In-home care offers seniors independence

Published on Thu, Feb 21, 2008
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In-home care offers seniors independence

When Diane Turner’s mother became ill with Parkinson’s disease several years ago, she had little idea the event would change her life and career path substantially.

But it was through this experience that led Diane and her husband Gary to start Promise In-Home Care, a new business offering in-home care to Whatcom County residents in their retirement including those in Blaine and Birch Bay.

The company offers in-home care ranging from light housekeeping and physician visits to bed-bound assistance care or assistance with hygiene and dressing, often at rates less than a full-time care facility.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as providing an individual a way to get to and from shopping, church, to visit friends or attend social events.
Turner said attendants are trained in general care, CPR and first aid. Continued training as well as specific training for individual client needs is also offered, she said.

“After my mom’s death, I realized how important it is to people that they are taken care of in their home and to maintain some sort of independence,” she said. “I got to thinking about it and I feel good doing this. I also think in the future it’s going to be something we’re going to need more and more.”

Turner, who is also president of the Washington Latino Business Association, said she has nearly 20 years of experience in hospital program development including wound care, diabetic, senior health and preventative care.

Her husband Gary has nearly 30 years of experience working in hospital management, skilled nursing and home health executive administration, as well as serving as a U.S. Navy medic in his earlier years.

Before her mother’s death in 2006, Diane and Gary had tried at first unsuccessfully to move her from her Costa Mesa, California home so they could help her enjoy her final years to the best extent possible.

But the Turners are not alone. As families are increasingly fragmented and disconnected, the task of caring for elderly loved ones is becoming more and more difficult, especially when those individuals do not want to leave their familiar surroundings and friends.

“We need to rethink and realize we are an aging society,” she said. “We need to look at what we’re doing for that and how we’re going to make it affordable for the people who need it.”

Turner said the average cost of a nursing home is about $60,000 per year, per person.

Relying on family members can also be costly in terms of forgone income for the family caretaker. The average in-home family care taker, for example, loses $500,000 during the caretaking period, she said.

Often as a result, individuals of families go bankrupt and lapse into a government-subsidized program that places those individuals in a Medicaid or Medicare facility.

“The other thing we find is there are two old people taking care of each other,” she said. “Older people also have a hard time admitting they need help taking care of themselves.”

Turner said because of this, she recommends children and grandchildren be vigilant about making sure older family members are able to take care of themselves or be able to facilitate if assistance is necessary.

Neither Medicare or Medicaid currently pay for in-home care and Turner recommends individuals consider sound financial planning as well as a long-term care insurance policy or the possibility of a reverse home mortgage.

Promise In-Home Care is located at 1313 E. Maple Street, Suite 239 in Bellingham and can be reached by calling 360/685-4239 or by emailing promisehomecare@aol.com. Their web site is www.promiseinhome.com.