Five years ago this August, my father died of complications involving Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Dad died nearly seven years after he was first diagnosed, and with a great primary-care physician, lots of family support and assistance from home care and hospice, he was not hospitalized once during that seven-year period. Our family was blessed that Dad was able to die in the home in which he and Mom raised our family of 10 children.

Recently a national Associated Press story ran across the nation about cuts in Medicare and Medicaid services to address our state and federal spending problems. This story, by Associated Press correspondents John Seewer and Tayefe Mohajer, deserves a close read.

The U.S. population is aging rapidly. Baby boomers are turning 65 at a rate of 7,000 per day. Our population’s health needs grow as we age, and the most desirable and cost-effective means of caring for those who are aging and with disabilities involves care at home in the form of skilled services by a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist or master of social work.

It involves care by companions, nurse aides, direct-service workers and others who assist those with Medicaid. More than 80,000 Medicare recipients received care at home in 2010. Tens of thousands more were able to live in their homes instead of institutional settings thanks to important Medicaid coverage.

Our state and federal finances continue to challenge even the brightest of our elected officials. And our health-care providers need to continue to enhance efficiencies and outcomes to assure the highest value is provided for each dollar spent. When given a choice, sound, progressive, inexpensive care at home is the most popular option. Please find out about options available to you and your loved ones for care at home, and encourage our elected officials to support home health care.

Warren Hebert, RN, BSN, CAE, executive director

HomeCare Association of Louisiana