Caring for loved ones can be both physically and financially exhausting. Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care Program can help alleviate some of those difficulties.

The Long-Term Care Program was put into place a little over a year ago to replace Medicaid and Nursing Home Diversion waivers and provide more services to the elderly.

“All the services are still there, but the program is just structured differently,” said Vidya Hogan, Elder Options Director of Consumer Services.

The services one might receive from this program range from homemaking to personal care or even respite care for caregivers.

Respite care services provide caregivers with a break from their role. It allows them to go out and run errands, go shopping or just do daily tasks that they normally would not have time to do while someone else stays and cares for their loved one.

“It’s a very important service for caregivers to be able to get out or even go take a nap and still have someone take care of their family,” Hogan said.

Elder Options provides an initial screening over the phone that places people on a wait list and prioritizes them for eligibility.

“We aren’t determining for eligibility at that point. We are just screening for need,” Hogan said. “Once there is funding available, the state looks at the most needy clients according to the telephone interview for medical and financial eligibility.”

The Department of Children and Families determines financial eligibility, and the Department of Elder Affairs determines medical eligibility.  Those who have fewer resources and support are given a higher need priority, according to Hogan.

“We are basically looking at people’s ability to do all the activities that we do everyday for ourselves and how much of it they can do themselves or with the help of family,” she said.

If you are not deemed eligible for the Long-Term Care program, there are other state and federal programs that could help. Elder Options also screens for Community Care for the Elderly, Home Care for the Elderly and the Older Americans Act.

The Medicare Savings Program and Low-Income Subsidy Program can also help with the cost of premiums and prescriptions for beneficiaries on limited incomes.

More information on this can be found by calling the Elder Helpline at 1-800-963-5337.

By Damaris Lopez