver and reduce burnout? It is important to work smarter not harder as a caregiver so that you can continue to care for your senior.
- If needed, is there transportation available to get your senior where they need to go? Are there senior centers to keep them mentally and physically engaged?
Family caregivers will find that looking for help, not only for their senior loved one but also themselves, as caregivers will indeed lighten their load.
It is important to recognize when more help is needed, respite is desired, and where in your community help can be found.
Here are some additional posts that you may find helpful as you help your senior loved one.