New program pays family caregivers for elderly loved ones
By KENNETH CRAIG
As the elderly population continues to grow, so will the need for more caregivers.
Often family members must make tough choices like quitting their own jobs to stay home or leaving a loved one in the care of a stranger. A revolutionary home health care program is trying to change that.
Self-directed care is a program funded by Medicaid. It allows the sick or elderly to hire their own family and friends to take care of them. Those loved ones get paid for it, but patients don’t have to pay out of their own pockets.
Legia Prezioso is 93 years old and suffers from dementia. Her son's fiancée, Peggy Derosa, recently became her full-time caregiver.
"Without being paid to take care of her, I would have to go out and get a job and then we'd have to have somebody come in and she's not comfortable with that," Derosa says.
Peggy assists Legia with everything from her medication and meals to simply getting around.
Legia's case is managed and coordinated by a company called "FreedomCare," which oversees thousands of New York patients.
Peggy uses an app equipped with facial recognition and tracking technology, a safety mechanism designed to prevent fraud.
Yoel Gabay is the CEO of "FreedomCare." Gabay believes the model could make a big dent in the growing shortage of caregivers driven by aging baby boomers, while also improving health outcomes for patients.
"We've seen the hospitalization numbers significantly drop from the national averages," Gabay says.
Most states have similar Medicaid programs for seniors and salaries vary state to state.
The program is only eligible to Medicaid recipients. A nurse also determines medical eligibility and how many weekly hours of care each patients receives.
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