What is home care?

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 01, 2011

Home care is a seemingly simple phrase which encompasses a myriad of health and social services.  The majority of these home care services are devoted to delivering in-home help to those elderly disabled or ill seniors who need medical, nursing or social treatments as well as assistance with day-to-day living activities. For seniors who want to remain in their own home, but need a type of ongoing care which family and friends are unable to provide, home care agencies can be an invaluable resource. More and more elderly are choosing to age in place with the help of home care, allowing them a non-institutionalized life with dignity and independence.

Home Care Statistics


The home care service industry actually began in the United States in the 1880s. More than 12 million Americans currently receive some form of home care from approximately 35,000 providers, costing as much as $75 billion each year, however, this number does not factor in the more informal levels of care given by friends or family members.

How Your Loved One Can Benefit From Home Care


Whether your loved one is a senior who requires some form of home care, or even a younger adult who is disabled or recuperating from a serious illness, home care can allow them to get the treatment and services they need while remaining in familiar surroundings. Hospital stays continue to decrease, with more and more insurance plans refusing to pay for more than the minimum recuperating period. When patients are effectively kicked out of the hospital they are far from well, yet cannot manage on their own.

Specific Home Care Services


Although medical support services may be a part of the home care support system, typically home care will include assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation.  These daily living activities can also include help in the form of providing transportation to the grocery store, post office, medical appointments or even social events as well as help with paying bills. Home care services can even be as simple—and as necessary—as being in the senior’s home to provide companionship and emotional support.  Most home care services are available 24/7 and can help your loved one get by while recuperating in their own home.

Home care services can encompass a few hours a week or as much as 24 hours per day, depending on the level of care needed. The services detailed above are generally considered personal care, however, home care can also provide medication management, wound care, physical therapy and any other medical care which a licensed nurse can provide. For those who are suffering from a chronic illness or have recently suffered a serious injury medical home care services can actually prevent further hospitalization.

Personal care services can also include respite care for the full-time caregiver, whether that is a family member or paid provider.  Light housekeeping can be a part of personal care services, and home care can even include live-in services or sleepover services.

How to Pay for Home Care Services


While most home care is paid for directly by the senior or their family, it can sometimes qualify for payment through Medicare or Medicaid. There may also be certain tax credits seniors qualify for when they pay directly for home care services.  Seniors who are on Medicare may qualify for as much as eight hours per day, with a limit of 28 hours per week for skilled nursing and home care services, but if you only need personal care services such as help bathing, dressing and preparing meals, Medicare will likely not pay. Medicaid coverage will be dependent upon your individual state requirements as well as income and assets. However, if your loved one meets the criteria, Medicaid will often pay for home health services, part-time nursing, medical supplies, and even certain services which Medicare will not cover.

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