Home Health Care

Finding the right person to help you care for an aging parent doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a number of easy to use services to help you choose a qualified caregiver in your area.

See the Senior Care Services page for more information.

Many families struggle to care for their aging and ailing loved ones. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be especially difficult to manage on your own, especially when you’re busy trying to work a job and raise children.

Home health aides and personal and home care aides help elderly people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired and older adults, who require help with daily chores, continue living with more independence. Finding a good home aide for your aging loved one can postpone or eliminate the emotional and financial strain of moving into old age homes, (better known as long-term health facilities). If your loved one is physically or mentally disabled and requires more care than you can provide a home health aide can provide assistance part-time or full-time.

The aide usually performs daily tasks like laundry, making beds, food shopping and meal preparation. When required the aide will help the patient bathe, groom and dress for the day. Many home aides will escort clients to medical appointment and other short trips.

A good home health aide is a valuable part of the care team and provides emotional support to the elderly client. In addition to the everyday tasks and chores, the right home aide acts as a companion. Family members rely on the aide to keep their loved ones healthy and happy.

Finding The Right Help For Your Aging Parents

Your aide’s daily routine will vary base on their current assignments. Some may be attending full-time to a single patient while others may have to visit half a dozen clients in a single day. Many families struggle to provide care to their parents and grandparents while supporting their own young ones. Very often an aide is hired to fill in the gaps when family members are working or fulfilling other obligations.

What’s the difference between a health aides and personal and home care aides?

Both perform many similar tasks but a home health aide has a greater amount of training and / or certification.

Home health aides are often employed by certified home health agencies or hospice care agencies that are regulated by the government. Because of this home health aide typically works under the supervision of a medical professional. They work closely with therapists, nurses and other medical professionals.

A trained and qualified aide can assist with basic medical issues like monitoring blood pressure, temperature and other vitals. Simple health-related procedures like changing bandages and colostomy bags may be part of their responsibilities.

Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services, such as checking patients’ pulse rate, temperature, and respiration rate. They usually can help administer injections and administrate other medical procedures. Some may also help clients with complicated medical equipment like ventilators.

Personal and home care aids (also known as caregivers, companions, homemakers and personal attendants) typically work independently and usually have fewer medical credentials than a home health aide. They are in the home to perform daily chores and escort patients to doctor’s appointments. The elder companion will help make sure the client is taking prescribe meds and eating well.

Many families will hire an aide directly. This requires that the family members provide instruction, supervision and check the quality of care.

Very often the terms “home care” and “in-home care” are used to describe the same service. Home care will usually describe non-medical care and home healthcare will refer to someone with medical certification.

Certified Nurse’s Aids (CNA)

Home Health Aides (HHA)

To find a qualified nurse in your city, click here.

Home Health Care for Seniors

Quality home healthcare can help elderly people live independently despite medical conditions or disabilities. There are a wide range of services available to order adults that can help avoid the need for long-term nursing home stays.

Home health care professionals can help the elderly with everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene and adherence to prescriptions. Other services include occupational, speech and physical therapies, as well as skilled nursing.

Home Care and Home Health Care

Home care service providers will help seniors with daily chores like cleaning and shopping but do not usually render medical assistance. An elder companion is typically less expensive than a fully licensed medical professional. The companion can helps older adults navigate around the neighborhood to see friends which is critical to avoiding depression and despair that can result from being a shut-in.

Home health care professionals are licensed practical nurses, therapists, or home health aides. Many of them work for state licenses home health agencies, hospitals, or local public health departments.

If a medical doctor orders home care for a senior citizen Medicare will usually pay for it. Always consult a medical professional to help you determine the appropriate level of home care.

Finding Quality Home Health Care

One of the best ways to locate a quality home health care provider is by asking for referrals from your medical advisory team. Ask your family physician, geriatric specialist and hospital social services department.

Before hiring a home health care agency use these questions to help you choose the right service:

  • Are they approved by Medicare?
  • Are their services certified by the Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
  • How long have they been in business in your area?
  • Can they provide a rich and description of services and costs?
  • Will the agency to prepare a plan of care with input from the patient, doctor and family?
  • Does the plan of care provide a detailed outline of treatments in specific actions to be completed by each member of the care giving team?
  • Does the agency have a public Patients Bill Of Rights?”
  • How does the agency monitored for quality performance?
  • Will you have a dedicated manager to oversee home-care services?
  • What is the communication plan between the agency and the family? How often will family members be updated?
  • Does the agency have sufficient manpower to provide services seven days a week, 24 hours a day if the need should develop?
  • Will a nursing supervisor be available by telephone around-the-clock?
  • How does the healthcare agency ensure that patient confidentiality protected?
  • How are their employees screened, hired and trained?
  • Who is the “point person” to handle any problems? What is the agency’s complaint resolution procedure?
  • How is billing handled?
  • Its financial assistance available?
  • Will individual caregivers provide a list of references?
  • What is the backup plan should a scheduled caregiver become unavailable?

Finding a Senior Companion:

See Senior Companions on Care.com

Home health-care agencies add a layer of cost to hiring a senior companion. You can save money by negotiating directly with a home care provider but you’ll have to perform many of the functions of an agency yourself. If you are securing home health care directly from an individual and not an agency it is crucial that you thoroughly interview all candidates and check background references. Look for candidates that have a pattern of long-term stability and positive patient feedback. Personality conflicts are one of the most common complaints so look for someone that the patient can get along with.

Be very clear in describing the particular needs of your elderly loved one. One of the quickest ways to lose a good home health care worker is to surprise them with undisclosed job functions and expectations. Communication is key to a successful relationship between the patient, family and caregiver.

Always be on the lookout for a backup plan when caring for an elderly loved one. Your home care professional cannot be expected to work every day without a break. They will have their own family emergencies so be sure you have several other backup providers available at a moments notice. It’s best to interview a part-time or on-call person that can fill in when your primary help is not available.

Spend time with your newly hired care provider in the home with your elderly loved one. Help each of them get acclimated situation and act as a buffer to reduce the emotional impact of this dramatic change in the senior’s living condition. Being unable to care for yourself and having to depend upon others for basic needs is emotionally challenging and family and friends can help smooth the transition.

Inform the home care provider about any existing injuries or illnesses that the patient has and what symptoms may indicate a medical emergency. Give detailed written instructions and schedules for medications and treatments. Let the caregiver know about any likes, dislikes and quirks.  Alert them of any potential behavior problems. Provide a list all special nutritional needs and dietary restrictions.

  • Be sure to walk your care provider around the house and show them where they can find items like flashlights, light bulbs, cooking utensils and serving items.
  • Show them how to operate the homes electrical circuit breaker and emergency shutoff valves and switches.
  • It you are giving the care provider house keys make sure they work correctly. Show them how to properly lock up the house.

Place a stationary list of emergency contact numbers by telephone. Let the care provider know how to reach you, family members and friends.

How to Pay For Home Health Care

The cost of home health care varies across states and within states. In addition, costs will fluctuate depending on the type of health care professional required. Home care services can be paid for directly by the patient and his or her family members, or through a variety of public and private sources. Sources for home health care funding include Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, the Veterans’ Administration, and private insurance.

Medicare is the largest single payer of home care services. The Medicare program will pay for home health care if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The patient must be home-bound and under a doctor’s care;
  • The patient must need skilled nursing care, or occupational, physical, or speech therapy, on at least an intermittent basis (that is, regularly but not continuously)
  • The services provided must be under a doctor’s supervision and performed as part of a home health care plan written specifically for that patient
  • The patient must be eligible for the Medicare program and the services ordered must be “medically reasonable and necessary.”
  • The home health care agency providing the services must be certified by the Medicare program.

Source: eldercare.gov

To get help with your Medicare questions, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227, TTY/TDD: 1-877-486-2048 for the speech and hearing impaired) or look on the Internet at .


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