With a median age of 45 and baby boomers comprising 27 percent of the population, Maine is the oldest state in the union. As a result, Maine has a large share of adult children caring for their older parents, as well as a large number of retirees relying on out-of-state health plans. In serving both groups, the professionals at Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice, Maine’s largest home healthcare organization, emphasize “navigating” the healthcare-delivery landscape, not merely “managing” it. They understand the challenge in determining what services loved ones qualify for and what supplemental care is best for those hoping to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
The first step families should take in discussing home healthcare is also the most important, according to Ken Albert, Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice’s president and CEO. He recommends having an open and honest conversation about what is a realistic level of in-home services before any services are actually needed — and including the loved one’s primary-care provider and appointed healthcare agents in those talks. “All too often those discussions aren’t had until a crisis situation emerges, so many people make the assumption that aging in place is what everybody wants,” Albert says.
Families that have thoughtful discussions around their loved ones’ preferences are in a better place to implement support services when they’re needed. It is also important for families to understand the difference between services prescribed by a doctor and services that can relieve some of a designated caregiver’s day-to-day responsibilities. Family Funded Care is care provided in addition to what is covered by a patient’s Medicare or private insurance. “Visiting nurse services are only paid for under a very specific paradigm in which there’s an obvious medical need,” Albert says. “A family can’t opt to get those services. That’s where our Family Funded Care program comes in.”
Family Funded Care visits can include elective services ranging from household care, such as doing laundry and preparing meals, to personal care, such as assistance with bathing, grooming, and dressing. In-home care also provides companionship. “Isolation is a real problem for a lot of our patients,” Albert says. “Our people can provide much-needed social interaction.” Caregivers may teach the individuals they visit how to connect with family through social media, for example, or together they may play cards and games and make crafts.
Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice has built a reputation over 60 years for hiring trustworthy and compassionate caregivers who serve patients with dignity and provide families with peace of mind. The agency believes strongly that each patient is unique and works with their loved ones to create personalized care plans that evolve as a patient’s needs change. Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice is committed to providing a continuum of care no matter the patient’s stage of life.