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Updated onMay. 18, 2022

Different Types Of Home Care

For some seniors, living independently requires a little extra help. These older adults may benefit from one or more types of home care. As the name suggests, home care is when a personal caregiver or medical professional comes directly to the patient’s home to provide service. Home care can range from high specialized care like a neurologist’s visit, to generalized care like companionship or housekeeping. Whatever you need to live alone with confidence, there is a home care professional to help. 

Home care is usually divided into three categories: non-medical personal care, private duty nursing care, and home health care. Here’s a breakdown of what each category entails. 

Caregiver helping an elderly woman with her walking aid outdoors in the grounds of the retirement home

Personal care professionals assist with the basic tasks of living like cooking and cleaning. These helpers are not medical professionals, but are trained to help with essential daily activities for those who struggle due to chronic illness, age, or disability. 

Services 

Some personal care professionals have more specialized training than others. Some may simply assist with tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning, while others are trained to help older adults with bathing or transferring from their bed to their wheelchair. In addition, some caregivers are simply hired to help provide companionship for an older adult who is unable to leave the house or requires stimulation to help prevent dementia. 

Personal care and companionship services do not require a prescription from a healthcare provider. It’s up to seniors and their family members to decide whether this care is necessary and arrange help. Seniors can also decide exactly which tasks they need assistance with and how many hours a week they’d like to have a personal caregiver. 

Nurses can help train family members to help care for seniors themselves. This can include teaching family to help with basic care procedures so that the family can live more independently at home.

Cost 

Like any personalized service, non-medical personal care for seniors comes at a cost. Older adults will certainly want to shop around and compare pricing before hiring a home caregiver. Unfortunately, most health insurance companies do not pay for this type of unskilled assistance; typically seniors pay for these services out of pocket. However, always check to see if you have coverage through your workers’ benefits, veterans’ benefits, or long-term care insurance. 

Finding A Caregiver

Letting someone into your home can be anxiety-inducing, especially if that person is performing intimate tasks like bathing, laundry, and cooking. So you’ll want to make sure that you pick the ideal home caregiver for you. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the world of personal non-medical care and find a great fit. 

Conduct An Interview

When it comes to hiring a companion or personal caregiver, personality is just as important as skill level and training. Make sure that the caregiver is someone you’ll enjoy spending time with and feel comfortable asking for help. 

Ask For Recommendations

If you have friends who have hired a personal caregiver, ask them who they would recommend. Community online forums like Next Door can also be a helpful in seeking recommendations for home care services. 

Check For Online Reviews

Websites like Angie’s List offer a place for customers to rate and review the professionals they hire, and this includes home care professionals. You’ll be able to read about other seniors’ experiences with both home care agencies and individuals, as well as seeing how much they charged for their service. 

Look For Certifications

For personal caregivers performing generalized tasks like cooking and housework, a certification may not be necessary. However, if you’re looking for someone to help with slightly more specialized work, like helping with bathing or transferring from a car to a wheelchair, you may want to look for a HHA (home health aide) or CNA (certified nursing assistant). 

Consider A Home Care Agency 

If finding a caregiver on your own seems like a daunting task, consider contacting a home health agency. These organizations can help you figure out exactly what type you need and can help arrange the ideal caregiver for you. They usually also perform background checks and drug tests on their employees to ensure they hire trustworthy caregivers. 

Give Your Loved Ones The Best Care

Caring for parents as they age is never easy. The help from home care services allows you to maintain your relationship while providing the best care possible.  

Find Caregivers

Nursing Care

Home nursing care, also known as long-term nursing or home-based skilled nursing, is for seniors who need medical care for a chronic condition or disability. Professionals who provide home-based nursing care are either RNs (registered nurses) or LPNs (licensed practical nurses). While they may help with basic tasks of living, they often provide more specialized medical care, like dressing a wound, administering shots, or monitoring vitals. 

Services

In-home nurses perform a wide range of services, depending on the needs of their patients. Some tasks may be quite basic, like trimming nails, assisting with bathing, and helping administer medications. Others may be much more skilled, like caring for patients who have a catheter, tracheostomy, or colostomy. They may also help facilitate healing in long-term wounds that require frequent dressing. 

Home-based nurses can also help monitor patient health. For example, they can help patients create a medication schedule and monitor bowel movements so that each patient’s health stays on track. 

In addition, nurses can help train family members to help care for seniors themselves. This can include teaching family to help with basic care procedures so that the family can live more independently at home. 

In-home nursing care certainly isn’t necessary for all seniors, but for those with chronic health issues, it may help tremendously. 

Cost

Because it relies on skilled medical professionals, in-home nursing care can be expensive. However, it may be worth the cost for patients who would like to avoid or shorten the length of their hospitalization. Always check with your health insurance provider as some private nursing services may be covered under your plan. Your work or veteran benefits may also provide assistance, as well as any long-term care insurance you may have. 

Caregiver providing food to elder women

Finding An In-Home Nurse

If you’re considering hiring an in-home nurse, it’s important to evaluate your options. Private nurses are available through agencies or for direct hire. Here are some considerations for deciding on a nurse.

If you’re relying on your Medicare, Medicaid, or your private health insurance to help with the cost of a nurse, make sure that you have a doctor’s order for in-home skilled nursing care. Many health insurance companies require this before covering the cost of nursing care.

Weigh the pros and cons of using an agency versus hiring a nurse directly. Agencies tend to cost more, but their employees are more likely to have gone through a background check and to have relevant in-home experience. Using an agency with a deep pool of nurses can help ensure you’re not left without a nurse if yours cancels. However, some seniors may prefer the flexibility and lower cost of an independent nurse. 

Home Health Care

Home health care is similar to nursing care, although it tends to focus on patients with short-term health problems like an illness or injury. In addition to nurses, home health care professionals can include physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech pathologists, and physicians. The goal of home health care is to help patients return to living independently.

Home health care may be helpful for seniors who have lived through a significant medical event but still need discernible care to return to their normal levels of self-sufficiency.

Services

Home health care must be prescribed by a doctor. Typically, a physician orders home health care to help a patient recover from a major health event like a stroke or heart attack. Once ordered, the physician and other medical team members will work to develop a plan of care. The health professionals will each visit the patient at home to assist with their part of the medical care. For example, if a senior has a stroke, they will likely need several different types of medical care, from a speech therapist to a physical therapist to a neurologist. Home health services are most often used to continue care after a patient is discharged from the hospital.

Home health care may be helpful for seniors who have lived through a significant medical event but still need discernible care to return to their normal levels of self-sufficiency. It can also be beneficial if the senior is not yet able to drive after their medical event or needs help coordinating care from a large team of medical professionals.

Give Your Loved Ones The Best Care

Caring for parents as they age is never easy. The help from home care services allows you to maintain your relationship while providing the best care possible.  

Find Caregivers

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Cost

The cost of home health care can be high, but luckily, much of the expense is covered by private health insurance or Medicare. However, in order to receive coverage, a doctor must determine that the patient needs home health care. Insurers may also require that the home health agency meets certain standards in order to qualify.

Finding A Home Health Care Agency

Once your doctor has ordered home health care as part of your recovery, you can begin the search for the right team. Here are a few considerations for choosing a home health care agency.

Make sure the agency qualifies for Medicare or is covered by your private insurance. You may ask your hospital healthcare team to recommend an agency before you’re discharged. You can also use online reviews as a guide to see if you company has positive reviews from previous patients. If you will need a personal caregiver to help with daily tasks in addition to your medical providers, make sure your agency also offers them.

Seniors who value their independence can benefit greatly from home care. Personal caregivers can assist seniors who need help with daily tasks like cooking, laundry, and bathing. In-home nurses can help older adults with chronic conditions to manage their health issues. Lastly, seniors recovering from a serious illness or hospital stay can use a home health care team to expedite their return to self-sufficiency. Whatever your specific needs, you’ll likely be able to find a solution in the growing field of home care.