Is senior home care the solution you’re looking for to help you or your loved one stay home instead of going to an assisted living facility or nursing home? Home help for seniors is becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to age in place as long as possible.
There’s a lot to know about senior home care, though. What is it? How much does it cost? Will Medicare pay for it? How do you find the right caregiver? Here’s what you should know about home help for seniors.
What Is Senior Home Care?
Senior home care is non-medical home help for elderly people who need assistance with things like transportation, companionship, housekeeping, cooking, and activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, and toileting.
How Home Care Services Help You Age in Place
According to an AARP survey, 76% of Americans age 50 and older want to remain in their home as they age, but only 46% think they will actually be able to (1). Home care services help handle some of the tasks that seniors start to struggle with as they age, so they can remain independent longer.
-“76% of Americans age 50 and older want to remain in their home as they age, but only 46% think they will actually be able to.”
What Services Are Offered by Senior Home Care Organizations?
While each company may offer slightly different services, you can generally expect one or more of the following types of home care:
- Companion care provides companionship, light housekeeping, cooking, transportation, help with errands, and other basic caregiving tasks.
- Personal care offers the benefits of companion care plus assistance with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, feeding, and toileting.
- Respite care provides a break for people who otherwise care for their loved one full-time. That may be for a few hours each day while the primary caregiver works or a few days at a time if the primary caregiver goes out of town.
- Home health care includes things like nursing, medication management, physical therapy, speech therapy, and other medical care. While some home care organizations also offer home health care, many do not.
Who Can Benefit from Senior Home Care?
In general, people who benefit the most from elderly home care are seniors who:
- Struggle with mobility and need help getting around their home
- Need transportation to appointments, errands, and friends’ homes
- Have mild cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Need help with ADLs like toileting, bathing, and feeding
- Are isolated, lonely, and at risk for depression
- Need help with housekeeping, cooking, and other errands
Home Health vs. Home Care: What’s the Difference?
In short, home caregiver services offer non-medical assistance, while home health care provides medical care in the home. If it’s something you would usually have to go to a doctor for, it’s probably home health rather than home care.
What Are the Levels of Senior Care?
The levels of senior care, from the least to the most hands-on, are:
- Companion care, for seniors who need company and help with nonmedical tasks in their own home.
- Personal care, for those who also need assistance with ADLs at home.
- Home health care, for elderly people who are homebound and need medical care.
- Assisted Living Facility, for those who want to live in a place with all the services they need, assistance with ADLs and some medical care.
- Memory care, for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Nursing home, for seniors who need full-time care.
How Much Does Home Care Cost?
Home care costs vary widely across the country, from an average of $17 an hour in Louisiana to more than $31 an hour in Washington state. According to Genworth’s annual Cost of Care Survey, the nationwide average in 2020 was $23.50 for homemaker services and $24 an hour for home health aides (2).
If you or your loved one need help 44 hours a week or fewer, home health care is slightly more expensive than assisted living and much less than a nursing home. Based on 44 hours a week of home care, national monthly averages for each type of living situation are:
- Homemaker services: $4,481
- Home health aide: $4,576
- Assisted living facility: $4,300
- Nursing home (semi-private room): $7,756
- Nursing home (private room): $8,821
-“If you or your loved one need help 44 hours a week or fewer, home health care is less expensive than a nursing home.”
Does Medicare Pay for Senior Home Care?
No, Medicare Part A and B do not pay for home care if it is the only assistance you need (3). However, it may cover senior home care if you meet all these conditions:
- A doctor certifies that you are homebound, AND
- A doctor certifies that you need intermittent skilled nursing, speech-language pathology, physical therapy, or occupational therapy, AND
- You are getting services under a plan of care created and reviewed regularly by a doctor.
Some Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans may cover senior home care. Check your plan for details.
Finding the Right Home Care Services for You
It can be scary trying to select the perfect home caregiver services to suit your needs. Here are some questions the Mayo Clinic suggests asking any company or caregiver you are considering (4):
- Are you certified by Medicare to meet federal requirements for health and safety?
- Are you licensed by the state?
- How do you provide seniors with high-quality care?
- What type of employee screening do you do? Can I get references for anybody who might be caring for me or my loved one?
- What credentials does the aide have?
- Do you provide continuing education for your caregivers?
- How do you handle billing and expenses?
- What services will be provided?
How Do I Know if My Loved One Needs Home Care?
Although the signs will look different for everyone, here are a few signs that your loved one may benefit from home care:
- Reduced mobility
- Inability to drive
- Falls or other injuries or accidents
- Decreased muscle mass or other weight loss
- Increased forgetfulness
- Unkempt home, dirty clothing, poor personal hygiene
- Isolation or signs of loneliness
Loneliness alone should be enough reason to provide companion care for your loved one. According to Anthony D Ong, Bert N Uchino, and Elaine Wethington:
“Increasing evidence suggests that perceived social isolation or loneliness is a major risk factor for physical and mental illness in later life (5).”
If your loved one is ready for senior home care, contact us today. We’ll help you find the perfect solution to help them age in place and maintain their independence.
Senior Services Unlimited
6255 Knox Industrial Drive,
St. Louis, Missouri 63139
- AARP, 2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Ages 18-Plus, https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/community/info-2018/2018-home-community-preference.html
- Genworth, Cost of Care Survey (2020), https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html
- Medicare, Home Health Services, https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/home-health-services
- Mayo Clinic, Home Care Services: Questions to Ask, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/home-care-services/art-20044609
- Anthony D Ong, Bert N Uchino, and Elaine Wethington, Loneliness and Health in Older Adults: A Mini-Review and Synthesis, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26539997/
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