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Home care provides care services within an individual’s residence. Care at home best serves seniors who want to age in place but require support with chores and activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing and bathing.
In-home care services are customized to meet a senior’s unique needs. While some older adults may rely on home care providers for help with errands, cooking, and housekeeping, others need more intensive care in their home to manage incontinence, mobility issues, or dementia. Home care may increase peace of mind for family members, enhance senior safety, and result in a deeper, one-on-one bond between a senior and their caregiver.Back to top
Home care may offer a source of support for your aging loved one and peace of mind for you and your family. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s safety, emotional well-being, or ability to perform daily tasks independently, consider the following advantages of home care:
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Home care aides administer a wide range of nonmedical services to help seniors preserve or improve their quality of life at home. For older adults who prefer to age in place or those who aren’t ready to transition to senior living, home care can help fill care gaps and simplify their day-to-day routine.
Seniors aging at home can have a range of needs, so nonmedical home care is broken down into three types:
It’s important to note that these types of care don’t need to be provided separately. For example, if a senior needs assistance with ADLs, their care plan may combine both personal care and homemaker services. Or maybe a family caregiver can provide personal care for their loved one but needs assistance with cleaning and laundry. Home care offers the flexibility many families need when caring for their aging loved ones.
While they sound similar, there’s a distinct difference between home care and home health care. Home health care is medical care that’s prescribed by a doctor and provided by licensed professionals such as registered nurses and occupational or physical therapists. While this guide focuses on nonmedical in-home care, it’s important to understand how the services differ.
The following table offers a comparison of the two care types:
|Services||Home care||Home health care|
|Meal delivery or preparation|
|Transportation to social events|
|Help with ADLs|
|Recording health data|
|Licensed physical therapy|
It’s important to note that home care and home health care services may be provided simultaneously when a patient’s doctor determines these services are necessary for their safety and well-being.Back to top
It may be time for senior home care if your family member regularly needs assistance with daily chores and activities, or if you’re worried about their safety. Signs a senior needs help at home can include:
It’s also important to consider your own needs. Common signs of caregiver burnout include:
Home care can be a good fit for many seniors who want to age in place. However, it’s important to be realistic about your loved one’s needs and the cost of care. For seniors who require eight or more hours of care per day, home care costs may exceed those of many senior living options. Plus, a community setting may be able to offer a higher level of care and a wider variety of services and amenities.Back to top
Like home care, assisted living communities and memory care communities can provide assistance with ADLs, companionship, meals, light housekeeping, transportation, and much more. And while home care is an excellent option for seniors who prefer to age in place, costs can become prohibitive in the long term — especially as care needs change over time. For seniors who require help on a daily basis, senior living is typically a more affordable option.
As you explore which type of care is the right fit for your loved one, think about these important considerations:
Memory care is generally offered in stand-alone facilities or in senior living communities with multiple levels of care. Like other senior living options, memory care communities provide meals, scheduled activities, and assistance with ADLs, as well as private rooms and staff supervision. They also offer unique assistance for seniors experiencing memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
The main difference between memory care and home care for dementia is the space where care occurs. Memory care communities feature increased security and activity areas that are designed to provide stimulation for seniors living with dementia. While some home care aides have dementia-specific training, private homes often need to be modified to offer the same level of safety as a memory care community.
With the assistance of home care aides, seniors living with early- to mid-stage dementia may be capable of aging in their own homes. It’s important to select a home care provider who’s familiar with dementia behaviors. Caregivers with dementia-specific training will be able to facilitate activities that may help slow cognitive decline and comfort seniors experiencing memory loss.
Benefits of home care for dementia include:
The median cost of hiring a home care aide in the U.S. is $30 per hour, according to A Place for Mom’s proprietary data. Because home care is highly personalized, the cost of home care often depends on the level of assistance your senior loved one needs. Where your loved one lives may also affect this estimate.
While it’s typical for home care agencies to charge by the hour, negotiating a monthly or annual contract may allow for discounted prices. To account for costs like transportation and staffing, most home care agencies have a minimum weekly or monthly hour requirement. Caregivers with specialized skills, like dementia-specific training, will often be more expensive to hire.
The personalized care arrangements of 24/7 home care come with different costs but in most cases are based on standard hourly home care rates. When evaluating the cost of 24/7 in-home care, families should make sure to define their care expectations. Some families expect 24/7 care to mean that multiple aides work in shifts to provide round-the-clock assistance, while others may decide to employ one live-in caregiver who’s entitled to regular breaks.
Cost can play a major role in determining if care at home is a viable solution for your loved one. A primary benefit of home care is its flexibility: It can be an affordable option for seniors who don’t require a high level of care, and for families who have the ability to share some of the care responsibilities. However, living in a senior community may be less expensive if your loved one has advanced care needs or requires many hours of care.
The difference between home care and assisted living is often cost, and a good way to highlight the differences is with a cost comparison. If you estimate your loved one requires eight hours of care per day, the median cost of home care is about $5,300 per month, whereas assisted living costs around $4,800 per month. This data is based on the actual costs families have paid for long-term care at A Place for Mom’s partner communities.
It’s important to consider that the cost of home care doesn’t account for living expenses such as a mortgage payment, rent, utilities, and meals. Assisted living costs include rent, meals, housekeeping, and most care services.
The median monthly cost of other care types are as follows:
Assistance for seniors living at home can be expensive, but there are several payment sources that can help cover home care costs. Most families pay for senior care by using multiple payment methods, including:
When hiring an in-home caregiver for a family member, remember that this person will be your loved one’s companion and main source of support. Families can choose to hire through a home care agency or an independent caregiver, and each has its own benefits, but ultimately it’s important to find a caregiver who instills confidence that they will provide your loved one with comfort and a high quality of care.
Hiring a caregiver through a home care agency typically costs more and may require a minimum number of weekly hours, but there are several advantages:
Hiring an independent caregiver often means more work for a family. This may include tasks like running a background check, verifying references, and handling payroll. If an independent caregiver gets sick, a family member will have to find a replacement or stay home with the senior themselves.
Despite these drawbacks, many families still choose to hire personal caregivers due to several positive factors including:
When coordinating care through a home care agency, consider asking questions like what licensing and certifications the company requires and what types of training caregivers must undergo. If your loved one has a specific need — like help with transfers — let the agency know, so that your loved one receives care from someone with expertise in that area.
If you’re considering hiring an independent caregiver, find the right fit by considering these essential questions:
In-home care can provide the assistance your senior loved one needs to live at home safely, but keeping up with their changing care needs and associated costs as they age can be complicated. A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors can help simplify the search for home care by connecting you with local agencies that fit both your loved one’s needs and budget.Back to top
Home care relies on trained aides to provide companionship and non-medical care for seniors living at home.
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