Home Health Care Options for Seniors

Home health care. Nursing care. Home care. Assistive care. Visiting nurses.

If you are confused when you hear these terms, you’re not alone. 

There is a whole industry of care providers that help older people stay safe and healthy in their homes. The terms vary across and within states, so it’s not always easy to know which people help with which problem. The language used to describe various caregiving services is clunky at best.

To keep it simple, we’ll call at-home care provided by licensed health professionals home health care. Other at-home care services we’ll call home care. 

What is Home Health Care?

Home health care is provided by registered and licensed nurses and therapists. 

There may be any number of reasons you might need home health care services. Let’s look at a few scenarios.

  • You’ve had surgery and you need follow-up care from a nurse to check your vitals and make sure you’re healing properly.
  • You’ve fallen and need physical therapy to build up your strength.
  • You’ve had a stroke and need physical, occupational and /or speech therapy to recover functioning in affected areas.
  • You have a wound that needs medical attention to prevent infection.
  • You have a chronic health condition that requires in-home services.

It’s very common to have home health care after any visit to the emergency room. Home health care often follows hospital and rehabilitation stays as well. 

How Often Will I Receive Home Health Care?

Visiting medical services are prescribed for varying lengths of time. Some services are based on typical recovery times and outcomes. Others are dependent on the severity of the needs. The duration of home health care services depends on a patient’s unique situation. 

For example, nursing services for wound care continue until the wound is healed. In some instances, a nurse may close out services if their patient can clean and change the bandages on their own. 

Occupational and physical therapy are sometimes contingent on progress being made with services. In other words, if there is no improvement in the patients’ condition, the therapists may make suggestions for a different treatment regimen. 

Someone recovering from a car accident may need home medical care for a lengthy period of time.

Whatever your situation, don’t be afraid to ask questions and push for more services if you need them.

What Exactly is Home Care?

Home care providers offer in-home services that help seniors with daily living tasks. Home care workers can:

  • Cook meals. 
  • Do laundry.
  • Go grocery shopping.
  • Run errands.
  • Clean bathrooms, floors, kitchens, etc. 
  • Straighten or organize belongings.
  • Help with personal care such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.

Getting help with these tasks enables seniors to continue to live on their own.

A quality home care agency will conduct a needs assessment and create a care plan. The care plan should address all non-medical aspects of assistance needed. 

Home Care Workers Provide Companionship

One of the most beneficial parts of having home care is the consistent social interaction it provides for the client. Social isolation is a serious health concern for many older people. 

When coming up with a care plan with an elder services agency, be sure to ask specifically for the plan to include time for visiting and companionship. 

Where Can I Find Home Care Providers?

Chances are good that your primary care doctor has one or two home care agencies they recommend. Home care agencies often work closely with local doctors’ offices to address care issues. 

Your local senior center or council on aging should also be able to give you referrals to quality organizations. 

Ask friends and family who work with agencies about their experience. 

You can also find people who provide home services outside of an agency. This can sometimes be a more affordable option. It’s a trade-off, though. If you go this route, you are essentially that person’s employer which can create more paperwork and headaches for you. Also, you won’t have the benefit of someone else overseeing that person’s performance. 

How Will I Pay for Home Health Care and Home Care?

Medicare and most insurance plans cover home health care when prescribed by a physician. You may have a co-pay depending on your plan coverage. 

Home care is not covered by Medicare or health insurance. Depending on the state you live in, home care services may be offset by state Elder Care Office funding. Some agencies offer a sliding scale based upon income.


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