Senior wonders about his home care needs.

Choosing the Right Senior Home Care

There are many aspects to think through when looking at in-home care senior services for yourself or a loved one. What medical conditions are present? Are you recovering from a medical event? Which daily activities, like cooking or showering, are difficult? Is driving to the grocery store or run errands burdensome? Do you remember to pay bills or take medications on a regular basis?

Recognizing that help is needed is a major first step and one that can be the toughest. Getting help to do any of these types of things is important to enjoy a high quality life. Independence is the backbone of many people and yet, with a bit of outside help, one can still lead an independent life in their own home.

Assess Your Needs

Home care aide helps senior with medications.
Center for Elders' Independence home care aide helps a participant with his medications.

It’s vital to ask yourself: What are you really looking for? There are several levels of assistance to assess. Would it be helpful to have someone to help with

  • Household chores such as light cleaning, doing laundry, preparing meals, and collecting mail?
  • Household chores and manage medicine?
  • Household chores, manage medicine, bathing and getting dressed?
  • Someone to do all of the above plus provide transportation to medical appointments?
  • How long would you like someone to help? Several months or for a much longer duration?
  • Do you have the time and capacity to manage both in-home care and medical needs?

Determining the level of care needed will guide you in your search.

Income Level Determines Providers

Next, take a look at the monthly income to determine if you qualify for Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program. If so, you have a number of options.

If you not qualify for Medi-Cal, there are many private homecare providers in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. They offer a range of services and you would need to pay out of pocket or through a long term care insurance policy.

If you qualify for Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) operated by your county health department may be right for you. If you only need home care and no other services, then IHSS might be right for your situation.

IHSS is only for low income people who are blind, disabled or over age 65. A person must qualify for Medi-Cal and applications are submitted to your county’s office, oftentimes with long wait times for a first appointment.

Once approved, depending upon your needs and circumstances, you could qualify up to the maximum of 283 hours per month. For reference, there are 720 hours in a 30-day month. There are specific rules to how these hours are used and when.

Anyone can provide in-home care under IHSS after applying. Alameda county pays $17.60 an hour and Contra County pays $16.00 an hour. They will keep in touch with the primary physician but services are not highly coordinated. No license is required. Only a criminal background check is completed. No training or specific education is required. A person has 90 days to complete the approval process.

What's the Difference between IHSS and PACE?

Home care aide and senior participant high five after accomplishing a task together.
CEI Home care aide and senior participant high five after accomplishing a task together. Friendships blossom as they work together.

Medi-Cal qualified or not, if you determine that more services than home care would be most helpful, you can consider Center for Elders’ Independence PACE senior healthcare.

PACE is a comprehensive healthcare program only for people over the age of 55 who face multiple health challenges. PACE offers so much more than light housekeeping and meal preparation.

With Center for Elders’ Independence PACE, you get wrap-around senior healthcare services including transportation and medication management. You get all your healthcare, homecare and services coordinated for you in one place:

  • Primary care physician that specializes in caring for only seniors
  • Specialists (many of your specialists are in our network)
  • Nursing care – both in the PACE clinic and in your home when you need it
  • Prescription medications delivered to your home
  • Outpatient labs, blood tests and X-rays
  • Dentistry, optometry, audiology, podiatry and psychiatry
  • Medical appointment management including door-to-door transportation
  • Licensed, educated in-home providers & certified nursing assistants (CNAs)
  • Wheelchairs, walkers and other durable medical equipment
  • Physical, occupational, speech and mental health therapy
  • Emergency care, hospitalization and transportation
  • Access to a senior rehab gym
  • Activities, exercise classes and social engagement in the day center
  • Hot meals, nutritional counseling and if needed, meal home delivery

Center for Elders’ Independence can offer all of these services to you at no charge if you qualify for Medicare and Medi-Cal. No additional co-pays. No deductibles. No limits on number of services or visits. Typically, people are approved within 30 days of applying and services start shortly thereafter. If you have a higher income, you pay a premium that is less than moving into assisted living. You get all these services, but you continue living in your own home.

In Home Supportive Services

  • Must be age 65, Blind or Disabled
  • Must qualify for full Medi-Cal
  • Personal Care Services
  • House Cleaning
  • Cooking, Shopping, Laundry
  • Medical Appointment Escort
  • You find, hire, supervise, and fire providers
  • Long Wait Lists & Times to qualify
  • Needs must be certified by doctor & State
  • Hours are determined by assessment
  • Services must be authorized & approved
  • Operated by individual county & highly regulated
  • Lots of government agencies involved
  • Cannot live in a Board & Care, Nursing Home or Hospital
  • Approve weekly time sheets
  • Caregivers could be unreliable
  • You manage all services
  • Highly regulated
  • Each type of service is limited by number of hours
  • Shortage of available caregivers

CEI PACE Home Care

  • Must be age 55 with preexisting health conditions
  • Must qualify for full Medi-Cal
  • Personal Care Services
  • Paramedical Services
  • Light House Cleaning
  • Medical Appointment Escort
  • CEI provides all providers & training
  • Approval within 30 days or less
  • Needs must be certified by State
  • Hours are based on your medical needs
  • Services are flexible
  • Operated by 40-year old, nonprofit, private company
  • Dedicated care team
  • Can live in a board & care. Nursing home and hospital stays are coordinated
  • No paperwork at all
  • Reliable, trustworthy caregivers
  • Full medical, social and physical care

Next Steps

Senior thanks CEI home care aide for her help.
Senior participant thanks his Center for Elders' Independence home care aide for her help and work.

If your situation calls for robust long-term care, we invite you to call us at 844-319-1150 anytime to ask questions and speak with an intake specialist. We’ll help you sort through the options.

Seniors health and well-being are at the core of everything we do here at Center for Elders’ Independence to make your life better.