Senior home health care is a formal, government-regulated service provided in the home to elderly, disabled and/or chronically ill people who need either physical care, such as nursing or physical therapy, or housekeeping services, such as help with bathing, dressing or meal preparation.
Who Provides Services?
Most home healthcare programs are administered by private home health agencies or organizations. These agencies are often certified by Medicare. Senior home health care organizations can help assess the needs of your family member and dispatch the appropriate, licensed medical staff such as a registered nurse, physical or occupational therapist, or home health aide to care for them.
Home care personnel can also be found through staffing agencies. These agencies only provide non-medical, housekeeping/companion staff. Aides will provide assistance with daily chores and caretaking activities but have no formal medical training or licensing. Such agencies may be licensed and monitored, depending on the state, and are responsible for maintaining their own standards of care.
For seniors who require nursing care, private medical staffing and private-duty firms can be a source of both nursing and companionship personnel. However, these firms are not generally regulated or licensed at the state level and have their own professional care standards.
What Are The Advantages Of Senior Home Health Care?
Senior home health care offers many advantages over other forms of long-term care. Providing care to the elderly in their home allows them to remain in familiar surroundings. This can help avoid the sometimes traumatic effects of moving into a new and foreign environment.
Home health care can also provide stability and consistency in care since only a single staff member or team of staff will be providing care to your loved one. This can foster a more personal relationship between patient and caregiver, enhancing the companionship benefit and improving a senior's mood and behavior.
How Can I Pay For It?
Some families will choose to pay for home healthcare using personal accounts or funds. However, there are several ways to fund home healthcare services using both public and/or private assistance.
Depending on the type of care and needs of the patient, some senior home health care programs are covered by government-sponsored medical plans such as Medicare and Medicaid, which can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs and make home healthcare a more affordable option. To learn more about whether your family member qualifies for Medicare-funded care, read Medicare's official booklet on home healthcare benefits.
Private health insurance plans may also cover some of the costs of senior home health care services depending on the type of plan and requirements. Some private insurance carriers even offer long-term care insurance policies, with provisions to specifically cover the costs of on-going, long-term care. However, coverage and eligibility can vary widely by plan.
Written by senior housing writer Jacqui Howell.