There are a variety of circumstances that can prompt an individual or family to consider home care for an aging loved one. Perhaps your mother has begun to forget to take her medication, or your dad doesn’t leave the house as much and is having more difficulty getting around.
You may also have noticed dramatic changes in an elderly loved one’s personality, which can be an indication of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Or, a loved one’s home may seem more disorganized and messy and you may be worried that they are not taking care of themselves.
In other cases, a loved one may have been released from the hospital to recuperate at home. However, as you research home care services, you realize there are a lot of options available, but the information regarding these services is confusing.
Home Health Care vs. Personal Care
The phrase “home care services” refers to a variety of specialized medical and non-medical services that can be provided to patients in their own homes.
Home Health Care
Home health care providers deliver skilled medical care to patients in their own homes. This includes:
- In-home nursing;
- Physical therapy; and
- Other kinds of skilled medical care prescribed by a doctor or other healthcare professional
Home health care is typically paid for by Medicare or other health insurance plans when it is very difficult or impossible for the patient to leave the home.
Personal care services provide non-medical assistance to individuals in their own homes. This only includes services that do not involve skilled medical care, such as:
- Light housekeeping
- Other in-home assistance that health insurance won’t usually pay for.
Personal home care assistance is most often paid for out-of-pocket or by Veteran’s benefits or private long-term care insurance.
Who Provides Home Care Services
Home care services may be provided by a family member, a friend, a paid professional, or any number of these together. The majority of paid home care service providers only offer personal care, while fewer offer skilled home health care.
However, a limited (but growing) number of agencies now offer both home health care and personal care. A big reason to go with one of these “full-service” agencies is that they offer a degree of consistency and coordination between the medical and non-medical care being provided that can easily be adjusted as the patient’s needs change.
The Benefits and Advantages of Home Care Services
Home care services offer an individual with needs the opportunity to stay at home while receiving care for those needs. Home care services are usually provided to individuals who are:
- Growing older
- Living with chronic illnesses
- Recovering from an accident, illness, or surgical procedure.
Often, other options, like moving an elderly loved one to a residential care facility, require making difficult sacrifices and huge lifestyle changes for both the patient and their caregivers. So, for many families, home care is the best solution because it allows their loved ones to stay in the comfort of their own homes and continue living as they are used to.
The various benefits of home care include the following:
- The care is given in the comfort of the patient’s home
- Home care is more affordable than in-patient care
- The home is a more convenient place for family and friends to visit
- Home care allows the patient to enjoy a great amount of freedom and independence;
- Patients feel safer in their own homes
- It decreases the rate of re-hospitalization; and
- It prevents or postpones the need for institutionalization
Also, instead of adjusting to the schedules and routines of a care facility, a home care service plan is customized to fit your loved one and family’s needs. Whether your loved one only needs help for a few hours per day or requires full-time live-in care, home care services are flexible and can be adapted to fit what is best for them.
Where to Find More Information on Home Care Services
Whether you or a loved one requires home health care or personal care, there are a variety of agencies that can provide the information you need to age comfortably and independently in your own home. For specific information on various home care service options, you can contact any of the following agencies directly:
- The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- The United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- The Aging Life Care Association
- The National Association for Home Care & Hospice
In addition, if you or a family member is considering home care services as part of a plan to age in place, contact a qualified elder law attorney for a consultation. An experienced elder law attorney can help you or a family member explore ways to enjoy life in the comfort of your own home for as long as possible.