New twist on assisted living: Sending caregivers to homes

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By Elizabeth Bernstein, The Wall Street Journal

Seniors who need a little extra help but aren’t ready to move into a retirement home have a new option: They can let the home come to them.

Looking to increase their business without having to build new facilities and to attract residents, a growing number of companies that run assisted-living or nursing homes are offering an array of nonmedical services to elderly people who want to remain in their houses. Among the offerings: trained caregivers who help with daily tasks and plan activities to keep a senior’s mind active — as well as access to services and events at the retirement facilities themselves, such as meals, gyms, classes and field trips. Some companies even promise that their home-care clients will get preferential treatment in securing a live-in spot at facilities that have long waiting lists.

The services can be pricey. Most of the companies jumping into the home-care field specialize in high-end assisted-living facilities, which typically cater to relatively able-bodied seniors and offer luxurious surroundings and an array of social opportunities. Now, they are trying to target a similar clientele with their home-care services: well-off individuals who need companionship and help with daily activities — but not skilled nursing — and who have private long-term-care insurance or can afford to pay for the services out-of-pocket. Because these services are nonmedical, Medicare doesn’t cover them.

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