Trendsetters: In-home care helps seniors navigate lives on their own

Anthony Pace loves to swim, be active and live independently. The lively New York-born senior longs to act as young as he feels, but his age sometimes deceives him. Pace just turned 92.

"He still wants to be 20 years old," said his daughter, Norma Marx, 58. "He's had many back surgeries and uses a walker, so he is unable to physically do many of the things he wishes to do."

Pace, who has been receiving in-home assistance for the past five years, is able to continue his independent lifestyle in his West Palm Beach condo with the help of Senior Helpers, an accredited home care agency that offers an alternative to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Seniors Helpers, created in 2001, is testing a pilot program, Navigator, which would help Marx and other families with a variety of solutions for their loved ones' physical and medical care.

It will pair clients with a care coordinator who will assist with anything - from finding equipment to setting up in-home safety modifications and even helping with placement in an assisted living center or nursing home if needed.

Michael Mohl, owner of Senior Helpers in South Palm Beach, said Navigator is a "one stop shop for our clients."

"It's case management with in-depth analysis, on top of home care, and we look at the clients needs today in the short term and long term," Mohl said.

Navigator is being tested in 16 cities around the country, including Riverview, near Tampa.

Clients are charged hourly or daily based on their needs. Costs for nurses or caregivers can range from $17 to $19 an hour to $190 to $210 a day. The company accepts long-term insurance and VA benefits for military veterans.

"I think this is a brilliant idea," said Marx, who lives in New York. She said she recently spent hours on the phone and on the Internet looking for a motorized mobility scooter in South Florida that would be compatible with her father's health insurance.

"I put in a tremendous amount of time," Marx said. "By using Navigator, it speeds up the process."

- Christin Erazo,

South Florida News Service

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