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Why And When To Use Home Care For Seniors
Written by Ken Teegardin SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver
To see a list of senior home care providers, enter your desired area (zip, city, or full address) in the search bar above and then click on the 'Home Care' button at the top to see only home care options in your area.
If you're like the majority of seniors, you probably want to live at home for as long as possible. You like your feeling of independence. The thought of paying for an assisted living facility makes your heart flutter.
But there are some activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, bathing driving or grocery shopping that can become difficult for some seniors.
In-home care provides seniors with home health care, non-medical care and even companionship. You keep your independence and your house. In-home care professionals come to you.
And with 78 million baby boomers starting to retire at a rate of 8,000 a day, the demand for in-home care will only increase, meaning more competition, better service and lower prices.
Why In-Home Care? One survey shows that 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible. Your home is where you're comfortable. It's what is familiar. It provides comfort. If you move out to an assisted living community or nursing home, you're starting over. You may have to room with a stranger.
With in-home care, you're able to remain as independent as you can be. Independence is a psychological boon, especially when the effects of aging are taking place.
For example, you have hip replacement surgery. And instead of heading to a nursing home for care, you go back home, where a physical therapist helps your recovery. And a home health aide tends to your home until you can. The surroundings are yours. You sleep in your bed. All of this familiarity can help with your recovery.
One study found that those who received in-home care visited the doctor 25% fewer times than those that didn't receive in-home care. Clients with Alzheimer's or other dementia diseases, made almost 50% less trips to the doctor.
Types of In-Home Care Not all in-home care is the same. There is service for any kind of need. For example, a man shows signs of Alzheimer's but is otherwise physically healthy. He may just need help with paying his bills, getting to appointments, etc. He won't necessarily need medical help yet.
Licensed medical professionals can include physicians, physician's assistants (PA), nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and some specialty home health aides who work under the direction of a physician.
A recent survey by Home Instead Senior Care of over 1,600 caregivers showed the following services used by clients:
60% used home-health nurses
59% used physical therapists
32% used occupational therapists
37% had at least one in-home visit from a PA or nurse practitioner
17% had an in-home visit from a physician
Non-medical paraprofessionals include as home health aides, personal care attendants, homemakers and companions. Home health aides provide hands-on care and assistance to with ADLs (see below). They can also help with cooking, shopping and laundry.
Homemakers or companions provide services such as light housekeeping, transportation, and companionship. These activities are known as instrumental ADLs (see below). People with Alzheimer's will often use a companion to assist them.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Walking or using a wheelchair
Who Receives In-Home Care? According to Home Instead Senior Care's survey of home care professionals, their clients fell into the following categories:
61% had mobility issues
48% were frail (muscle weakness, slow walking, exhaustion)
43% had some type of dementia
29% had Alzheimer's disease
22% were dealing with the after-effects of stroke
Costs of In-Home Care vs. Continuing Care If you're weighing the pros and cons of in-home care and continuing care (assisted living, nursing home, etc.), here are some numbers to think about. According to The2012 Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, these are the national averages for senior care:
Nursing Homes average $222 a day for a private room; $200 for a semi-private room.
Assisted living facilities ("typically include at least two meals per day, housekeeping, and personal care assistance, were obtained for one-bedroom apartments or private rooms with private baths in assisted living communities.") average $3,300 a month.
In-Home Care averages $19 an hour for health aides; $18 an hour for homemaker/companion. Additionally, 82% of home health care agencies provide Alzheimer's training to their employees and 99% don't charge an additional fee for patients with Alzheimer's. Most home care services require a minimum of 4 hours so the minimum cost is $76 /day.
In-home care can certainly be a lower cost solution to assisted living depending on the kind of care you need, and how many daily hours you need this care.
Summary For many seniors, in-home care is an alternative to assisted living that allows them to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Most providers are even trained to care for Alzheimer's clients.
If you or a loved one are considering in-home care services, search seniorliving.org's database for care providers in your neighborhood.