Checking in with seniors to see how it’s going

By Doug Sheaffer

Olympic Area Agency on Aging

How are you doing? Everything going OK? Sort of OK? OK some days? Not OK much at all?

At various times in our lives, we can hit any of the above categories. Life is rarely a slow, steady, unchanging river. Sometimes there’s enough debris in the water to block much forward momentum, and we find ourselves needing a little (or more than a little) help.

Many people have benefitted from various temporary assistance resources while recovering from a medical event, got through it, recovered, and were once again on their way.

Many others need what’s referred to as long-term care services in order to make it safely through the days, months and years ahead. And a lot of these either had little money to begin with, or used their resources to pay for their needs until there was little to none left — meaning the money, not said needs.

Programs exist in order to help provide both financial and physical support to maintain independence and safety, and this time out, we’re talking about help in the home — appropriately enough referred to as in-home care.

Medicaid (Apple Health) In-Home Care programs are available to those who are both income/resource eligible, and meet functional requirements. In other words, the type of physical assistance required in order to physically perform daily tasks.

First, the financial piece. The only clear-cut piece I can point to is regarding assets, meaning liquid funds available such as bank accounts, stocks, etc. The resource limit here is $2,000, in addition to a limited amount designated to burial expenses. Assets do not include your home or vehicle.

The reason I noted “clear-cut” is that the income limits become a little more intricate, depending on money being spent on outstanding medical bills, cost of participating in the program (referred to as client responsibility) and so on. Other considerations come into play if there is a spouse in the home and other –to me—arcane minutiae.

This why we have financial workers. They know their stuff and deal with it daily. Knowing the ins and outs of what’s acceptable and what to evaluate is in their domain. The application process starts things rolling to the point of determining eligibility.

Next is the functional piece. The tasks noted below (referred to as Activities of Daily Living or ADL’s) are some of the areas assessed:

• Mobility: How you move around inside and outside your home, how you reposition yourself in bed, etc.

• Transfers: Rising from bed, chairs and so on.

• Bathing: Self-bathing, getting in/out of the tub or shower

• Dressing: Self-explanatory

• Toileting: Safely using bathroom facilities, pads, etc.

• Hygiene: This covers everything from brushing teeth to combing hair.

• Other areas: Medication management, eating, and other areas.

In other words: How do you get through the day? Are you independent? Need some help? Lots of help? The idea is to get a picture of how things have been going and how assistance could be provided.

Now, what about applying for the services? Home & Community Services is the front door for evaluating eligibility and performing an initial assessment of needs. Once you apply, a Social Worker will be assigned to do just that.

Contact centralized intake at 360-664-9138 or toll free at 800-786-3799 to start the process. As noted earlier, these programs have helped a lot of people. It’s your life and you know better than anyone what you need. Take the step.

You can email Doug Sheaffer at sheafdf@dshs.wa.gov