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Home Care Services for Seniors: Features and Benefits

Claire Samuels
By Claire SamuelsSeptember 9, 2020
Home care provider taking care of elderly woman in bed.

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 non-medical 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 an assisted living or long-term care community. Learn about services and benefits of in-home care to determine if it’s right for you and your aging loved one.

In-home care services for older adults

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.

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

  •       Companionship and social interaction
  •       Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  •       Shopping and running errands
  •       Cooking, information about nutrition, and meal preparation
  •       Cleaning and housekeeping
  •       Transportation to doctor’s appointments or activities
  •       Mobility assistance
  • Incontinence care
  •       Schedule and medication management
  •       Cognitive stimulation and activities

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, services are paid for by the hour. Home care costs are set by home care agencies or private caregivers.

Who provides home care services for seniors?

Home care aides, sometimes called personal care aides, often have some level of senior caregiver training. While not professional nurses, they may receive training in helping with ADLs, assistance with mobility, emergency procedures, general health, and behavior monitoring. 

Different states have different training requirements for in-home caregivers. Some, like Alabama, have no mandatory licensing. 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 an agency 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 care: Who does it help?

Seniors aging in place and family members who care for older loved ones in their homes may experience the benefits of home care.

Home care can help aging adults who:

  • Desire companionship, mental stimulation, or feel isolated at home
  • Need help with daily self-care tasks, such as grooming, bathing, or using the toilet
  • Are active and independent, but need transportation to and from medical appointments or activities
  • Would like help with cleaning, cooking, and other household chores

In-home care can benefit family caregivers who:

  • Work and need daytime supervision for an aging relative
  • Need temporary respite care to avoid caregiver burnout
  • Care for both children and aging parents as members of the sandwich generation
  • Think their loved one may be in danger staying home alone
  • Believe their aging relative needs interaction or stimulation from someone familiar with senior care or cognitive decline

The difference between in-home care and home health care

Home health is different from home care. Home health is provided by licensed medical professionals and is prescribed by a physician. Part of a health care plan, home health is generally paid for by Medicare or private health insurance. In-home care is generally covered by private pay. 

Most home care aides aren’t licensed to provide medical services, though some may be certified nursing assistants. If your loved one needs assistance with a chronic condition or severe injury, home care services and the benefits of home health can be combined. Health professionals provide medical services, while home care aides assist with everyday activities.

Home care aides may provide minor medical services like medication management, blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring, and regular movement for bedsore prevention. If your loved one needs any of these services, confirm with the agencies you interview that they’re available.

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

Claire Samuels
Author
Claire Samuels

Claire Samuels is a content writer at A Place for Mom. She worked with senior living communities throughout the Midwest before pivoting to writing. She’s passionate about sharing ways of living well at any age.

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