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Home Health Care Aides: Who They Are and How They Can Help Your Family

8 minute readLast updated October 2, 2023
fact checkedon September 28, 2023
Written by Claire Samuels
Reviewed by Michael Ferraina, home health care executiveMichael Ferraina has 15+ years of home health care industry experience and focuses on growth strategies, business development, and team mentoring.
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A home care aide, sometimes called home health care aides, can provide support for your loved one who wishes to age at home. If you have noticed your aging loved increasingly struggle to complete everyday tasks like laundry, light cleaning, or meal preparation, a home care aide can help. Aides also provide companionship and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing and dressing. And often overlooked is the respite support home care aides can provide for family caregivers.

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What services do home care aides provide?

Home care aides can provide a variety of nonmedical supports to help your loved one age at home safely and maintain their independence. Home care aides are usually categorized into the following three types:

Companion care focuses on providing aging adults with emotional support, opportunities for socialization, and assistance with instrumental tasks of daily living, like cooking, shopping making appointments, and transportation.

Homemaker care provides assistance to seniors who live independently but need help with common chores such as laundry, cleaning, or even pet care.

Personal care services include assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and other hygiene needs.

Keep in mind that these different types can be combined to create a care plan that fits your loved one’s needs.

While these caregivers don’t provide the high level of care someone might receive in a hospital or nursing home, they are often present with a senior, able to monitor their general health, and call for help in the case of an emergency.  They may also be able to provide transitional home care after a stay in the hospital. They also offer families peace of mind that their aging loved one is well cared for.

Home health care nurses

Home health care offers medical support similar to what a senior would receive in a nursing home, or skilled nursing facility. This type of care differs from home care as it is provided by medical professionals with nursing degrees ranging from CNAs to registered nurses (RNs). Home health care is generally prescribed by a doctor after a hospital stay for patients who are recovering from an injury or an illness.

Because short-term home health care is often covered by insurance, it’s common for the prescribing doctor to recommend home health care agencies that accept payment from the patient’s health insurance provider. Families can also choose to find a home health care provider independently.

Depending on your relative’s needs, the services home health care nurses provide may include the following:

  • Wound care
  • Medication administration
  • Ostomy care
  • Postsurgical care
  • Treatment of bedsores
  • Intravenous therapies or nutrition administration
  • Monitoring of vital signs
  • Assessment of complex medical conditions

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

How much does it cost to hire a home health care aide?

The median hourly cost of a home health care aide in the U.S. is $30, according to A Place for Mom’s proprietary data.

How to pay for a home health care aide

Most families pay for home care aides out of pocket. However, there are multiple ways to pay for in-home care. Based on your loved one’s needs, some aspects of medical care may be covered by insurance.

  • Medicare doesn’t cover nonmedical home care services like ADL assistance and housekeeping alone. However, these services may be covered if a patient is receiving home health care services prescribed by a doctor. Medical equipment, bandages, and other necessary devices may also be covered.
  • Long-term care insurance may cover some aspects of home health care. Check with your loved one’s insurance provider for more information.
  • Medicaid may cover some home care services in some states for income-qualifying seniors.
  • The VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, household allowance, and other benefits may provide monthly payments to qualifying veterans and spouses to help cover home care services.

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Four steps to find caregivers for home care

You can hire a home health care aide either through an agency or privately. Follow these steps to find a home care aide that is a  good fit for your loved one.

  1. Determine your loved one’s needs. Review the descriptions of home care above to explore which type of care is best for your family. Does your loved one need companionship and a few hours of help with household activities, or do you feel unsafe leaving them home alone? Do they need support after a hip replacement?
  2. Consider your family’s budget. Before you reach out to home care providers, it’s a good idea to get a sense of your loved one’s finances. Do they have assets or savings in the bank? Are you and other family members prepared to pay for their care? Do any of the insurance options or benefits listed above apply to your relative?
  3. Decide if you’re looking for a private caregiver or an agency. There are pros and cons to both agency and private caregivers. With an agency, you won’t have to worry about payroll, taxes, licensing, or background checks. However, an independent caregiver may cost less, and you may have more say in who cares for your loved one.
  4. Determine your priorities, and interview providers. Work with your loved one to understand their top priorities for a home care aide. Consider preferences for activities, language, gender, and household needs. Develop a list of questions, and be ready to answer any questions the agency or caregiver may ask.

Reach out to A Place for Mom if you aren’t sure where to start. Hiring a home care or home health care aide can be a complicated process. As you determine your loved one’s needs and explore the different care types, you may want a partner to guide you along the way. A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors can help connect you with local home care agencies, talk through your priorities, and offer financial consultation, all at no cost to you.

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Meet the Author
Claire Samuels

Claire Samuels is a former senior copywriter at A Place for Mom, where she helped guide families through the dementia and memory care journey. Before transitioning to writing, she gained industry insight as an account executive for senior living communities across the Midwest. She holds a degree from Davidson College.

Edited by

Danny Szlauderbach

Reviewed by

Michael Ferraina, home health care executive

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

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