Options exist to keep the elderly at home

Most people do not wake up one day and decide they want to move into a nursing home. Traditionally, they live there because they have medical and personal needs that cannot be met at home.

As a former nursing home administrator and current New Jersey long-term care ombudsman, I think I can state with some authority that most New Jersey nursing homes generally provide a safe, caring and therapeutic environment for their residents. However, home care is expensive.

When you examine the continuum of today’s long-term care options, it is clear there are many people currently living in nursing homes who may be able to live in their own home with the proper home-based supports and services.

The good news is that the state of New Jersey, working in partnership with the federal Medicaid program, has dramatically expanded access to the types of services people need in their homes if they are to avoid an extended nursing-home stay. These services include visiting nurses, personal care assistants, care management and assistance with obtaining housing.

If you are living in a nursing home or you know someone who is, and you want more information about moving back to the community, I strongly urge you to call the I Choose Home NJ program — a collaboration among the state Department of Human Services’ divisions of Aging Services, Disability Services and Developmental Disabilities, and my office.

Under the I Choose Home NJ program, people who have been living in nursing homes for more than three months and are eligible for Medicaid may be able to move home with home-based services.

Just as important, each person who has transitioned home will also save the state thousands of dollars per year that will be reinvested back into more communitybased services for everyone.

May is Older Americans Month. What better way to honor our older citizens than to allow them more opportunities to return to or stay in their own homes? Call for more information at 855-466-3005 or 855- HOME-005, or visit our website at www.ichoosehome.nj.gov.

James W. McCracken
New Jersey Ombudsman
for the Institutionalized Elderly