Care at Home: An Ultimate Guide
Published September 8, 2021 by Francesca Robinson, MA
Care at Home: What Does It Entail?
While aging in place is often a great way for seniors to enjoy their twilight years, it takes a ton of planning. At some point, they cannot continue living at home alone or unassisted — especially if a spouse has passed on or they’re just as frail.
This is where in-home caregiving comes in.
While most family members, such as children or other relatives might be willing to take on the role of caregiver, it’s not always plausible, or healthy in the long term. For example, your loved one might need advanced medical care, mobility care, or physiotherapy that you might not be qualified to offer.
In-home caregiving services can offer all of the above, and much more. In a nutshell, home care provides your loved one with all the support services they need, for as long as they need them.
Whether it’s for just a few hours a day, or 24/7 care, an in-home caregiver allows seniors to age in place as independently as possible. In-home caregivers are qualified professionals. They include nurses, nurse aides, medical aides, therapists, and personal care assistants.
Quality of Life
The overall premise of care at home is to make sure a senior is as comfortable as possible. It also takes tremendous amounts of pressure and responsibility off the shoulders of a spouse or other family members.
In essence, it ensures your loved one can age in place in a safe and secure manner, with a sense of independence, in a familiar space they can call their own. It’s also a great way to avoid unnecessary hospitalization, aid in recovery from an illness or injury, and ease the management of chronic conditions.
Remember that in-home care is available for as long as you need it — whether it’s just a few weeks or months or a long-term commitment.
What Are the Types of In-Home Care?
Not all types of in-home care provide the same services. In short, you can tailor the home care you need, according to your loved one’s needs. It can include basic care services or a combination of a number of different services. It all depends on the overall health of a senior that chooses to age in place.
Some of the most common forms of in-home care include:
Companionship and Personal Care
This type of service is also called non-medical care, homemaker care, assistive care, or companion care. It’s ideal for a frail senior that lives alone at home but does not include any medical services. Here’s what you can expect from companion care:
- Basic self-care tasks such as bathing, dressing, and using the toilet
- Assistance with mobility or ambulation i.e. transferring from the bed to a wheelchair, etc., as well as fall prevention
- Meal planning and cooking, basic housekeeping, laundry, and transportation to appointments/errands
- Medication management/reminders
- Overall companionship and daily engagement in hobbies
- General supervision for those with degenerative conditions, such as dementia
This type of care is not medical in any way, therefore you do not need a doctor’s prescription or recommendation to hire these services. You can tailor companion care to your loved one’s needs — whether that’s 24-hours a day or just a few hours a day.
Private Nursing Care
This type of care is not as assistive but rather focuses on medical support. It’s also referred to as catastrophic care, nursing care, adult nursing, or long-term nursing care.
It’s ideal if your loved one has experienced an injury and needs medical assistance during their recovery. Or, they’re suffering from a serious, long-term illness. Some of the tasks you can expect:
- Nursing care of an array of conditions, including spinal cord injury, brain injury, ALS, and MS symptoms
- Professional ventilator and tracheostomy care
- Vital signs monitoring
- Medication management
- Feeding tube and catheter care
- Gastrostomy care
As you can see, this type of care is highly technical. You will need a medical professional’s prescription and recommendation for this type of nursing care at home. You can also find 24-hour nursing care for your loved one, if necessary.
Health Care at Home
Home health care is generally a short-term form of care. It’s also called Medicare-certified home health care or intermittent care. If your loved one needs to recover from an accident or illness and needs specific medical assistance, this is the type of care you need.
Some of the services include:
- General nursing services on a short-term basis
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Speech therapy and pathology
- Health aide services at home
- Social work
This is yet another form of care that requires a medical prescription from a relevant medical professional. You will receive home visits from specific medical professionals for the duration of an hour or so for as long as your loved one needs.
A Live-In Caregiver
A live-in caregiver is someone who physically lives in the home with your loved one on a long-term basis. They provide almost exactly the same services as companion care, except they commit to living in the home with your loved one.
The number of hours a live-in caregiver works depends on the extent of care that a senior needs. They are usually available for up to 16 hours per day and rest for a mandatory 8 hours (at night). However, they still respond to any and every need that may pop up throughout the night.
In some other cases, you can enlist the services of two live-in caregivers that work in 12-hours shifts and divide up the workweek between them. This is a good option for continuous care if your loved one needs 24-hour monitoring.
What Type of Care Do Most Seniors Need?
Some seniors may have good mobility and can move around the house with a cane or walker. While others might be frail and unable to complete simple ADLs (activities of daily living), such as using the toilet.
Here are some of the most common types of assistance that many seniors need as they age in place:
- Mobility assistance — moving from one room to the next without assistance
- Ambulation — moving from the bed to a wheelchair, wheelchair to the toilet, assistance with standing and sitting
- Personal care tasks such as using the toilet, bathing, dressing, and general grooming
- Local transportation — getting to and from appointments, running errands, attending social events, and grocery shopping
- Meal planning, cooking, and assistance with feeding
- Medication planning, management, and reminders
As mentioned, at-home care is highly individual. It really does depend on the general health of a senior and how much they can manage on their own. But if you’re enlisting the services of an in-home caregiver, this often means that a senior has reached a point where daily assistance is necessary.
What Is the Cost of Care at Home?
There are so many different variables that play into the cost of in-home care. For starters, it can vary from one state to the next, as well as the type of care a senior needs, the number of hours of care, etc. But for argument’s sake, here is a national average you can take into consideration:
You will pay about $21 per hour for a home care aid, but this can vary from $16-$34 per hour, based on location. This type of care is similar to companion care and covers basic daily tasks such as personal care, ambulation, mobility assistance, transportation, light cleaning, and meal planning.
It does not include medical or nursing services.
If your loved needs round the clock care, then you need to consider daily rates, rather than hourly rates. A daily rate also includes allowances for a caregiver to take time off. The average daily rate ranges from about $200-$350 per day. But this also depends on your location as well as how much specialized care your loved one needs.
Is In-Home Care Covered by Medicare?
While you may be wondering how to cover the costs of in-home care for a loved one, you don’t have to support them all on your own. If they have Medicare cover, you can claim for certain types of care.
Bear in mind that Medicare does not cover the costs of a live-in caregiver that works 24-hours a day. Neither do they cover personal care services. i.e. companion care, if those are the only services your loved one needs.
However, Medicare does cover nursing and skilled therapy care. As well as short-term home health aide services. But in order to qualify for this coverage, the services must be organized through a home health care agency.
Your loved one also needs to have a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement plan, also called Medigap.
Another silver lining is that Medicare also covers certain social services. If you or a loved one requires emotional counseling, you can claim this back through Medicare. The same goes for coverage of medical supplies and equipment.
Remember that nursing, skilled therapy, and home health aides do not provide the basic services of companion care or live-in caregiving. They are strictly permitted to offer medical-related services, and that’s all.
Preparing the Home for Safety’s Sake
Another extremely important consideration to keep in mind when a senior chooses to age in place is the overall safety of their home. If your loved one is frail, has poor mobility, compromised vision or hearing, you’ll have to make some adjustments to their home for safety’s sake.
But before you dive into the home renovations, you want to get some advice and expertise from a professional. This might include a geriatric care manager, an occupational or physical therapist, or even an in-home nurse. Some of the most important physical changes you’ll need to make include:
Fall and Slip Prevention
This includes basic changes such as removing slipping and tripping hazards such as throw rugs and adding grip rails to walls. It’s also a good idea to install automatic night lights along staircases and passageways.
Update Bathing and Toilet Facilities
You might need to add an adjustable toilet seat and handrails near the toilet. As well as a bath or shower seat, and non-slip bath mats, of course.
Reduce Dementia-Related Risk
Unfortunately, this condition comes with its own set of risks and hazards as it progresses. Those with dementia are prone to wandering at all hours of the day, so you want to install remote door locks to keep your loved one safe. It’s also a good idea to disable the stovetop when it’s not in use and regulate the home’s hot water temperature.
When it comes to mobility challenges, this may call for more extensive modifications. You might need to consider hiring a contractor to install wheelchair ramps, lower kitchen countertops, and widen doorways.
Become a Home Care Business Owner of Your Own
If you’re interested in breaking into the care at home business, then you’re in the right place. With Preferred Care at Home, you have the opportunity to buy your very own senior care franchise, assisting seniors in finding the perfect care for their needs.
As one of the fastest-growing businesses in America, you have a chance to be part of the journey too. Want to know more about becoming a Preferred Care at Home franchisee? Learn more here.
Find out if owning a senior care franchise is right for you.
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