Aging in Place with Community Support

What happens when you need help at home?

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In the Comfort Life Spotlight

Bob and Diane are living quite comfortably in their early 70's, aging in place in their urban community.  But life takes its turns...

Bob and Diane seem to be in great shape both physically and financially. They have a stable income, social support, good health and bright prospects going into what used to be called ‘the sunset years’. They should have many healthy, carefree years to come, right?

Diane’s lifelong love of sports left her with a hip that needed replacement, and she duly scheduled her operation. What should have been a simple procedure became a two-week hospital stay when an infection developed in the joint, inhibiting its ability to accept the replacement hip and infecting the incision site. She was anxious to come home but too embarrassed to have Bob help with personal care. On the advice of the hospital social worker, they arranged for 24/7 private care through a home care agency, to care for her wound, bathe and help her get to the bathroom.

Diane was initially comforted by the care, but within a few days, she was anxious to start doing things for herself. When the agency’s invoice arrived for the first week, Bob and Diane were horrified to see a figure of $625/day - $4,400 for the week!

Together they reviewed her needs more carefully and developed a care plan to reduce the care to four hours daily, and realistically, they enlisted a bedside commode rather than hire someone to help Diane get to the bathroom. They also contacted their local subsidized community care service for the basic services of a bath and other care from a personal support worker, which the provincial government provided, free of charge. The cleaning lady was asked to visit twice weekly for laundry and cleaning, and to generally keep Diane’s bathroom and bedroom tidy. A rotation of her girlfriends was set up for two hours every afternoon to keep Diane company, and to do small personal care tasks and errands. Diane also video-chatted with her daughter in Vancouver to keep her up to date, and she enjoyed some binge-watching on Netflix.

Bob and Diane’s revised budget

Property tax $542.00
Utilities $365.00
general home maintenance $750.00
internet, 2 cell phones, $100.00
Groceries $700.00
Drugstores $200.00
Liquor $100.00
Cars - gas, insurance etc. – 1 car $1,200.00
Entertainment - dining, theatre $0.00
Clothing $0.00
Sundry cash $500.00
2/week cleaning lady 800.00
Care - 4 x $18/hour x 7 days = $504.00

With Diane not driving, fewer leisure expenses and cash purchases, and even with a higher cost for the caregiver and cleaning lady, the budget was considerably less than usual.

True to their cohort, Bob and Diane had the confidence to question the social worker’s recommendation of 24/7 care, and to amend their requirements likewise. As with many in her cohort, Diane disliked the idea of being ill, liked to downplay caregiving in order to ‘age invisibly.’ We might even say that she was somewhat in denial that she really needed help, allowing only trusted people such as her cleaning lady and friends in to help.

Read more

Our previous look at aging at home

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