When I think about whether caregivers must sacrifice financially to care for a loved one or not, I relate to the example of when my mom was disabled at only fifty-six years old. As a direct result of her diabetes, she had retinopathy, which caused a loss of vision and, thus, a loss of her driving privileges, ultimately being deemed disabled by the state. Not only was this a big blow to her independence but also to her self-esteem. She now had to rely on others for help in her daily living.
She was used to being an independent, modern woman who raised her only child alone, with no financial help from an absent father, ran a successful contracting company that specialized in fire restoration and mold remediation, and cheerfully gave back to her community in so many ways from teaching reading literacy to children and adults to caring for her aging parents.
Thankfully, when my mom was deemed disabled, I worked strictly from home. We lived close by, and my children were babies then, so I was physically and geographically available to help her, but my business and personal finances suffered. Happily, though, each morning, we would pick “Nana” up from her house and bring her to ours so she could help me in the caregiving of her two “precious grandsons” – as she affectionately referred to them.
Over time, her disease progressed, she had to inject insulin three times a day, and then she needed our help in her day-to-day care. Because she was visually impaired, she also needed in home health professional support to help administer her diabetic medications like insulin intravenously and dialysis treatment through a port in her chest.
I am grateful that the State of Michigan offers such caregivers (Friends and family members except for parents and spouses) pay for the care they provide, as well as gas money for any mileage driven. The individual works with the county case manager to determine the appropriate amount of care and is then granted a budget for care instead of receiving services directly from the state.
Sadly, my mother passed away the day before our meeting with her social worker to begin receiving benefits. Although, in the long run, she never wanted to live in a nursing home, and with the acceleration of her diabetes, that is most likely where she would have ended up, only to bypass the dignified option of in-home care. Hence, my recent concern for setting up care for myself as I age (which I will go into later).
What is home help program in Michigan?
The Home Help program is administered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). It provides personal care services to individuals needing hands-on assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs).
According to the Home Help program, their goals are:
- To encourage and support the client’s right and responsibility to make informed choices.
- To provide timely, quality assessments and approvals, ensuring the necessary supports are offered to assist the client to live independently and with dignity.
- To recognize and encourage the client’s natural support system.
- To empower the client to manage their services, respecting the client’s right to determine what services are necessary, when they are completed, and how they are performed.
- To provide resources to enable client self-advocacy.
Home help care services
As my friends and I approach the “mid-life point,” I can see our bodies beginning to break down, especially those of us who were athletes. One friend is battling cancer (not very well either), one is about to have her fourth back surgery, and I have suffered from chronic pain for many years.
However, my old sports injuries and nerve pain have recently rendered me disabled on a few occasions, which made me think about how I may not be too far off in starting to plan and save for in-home health care services, especially within my home state of Michigan.
Thankfully, Michigan has a few programs to help our aging and disabled populations. For example, through the MI Choice Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver, Medicaid pays for home care services in an individual’s home. The program is available to older adults (sixty-five and older) and younger people with physical disabilities. Furthermore, additional services like adult day services or transportation will be provided if needed.
Services like these are paid for by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Some reputable in-home care professional services may have a menu of care and services that are specifically designed to meet the needs of two types of clients: The elderly, including those suffering from memory-related illnesses, and the seriously injured – individuals of all ages requiring care and rehabilitation after suffering an incapacitating illness or injury, including those coping with the aftermath of a brain or spinal cord injury.
Through navigating life’s ups and downs, our bodies inevitably may not always cooperate as we would like. Whether battling cancer, managing chronic pain, or recovering from a sports injury, the need for in-home care services becomes all too real.
So, as we face the uncertainties of aging and the possibility of needing assistance down the road, let’s remember that in-home care is a viable option that allows us to maintain our independence and dignity. By embracing the available resources and planning for the future, we can follow in the footsteps of those who came before us, like my remarkable mother, who taught us the importance of living life on our own terms.
But who is there to help the elderly and disabled when a disaster strikes? Let’s see what resources are available…
Disaster recovery help for the elderly and disabled
According to The Administration for Community Living (ACL), “Older adults and people with disabilities have unique and special needs to consider, especially during a disaster. Each year, more than ten million people receive services under the Older Americans Act,”. They go on to state that delivery of these services largely depends on the efforts of volunteers who do the following:
- Assist at group meal sites and deliver meals to homebound older adults
- Escort and transport older adults to health care services
- Repair and weatherize the homes of low-income and frail older adults
- Counsel in a variety of areas, including health, nutrition, legal matters, and financial concerns
- Serve as long-term care ombudsmen to help ensure the safety and well-being of residents in nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities
AoA is working to support using volunteers in OAA programs and to provide expanded opportunities for older adults and others to get involved in their communities. (The Administration on Aging (AOA) is the principal agency of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services designated to carry out the provisions of the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA))
ACL advocates across the federal government for older adults, people with disabilities, and families and caregivers; funds services and supports provided primarily by states and networks of community-based programs; and invests in training, education, research, and innovation.
They manage various programs (authorized by several statutes), providing assistance on health and wellness, protecting rights and preventing abuse, supporting consumer control, strengthening the networks of community-based organizations, funding research, and much more.
The National Institute on Aging suggests that while everyone is at risk during a natural weather-related disaster or similar emergency, aging adults are especially vulnerable during these challenging times, and being prepared in advance will literally mean the difference between life and death, particularly for those who may have special medical or mobility needs.
Does the state of Michigan pay for caregivers?
As we age or face disabilities, it’s important to remember that we don’t have to give up our independence. In-home care and support programs are available to help us stay in our own homes and live with dignity. By preparing for the future and using the existing resources, we can face any challenges with confidence and strength from those who support us.