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HomeShare Programs and LivHOME Help Seniors Stay Put
August 23, 2012 - By Annemarie Donkin
Living in your own home as you get older is the ideal situation, where you have a network of family and friends and a strong connection to the community.
This is especially true of Topangans who often stay in their homes for a lifetime and retain their independence with weekly outdoor activities and fulfilling social interaction.
Yet due to the recent economic downturn and general cost-of-living increases, seniors everywhere are the most vulnerable as they move through their retirement years with the hopes of using this important property asset to finance their golden years.
Unfortunately this plan does not always work out.
According to a 2008 needs assessment survey completed by more than 16,500 seniors in Los Angeles County, one in ten seniors (10%) reported having trouble paying rent.
Yet there are effective home-sharing programs in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties that can help mitigate the cost of living at home or provide safe homes for those at risk.
Additionally, LivHOME allows seniors to stay in their own homes and receive qualified, professional assistance.
HomeShare in Los Angeles County
PHOTO COURTESY MIRIAM HALL
Miriam Hall is the HomeShare Program Manager for Affordable Living for the Aging. She places qualified people in home share situations throughout Los Angeles County.
Home sharing is a low-cost, mutually beneficial way to meet the housing and care needs of two individuals.
Sharing their home can also help individuals who have extra space in their home and/or need financial assistance to offset housing costs.
Miriam Hall is the Home Share Program Manager for Affordable Living for the Aging in Los Angeles County.
So far this year, she has helped more than 50 people find safe and affordable housing in exchange for duties such as companionship, light housekeeping, shopping and transportation.
If the senior is not yet at the point of needing skilled nursing, that is where we bridge the gap, Hall said. We help folks who dont need nursing care or assistance.
Hall said the program is open to anyone over the age of 18, with at least one person over the age of 55 served in each match.
Before making any placements, Hall said they conduct full background, criminal and compatibility checks, including obtaining references.
They also conduct home inspections and personal interviews with both parties. No fee is charged to either party.
We have more seekers than providers, Hall said. Yet home share programs have been in existence since the 1970s and are considered to be a good alternative for people who cant afford an apartment.
Hall said the typical rent paid by the home seeker ranges from zero to about $550 per month.
The home seeker can provide services in exchange for lower rent, she said. We do the leg work, but the final decision is made by the people involved; living together is not always easy, usually the problems occur when people cant talk about their needs. Small things can set people off and we are constantly coaching people to work on a solution.
Yet, Hall said there are surprisingly few conflicts among home sharers who typically live together for one to two years.
We encourage trial periods of at least a week or month, Hall emphasized. To decide whether its right for them.
For more information on HomeShare of Los Angeles, contact Miriam Hall, 208 S. Bonnie Brae St., Los Angeles, CA 90057 (213) 261-3862 (tel.); (213) 989-1630 (fax) or www.alaseniorliving.org.
From left, Director Muriel Steiger, Eleanor Robinson and Judith Farrell help people find safe and affordable homes at Homeshare of Ventura.
Homeshare of Ventura is a government-supported program that matches low-income home seekers with home providers. No fee is charged.
The process includes an application, an interview, evaluation of the home providers property and a careful background check and follow-up.
Director Muriel Steiger said the program is quite successful on an intergenerational level as the home provider is usually a senior and the home seeker is most often younger.
The other plus to the program is that it keeps seniors in their homes longer so they dont have to go to a nursing home, Steiger said.
The programs mandate is to serve the City of Ventura, yet they are also sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging and the Housing Authority of Ventura and the City of Ventura.
Homeshare of Ventura has placed nearly 25 people so far in 2012 and currently have about 34 people in need with only about 16 available housing providers.
Its a big step to have someone come into your home, said Judith Farrell, who works with Steiger. People become more set in their ways as they get older; we have seen that a lot.
As their brochure states: We need the help of the senior community to have faith enough in the Homeshare program to open their homes to a person who might offer them companionship, friendship and help with household chores, as well as some income.
For more information contact Muriel Steiger at Homeshare of Ventura, 646 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003; (805) 477-7324; or e-mail at email@example.com.
LivHOME takes the whole family, whole client approach for providing home care services for seniors.
In this program, LivHOMEs professional geriatric care managers and caregivers partner with families and professionals to provide solutions to the challenges of older adults remaining safely at home.
A member of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce, Ruthie Rosenberg, Certified Care Manager, is an Elder Care Consultant with LivHOME on the Westside.
We recognize how vulnerable our seniors are in Topanga and we understand their independent spirit, Rosenberg said. We provide experienced caregivers who can take their charges to doctors appointments or to the market, as well as to the opera or a museum. Its one way of getting out and enjoying an activity, and to not only maintain the home care experience, but to enhance it.; personal care and housekeeping are just one part of a caregiving plan.
Rosenberg said that they have six geriatric care managers who are credentialed experts in senior care with a specialty in social work, nursing or mental health.
Every caregiver is a LivHOME employee with full benefits, Rosenberg said. Each is fully insured, drug tested, background checked and is covered by workers compensation coverage. Direct at-home caregiver supervision and ongoing training is provided by the professional care managers, she said.
LivHOME was founded in 1999 with a mission of making the elder care experience a better one.
Through its several offices, they serve clients throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
With the myriad of choices available to seniors, LivHOMEs care managers will assess the needs and plan services for care at home or in a senior community, Rosenberg said. Many times, life decisions are made during a crisis such as a hospital discharge. An objective and certified geriatric care manager can help with the road map to ensure seniors remain safely and happily at home.