Whether recovering from surgery or illness, or just generally decreased ability and mobility due to aging, home care and home health care can provide loved ones with the independence and dignity and comfort of living and recovering in their own home.
Elderly home care also provides families and friends with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is taken care of. As more and more families and friends take on the caregiver role and try to balance their family’s needs and those of their loved one, home care and home health care providers will become an even more integral part of these family health care dynamics.
While in-home health care appears to be a recent phenomenon, it has actually been around since the 1880s. Currently, nearly 12 million people receive care from home health care providers (NAHCH).
Home Care vs. Home Health Care
Basically, home care and home health care is care that is provided by someone who comes to your loved one’s home to help look after their individual needs. But it is the extent of care needed that makes the difference between whether one needs home care or home health care.
Home health care is more medically oriented and often provided by registered nurses, therapists and home health aides who are licensed by the state. Home care, however, involves help with chores such as housecleaning services and other household coping issues.
The cost of elderly care at home varies from state to state and even within states, and will be determined by how much elderly care is required. Medicare, Medicaid, the Older American Act, the Veterans’ Administration and private insurance all provide some form of funding for home health care services for seniors.
According to John Hancock’s 2011 Cost of Care Survey, in-home health care can cost approximately $2000 less per year than an assisted living facility and nearly $50,000 less per year than a private nursing home room.
Moving from Family Care to In-Home Care
Obviously, there are many emotions surrounding this time and the decisions that need to be made for the well-being of everyone. To ease the transition and stress of the anticipated changes associated with elderly care at home, “talk with your elderly parents gently and honestly about their wishes, their abilities and their options ... these conversations ... put the adult child in a better position to make decision later when the parent may not be able to do so ...” (U.S. Department of State) You can also:
• Share your own feelings and reassure your loved one that they can still depend on you.
• Keep your loved one as involved as possible in the decision-making process and make an effort to respect and honor their wishes when possible.
• Plan the change in small, baby-step increments where possible so it’s easier for your loved one to accept and adjust to the change.
• Learn what you can and all that is available about legal, financial and medical matters regarding your parent and their background so you know what challenges to expect and rights you have.
• Learn when to be selfish and be honest about your needs. Be honest with your loved one(s) about your time and energy limits and capabilities. (U.S. Department of State)
No change comes without conflict or some form of hiccup or resistance. You may be in a position where you need to make an “executive” decision on in-home care even if your loved one completely disagrees.
There is a natural grieving process on both sides when we acknowledge that we need help and that we are unable to care for our loved one in the way that they need.
There are many resources out there to help with this transition and to help you choose the best in-home health care provider for your elderly loved one — don’t be afraid to take advantage of them.
Basic Statistics about Home Care. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice. Web. Jan 30, 2012.
What is Home Care? Home Instead Senior Care. Web. Jan 30, 2012. http://www.homeinstead.com/services/Pages/WhatisHomeCare.aspx
Caring for Elderly Parents. U.S. Department of State. Web. Jan 30, 2012. http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c23141.htm
Home Health Care. Eldercare. Web. Jan 30, 2012. http://www.eldercare.gov/ELDERCARE.NET/Public/Resources/Factsheets/Home_Health_Care.aspx
Benefits of Senior/Elder Home Care Services. HomeCare4Seniors. Web. Jan 30, 2012.
John Hancock Announces Results of 2011 National Long-Term Care (LTC) Cost Study. John Hancock. Web. Jan 30, 2012, http://www.johnhancock.com/about/news_details.php?fn=apr2011-text&yr=2011
Reviewed January 30, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith