Q: My husband needs more care than I can provide, but we cannot afford the cost of home care agencies. We make too much money for Medi-Cal services, but not enough to pay for private care. What can I do to get help?

A: You bring up a very difficult situation that we hear about often. Many family caregivers do not qualify for assistance, and they may be left feeling overburdened and without support.

The Medi-Cal program in California can offer eligible recipients in home care through a program called In Home Support Services. This means it will pay for a certain number of approved hours of home care per month. Medicare, on the other hand, does not offer this type of home care benefit.

The income limit for a couple on Medi-Cal is $2,024 a month with no more then $3,000 in assets. The cost of in-home care through a licensed home care agency is around $30 an hour. This means if a person requires 4 hours of caregiver support a day and must pay privately, their monthly cost just for that care is $3,600. Therefore, someone would need an income of at least twice that amount just to afford this care.

What do the people in the middle do if they cannot afford in home care and are not low-income enough to qualify for assistance through the Medi-Cal Program? I encourage anyone in this situation to reach out to one of the Family Caregiver Resource Centers to receive guidance and support. The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging can direct you to the center that serves your location. You can reach them at 805-477-7300. There are three centers. One located at Senior Concerns and serves the East Ventura County. One located at the Camarillo Healthcare District, and one located in the Area Agency on Aging that also serves monolingual Spanish speakers.

The Family Caregiver Resource Centers can help direct you to any grants that you may qualify for. Typically, these grants can pay for short-term in-home care to help supplement your needs. The Area Agency on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, and Coast Caregiver Resource Center are all agencies that can offer grants for in home care when funding is available.

These Resource Centers will also help you talk through your situation and come up with new ideas and ways to help make your caregiving a little easier. Sometimes that means thinking outside of the box and looking for help from family, friends, and volunteer organizations. It may not be the perfect situation, but there may be creative ways to help coordinate a schedule that will provide you a little break time and some support that may just make all the difference in your stress level.

An Adult Day Care Center may be an appropriate and more affordable option for care for your loved one. While right now many Adult Day Care Centers are offering limited hours or may be paused due to COVID, you can still learn what is available for when the time is right.

We often resist asking for help from others when the help may be more readily available than we think. Perhaps a child lives out of state but can pay for a day of care each week to help. Maybe a friend is not comfortable helping with hands on caregiving, but they can offer to prepare food or run some errands for you. Anything someone can do to take a task off your plate will help free up your time and energy for other responsibilities.

There may not be a perfect solution, but that does not mean there is not some form of solution that may ease some of your needs. Reach out for help to professionals and to your personal community. You never know what other options may be available unless you ask.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org

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