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Home Care Services for Seniors: Features and Benefits

By Claire SamuelsDecember 1, 2021
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Nearly three-quarters of elderly adults wish to stay in their homes as they age, according to research from AARP. However, decreased mobility, trouble completing household tasks, and cognitive decline can make aging at home difficult and unsafe for seniors.

Home care is nonmedical help from caregivers or aides in your home. It may offer an ideal compromise for older adults who need assistance with daily living but aren’t ready to move to assisted living or another type of long-term care community — and it can provide essential support for family caregivers.

Learn about the potential benefits of home care services for seniors to determine what’s right for you and your aging loved one.

In-home care services for seniors

Home care, or in-home care, services vary greatly and range from housekeeping to assistance with personal care. For example, some seniors may need occasional help with transportation and meal prep. Others who require incontinence care, have dementia, or need mobility assistance — but don’t wish to make the transition to senior living — may need full-time personal care and help around the house.

Home care services, tailored to an individual, may include:

  • Companionship and social interaction
  • Assistance with bathing, showering, and other grooming practices
  • Shopping and running errands
  • Cooking, lessons on nutrition, and meal preparation
  • Cleaning and housekeeping
  • Transportation to errands, activities, or appointments
  • Note taking at medical appointments
  • Mobility assistance and transfers from wheelchair to bed
  • Scheduled toileting and incontinence care
  • Medication management and scheduling
  • Cognitive stimulation and activities
  • Monitoring and reporting changes in behavior or symptoms

Depending on services needed, the amount of home care someone receives can be as little as a few hours a week to full-time care. Generally, recipients pay for services by the hour, and agencies or private caregivers set costs for home care.

Who provides home care services for seniors?

Home care aides, sometimes called personal care aides, often have some level of senior caregiver training. While they aren’t registered nurses, they may receive training in helping with activities of daily living (ADLs), assistance with mobility, emergency procedures, general health, and behavior monitoring. 

Different states have different training requirements for in-home caregivers. Some states, like Alabama, have no mandatory licensing, while others, like Washington, require a companion/caregiver business license for all in-home caregivers and certified nursing assistant training for anyone hired by an agency. See this caregiver training requirements chart to learn your state’s policies.

State requirements apply to all caregivers, but most home care agencies have their own training policies for potential clients to review. This is one benefit of hiring anagency caregiver rather than a private caregiver. Agencies also provide background checks, insurance policies, and continuing education.

If your aging loved one struggles with dementia, look for a home care aide with a history of caring for seniors with cognitive decline. Many home care agencies provide specialized training in dementia care, mental stimulation, and activities for older adults experiencing memory loss.

Benefits of home senior care: Who does it help?

Seniors aging in place and their primary caregivers both may experience the benefits of home care.

In-home care can help aging adults who:

  • Desire companionship, mental stimulation, or feel isolated at home. People who regularly engage in meaningful, productive activities with others have a greater sense of purpose, experience improvements in mood, and tend to live longer, as recognized by the CDC. Having a home care aide that can accompany seniors on trips out of the house or engage in their favorite activities with them can help combat feelings of isolation and provide valuable mental stimulation.
  • Need help with ADLs. Having an in-home caregiver available to lend a hand with basic tasks such as bathing, dressing, and toileting can help keep aging loved ones both healthy and safe. Other tasks, such as medication management, doing laundry, and using communication devices are all tasks that often require a prompt response, and the assistance of a home care aide can help tremendously.
  • Are active and independent, but need transportation to and from medical appointments or activities. As we age, changes in vision, hearing, and cognitive functioning (memory, for example) can put older drivers at a higher risk of driving-related injuries. With the help of a home care aide, seniors can get to and from their destinations with ease.
  • Want help with cleaning, cooking, and other household chores. As loved ones age, the work that goes into maintaining a clean and tidy home, keeping a well-stocked kitchen, and preparing meals may simply be beyond their physical abilities. With the help of a home care aide, seniors can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of an organized, hygienic home and nutritious meals.

In-home care can benefit family caregivers who:

  • Work and need daytime supervision for an aging relative. Many aspects of caregiving require timely intervention, such as assistance with ADLs and transportation to appointments. With the help of coordinated home care, you can rest easy knowing your loved one’s needs are being met without stressing over the need to request time off.  
  • Need temporary respite care to avoid caregiver burnout. Taking time to tend to your needs as a caregiver is essential in reducing caregiver stress and maintaining your own health — both mentally and physically.
  • Care for both children and aging parents as members of the sandwich generation. Nearly three-quarters of this generation balance caregiving duties, at an average of 21 hours a week, on top of their full-time jobs. That’s a lot for one person to take on, and outsourcing even just a fraction of the workload to an in-home caregiver can be immensely helpful.
  • Worry about their loved one feeling isolated or experiencing cognitive decline. Having concerns for their level of socialization and cognitive engagement is perfectly normal, and finding ways to balance those needs with your own is crucial in combatting feelings of guilt.
  • Think their loved one may be in danger staying home alone. Aside from taking home safety steps for seniors, knowing there is someone checking in on your loved one throughout the day — and the peace of mind that it brings — is one of the greatest benefits of home senior care.

Is there a difference between in-home care and home health care?

Prescribed by a physician, home health care is different from in-home care and is provided by licensed medical professionals. As part of a health care plan, home health care is generally paid for by Medicare or private health insurance, while in-home care is generally covered by private pay. 

Home care aides may provide minor medical services like medication management, blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring, and regular movement for bedsore prevention, but most aides aren’t licensed to provide medical services. If your loved one needs assistance with a chronic condition or severe injury, they may reap the most benefits of home health care combined with home care services.

More questions?

Ask an A Place for Mom local advisor at no cost.

How to find a home care aide near you

If you think home care may be the right fit for your family, you can reach out to A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors for a free consultation about in-home care options near you. 

Our Senior Living Advisors can help you compare care types, review local in-home care service providers, discuss ways to pay for care, and schedule interviews with potential care providers. From sending in-home care resources to answering all your questions regarding senior living, we’re here to assist with you every step of the way.

Sources

AARP. “2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Ages 18-Plus.”

AARP. “Is it Time for Your Loved One to Retire From Driving?”

National Institute on Aging. “Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks.”

Perspectives on Psychological Science. “Loneliness: clinical import and interventions.”

Rush University. “Health Benefits of Cleaning.”

UpToDate. “Diagnosis and management of late-life unipolar depression.”

UpToDate. “Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for depressed adults: Specific interventions and techniques.”

Author
Claire Samuels

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