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As head of Homeland Center, Ramper, a past Harrisburg Rotary president, has worked with families whose loved ones need a broad range of services. Celebrating its 150th anniversary, Homeland is still located on its original Fifth Street site and offers personal and skilled care and rehabilitation services. A special unit provides a supportive environment to help those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. 

Homeland’s outreach services include in-home care and hospice. Homeland HomeCare will assist seniors with daily tasks such as meal preparation and transportation, while Homeland HomeHealth will provide doctor-ordered medical assistance, ranging from providing intravenous therapy and other medications to physical therapy. Homeland Hospice, which serves 13 counties, in 2016 became the only service in central Pennsylvania to offer a dedicated pediatric hospice program.

From the federal government – which did not go far enough in the latest health care legislation – to individuals, Ramper said the natural inclination is to keep putting off making tough choices about aging. But with the average U.S. adult paying $1,074 annually for medical costs and the senior population expected to increase by 50 percent by 2030, senior care issues must be addressed now, he said.

Too often individuals put off making decisions about care should they become seriously ill because they think it’s something to face when they’re older, he said.

“If you do not make wise choices you may very well find yourself at the point where you will not be able to have the time to make decisions to have another course and direction for yourself,’’ Ramper said. “Can this be a moment where it’s only going to happen to you because you are a senior? No.’’ 

Ramper said he’s seen cases involving people in their early and mid-20s who have suffered injuries from automobile accidents that have left them virtually incapacitated. One man in his 20s hit his head on the steering wheel while only traveling around 18 mph – but it still left him completely unable to make decisions on his own; if left alone in a room, he would stand in the same place all day.

For those who have purchased long-term care policies, Ramper advised taking a close look to make sure the coverage is what you expect. He’s seen families surprised following an incident to discover they aren’t covered, despite years of paying premiums.

“I would expect none of you are going to tell me that at my last family gathering I sat them all together and said let’s have a discussion about the day when I am no longer able to care for myself. Let’s talk about the day that you either are or are not going to participate in what I need in my life,’’ Ramper said.

“If any of you look at me and say I’ve done that, you will be the first, because that’s not how we prepare,’’ he said. “But it’s a reality, and we can’t turn from it. If you don’t prepare, others will be making these decisions for you.’’