There are many health and safety concerns surrounding seniors living alone. According to the Administration on Aging, approximately 20 percent of men and 36 percent of women over the age of 65 currently live alone, and accidents and close calls are among their biggest risks.
Can Medicaid Help Seniors Age In Place?
It’s no secret that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are expensive. In fact, a semi-private room in a nursing home costs nearly $7,000 a month, while assisted living costs roughly $4,500 per month. Between high costs and the desire to hold onto our independence for as long as possible, more than 90 percent of seniors over the age of 65, including those with degenerative disorders, want to live and age at home. According to studies conducted by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard, by 2035, the number of those 75 and older living alone will reach 13.4 million. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of smart home automation technologies that are enabling seniors to do just that. But how much of it will Medicaid pay for?
What Are The Risks?
There are many health and safety concerns surrounding seniors living alone. According to the Administration on Aging, approximately 20 percent of men and 36 percent of women over the age of 65 currently live alone, and accidents and close calls are among their biggest risks. Of these, falls represent the most frequent and most significant types of accidents disproportionately touching older adults.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports falls as the single leading cause of fatal injuries in the elderly and the most common reason for emergency room visits. In addition to falls, kitchen related incidents are among the most common reasons older adults need emergency care. Dexterity issues can mean sharp object injuries, mishaps with open flames and hot liquids. Leaving the oven or stove on can lead to burns and carbon monoxide inhalation. Close calls are just as important to consider as actual accidents when considering smart home features and personal assistance technologies.
How Can Smart Technology Help?
Advancements in technology are making it increasingly possible for seniors to avoid moving into nursing homes. Home automation features such as motion-activated lights can be installed in entryways or hallways to illuminate a path, and reduce tripping over things unseen. Personal assistive technologies, specifically medical alert devices, eliminate the need to get to a phone in the event of a fall or other emergency, allowing help to be summoned at the push of a button.
Beyond smoke detectors, which alert us only to the presence of smoke, stove monitors can learn or be programmed to an individual’s cooking behavior and sound an alarm when the stove has been left on. Sensory stove shut-off devices will turn the stove off after five minutes of the kitchen being uninhabited. Additionally, smart pill boxes can provide visual or audible alerts, reminding seniors to take their medications.
What Will Medicaid Pay For?
This varies by state, but generally, Medicaid will pay for equipment that’s been determined to be medically “necessary.” It also covers medical alert systems, and assistive technology. In the event it doesn’t cover these technologies, there are programs that can help by acquiring money for the recipient from Medicaid without the restrictions that generally come with it. Certain Medicaid services will also cover in-home care, intended to keep up with health care, cleaning and laundry, meal prep, transportation, dressing / bathing, and medical equipment.
The quality of life older adults are able to enjoy is paramount. There’s a wide variety of devices, services, and programs available out there to help us live independently for as long as possible. Aging in place is more doable now than ever, and luckily the financial burden of home modifications and care doesn’t have to be overwhelming.