Saturday, October 25, 2014

Agency helps keep costs down for seniors at home

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer | 1/25/2013

It’s cheaper to stay at home, Elizabeth Maxwell says.

The East Central Kansas Area on Aging is seeing more people striving to stay in their home. Maxwell, the agency’s director, said the cost savings can be thousands of dollars for seniors who choose to stay in their home rather than move to a nursing home facility.

It’s cheaper to stay at home, Elizabeth Maxwell says.

The East Central Kansas Area on Aging is seeing more people striving to stay in their home. Maxwell, the agency’s director, said the cost savings can be thousands of dollars for seniors who choose to stay in their home rather than move to a nursing home facility.

“To stay at home with just some state and federal funds [it costs] $1,745 a year, so a huge difference,” Maxwell told the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Wednesday during the agency’s annual report.

That number is a stark contrast to the average cost of moving into a nursing home facility. The average cost of the nursing homes in the six counties the agency serves — Franklin, Anderson, Coffey, Linn, Osage and Miami — is about $53,000 a year, she said.

“Our counties are higher than the average for the state,” Maxwell said. “We have some pricey nursing facilities in our six counties, so that is not a statewide average.”

ECKAAA is one of 11 similar agencies in the state and more than 600 aging agencies across the country, Maxwell said. Mandated by the Older Americans Act, a federal law, the agencies provide and coordinate services to help the elderly stay in their homes as long as possible, Maxwell said, while allowing them to feel safe doing so. The agency also helps seniors when they are ready to make the transition into a nursing home facility or assisted living center.

The agency receives state and federal dollars that provide most of their services, but the counties the agency serves also are asked to match those funds to maintain services. They also receive private donations and grants.

The agency offers several services to senior citizens such as bathing, housekeeping, shopping, meals program, respite care, hearing aids, dentures, ramps, as well as some health and wellness programs in the homes. In 2012, $2 million worth of services went to about 3,000 different people in Franklin County, which is up a little from 2011, Maxwell said. All of these services, Maxwell said, help to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible, which saves everyone money.

“There is a huge savings to keep people at home as long as possible,” she said. 

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