'PEACE OF MIND': Grand Forks in-home services offer more than care“Some people are perfectly capable (of living at home), they just need help,” said Melissa Johnson, owner of Home Helpers in Grand Forks. They may not be able to readily obtain that help because family members live at a distance or have job commitments, she said.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
At 94, Huldie Lindgren is outgoing and talkative.
The large calendar spread over her dining table is crammed with plans and reminders.
“They say ‘you can’t be a stick-in-the-mud,’” she said, smiling.
A widow for the past 15 years, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a decade ago, yet she lives in the same one-level patio home she’s inhabited for more than 20 years in Grand Forks.
Lindgren is one of an increasing number of older adults who are able to stay in the home they know and love because of businesses that meet growing demand for in-home care.
“With the services we’ve been able to get in the community, and the whole caregiving piece, that’s what has allowed us to keep her at home,” said her daughter, Diane Knauf of Grand Forks.
She and other family members have created a network of support to ensure Lindgren is never without the supervision, companionship and daily-living assistance she needs.
A major part of that network is the Comfort Keepers caregiver, who is in the home from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays to help with housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry and other tasks.
“They do anything I want them to do,” Lindgren said. “They take me anywhere I want to go… I have nothing to worry about.”
“Comfort Keepers is an absolute blessing,” Knauf said. “It allows us to continue with our lives. We know that she’s safe during the day. We have that peace of mind.”
A little help
“Some people are perfectly capable (of living at home), they just need help,” said Melissa Johnson, owner of Home Helpers in Grand Forks.
They may not be able to readily obtain that help because family members live at a distance or have job commitments, she said.
Close contact with clients’ family members is vital. “Families rely on us for reports,” said Mary Beth Martin, manager of Comfort Keepers in Grand Forks.
Patients with dementia can be very sly, she said. “They can cover a lot of things on the phone (with their families). But when we visit them in the home, they obviously need more help. We become the ‘yes and ears for the family.”
Every client is different, she said. “We have all ages and many diagnoses.”
Accident victims or those battling an illness can become clients.
Garrett Barclay, 25, sustained a spinal cord injury when he rolled his pick-up truck in 2006. The accident left him unable to use his legs.
For the past four years, he has received services from Comfort Keepers employees who help him get up every morning and exercise. They prepare meals, do housekeeping chores and return to help him to bed.
“There are also people, private quality service providers, who do this kind of work, but they’re hard to find,” Barclay said. “And they usually already have clients.”
The drawback to hiring an individual is, if that person gets sick, there’s no backup, he said.
In-home vs. assisted living
Given the high cost of assisted-living and nursing home care, in-home services present a less costly and more flexible alternative.
Fees range from about $24 per hour to $170 for 10- to 12-hour stays. Costs may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance plans and programs. These businesses employ nurses, certified nurse assistants and students in the health professions who meet state requirements.
As more Americans live longer and relatively healthier lives, businesses that help seniors stay in their homes will continue to thrive, said Barry Wilfahrt, president of The Chamber Grand Forks-East Grand Forks.
“The whole home-health field is one of the growing industries,” he said. “Just look at the demographics; it’s where we’re headed as aging baby boomers.”
He also pointed to emerging businesses that deliver and set up medical equipment in the home and those that offer physical therapy and rehabilitation services that can reduce hospital stays.
“We’ve tripled our business in the last four years,” said Martin about Comfort Keepers.
Johnson expects Home Helpers to grow as more people learn about it, she said, “and as it becomes not such a private, taboo thing to receive help.”
Some businesses are adding services in response to consumer demand.
Comfort Keepers has begun to offer a service for people who are discharged from a rehabilitation facility and need help transitioning back to their home.
“They may have fractured a hip, were hospitalized and then moved to a rehab facility for physical therapy which can be quite intense,” Martin said. “We get their medications, any groceries they need and get them settled at home.
Knauf, who has worked in the human services field for 34 years, said veterans and their spouses could benefit from programs which offer resources that are probably underutilized.
“Any time you can keep (elderly people) at home, and keep their lives whole, you keep that sense of dignity.”
Reach Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.