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An Alternative to a Nursing Home

Choices enrolls 7,000 Medicaid patients in first year of providing home-based care

Tennessee State Page News March 2011 AARP Bulletin

Steve Witt, director of the Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, explains the Choices program, which provides in-home services, to parishioners at the Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church in Chattanooga. — Bryan Anselm

The number of people who will require long-term services is expected to triple in Tennessee in the coming decades, but the biggest challenge for the program, which has no waiting list, is getting the word out to those who could benefit, said Margot Seay, AARP state president.

In King's case, the program sends someone once a week to clean and perform household chores. It delivers one meal a day, Monday through Friday.

The program has also installed a personal emergency response system, which allows King to press a button if she needs assistance, and the service will contact Caldwell or emergency responders.

Some weeks, when needed, Choices provides more assistance in helping with daily dressing or other activities.

In the future, it may provide respite care for Caldwell, a grandmother who rarely leaves their hometown because of her caregiver responsibilities for her mother.

Choices "doesn't replace the care we're giving her," Caldwell said. "It just helps her and eases the burden a little for me and my husband. The people in the Choices program have been a blessing to us."

For more information, call 1-866-836-6678 toll-free.

Anita Wadhwani is a reporter based in Nashville.

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