Home Care Services for Seniors: Cost, Benefits, & More

Key Takeaways

  • In-home care for older adults can provide a number of services to help care for a senior from the comfort of their or a loved one’s home.
  • Seniors who want to age in place, have recently undergone major surgery, or who need ongoing medical care may benefit from in-home care.
  • Home care for seniors may provide assistance with activities of daily living, personal care, some medical care, socialization, and much more.
  • Medicaid, Medicare, VA benefits, long-term care insurance, and a number of other payment options may be used toward the cost of home care for seniors.

Home care for seniors can provide many health and medical benefits, as well as a sense of comfort for seniors who would prefer to remain within their own homes as they age.

This type of care option comes with many of the same services offered at a residential nursing care facility, while allowing seniors to maintain a sense of independence and self-care.

About In-Home Care Services for Seniors

In-home care services can include levels of care like personal care and assisted living services to more advanced levels of care like memory care or skilled nursing services.

The idea of in-home care is to be flexible and convenient for the senior, and can be best-suited for seniors who have limited transportation or disabilities that prevent them from leaving the home.

In-home care services are also designed to provide respite care to those who are full-time caregivers to their family members or loved ones.

How Home Care for Seniors Works

In order for a senior to start with personal or medical care assistance at home, a senior must have a referral from their physician. This is typically not hard for most seniors to get, if they have a need for this type of care.

From there, the senior or their loved one can speak with staff members from different home health care agencies, set up in-person meetings and interviews, and ultimately decide on a caregiver who is a good fit for their needs.

Once hired, the caregiver should determine an individualized care plan for the elder that ensures that they are getting all that they need out of their in-home care.

Which Seniors Need Home Care?

When it comes to senior care, there are numerous options, so why would someone choose in-home care over other types of care?

Reasons that seniors seek in-home care include:

  • They would prefer to age in place in the comfort of their own home
  • They need daily or weekly medical care, but not constant medical care
  • It can provide a break during the daytime hours for their primary caregivers
  • It can provide much-needed socialization and companionship for seniors who are unable to leave their homes
  • They are recovering from a recent surgery or injury and would like to transition back into life at home under their own care but need rehabilitation first

Types of Home Care Services for Seniors

Home care services for seniors come in virtually every level of care that is offered within residential nursing homes, from assistance with activities of daily living to more advanced medical care.

Home Health Care

Seniors who are in need of medical care on a daily or weekly basis can utilize home health care, which can include various kinds of skilled nursing and therapeutic services when needed.

Types of therapies offered at home can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, or any other types of rehab services a senior might need after a surgery or hospital stay.

In addition to these services, some care providers can also give specialized care for older adults with dementia or memory disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Assistance With Activities of Daily Living

For seniors who need assistance with personal care services and activities of daily living (ADL), home health care can be a great option.

Caregivers who assist with ADL may be able to provide some minor medical services, such as medication management, but will likely not have any nursing experience.

Senior Day Care and Companion Care

Senior day care programs can vary a lot in what they offer, depending on what the senior and their caregiver are in need of.

Oftentimes senior day care is utilized when a senior’s main caregiver is a family member who works during the day while the senior is still in need of supervision during daytime hours.

Mobility Modifications for Your Home

For seniors who want to age in place within their own home, some home modifications may be all that is necessary in order to keep things comfortable and safe for their well-being.

Examples of home modifications can include grab bars around showers and toilets and wider doorways to allow for wheelchairs or walkers to pass through. Contractors may be able to provide this service, which can provide great relief to a senior and their caregiver.

Transportation Services

There are many seniors who are still independent and mobile enough to get around and get out of the house, but who may not feel comfortable driving or may not have their own transportation.

Seniors in these situations may want to use home care that offers transportation services to get to and from doctor appointments or other necessary errands like grocery shopping.

Household Cleaning and Maintenance

Household cleaning and maintenance services can help seniors to stay on top of basic household chores, such as light housekeeping, as well as anything that needs to be fixed around the house.

By having these basic domestic services taken care of, seniors can have more time to spend on relaxing and spending time with loved ones.

Top Benefits of Home Care for Seniors

In-home care has many benefits over residential nursing home care, and a lot of older adults prefer this type of care.

Top benefits of home care for seniors include:

  • Seniors are often more comfortable in their own homes and within a familiar environment.
  • In-home care is usually more affordable than a nursing home stay would be.
  • Can give a break to full-time caregivers or family members who have day jobs or need downtime.
  • In-home care is often more personal and has more of a one-on-one feel to it.
  • In-home care means that seniors won’t have to leave any loved ones behind, such as a spouse or even a pet, if they instead enter a nursing facility.
  • There can be more family involvement when a senior is cared for in their own home.

In-Home Care vs. Other Types of Elderly Care

While in-home care is the right choice for many seniors and their full-time caregivers, it is not always the most comfortable or most appropriate choice for everyone.

Ways that in-home care compares to other types of senior care:

  • Assisted living facilities and in-home care both offer help with activities of daily living, although in-home care may be more appropriate for elders who still have some level of mobility and independence.
  • Skilled nursing facilities and in-home care both provide medical services such as wound care, physical and occupational therapy, and medication management. In-home care for this type may be more suitable for seniors with less intensive medical conditions or those who need daily or weekly care, but not necessarily 24/7 care.
  • Memory care facilities and in-home care can both provide specialized services for elders with dementia and other memory disorders, however, memory care facilities may be better suited for those who need 24/7 supervision and security in order to feel safe.
  • Senior apartments and in-home care differ in that senior apartments are living communities that provide socialization and a variety of services for seniors, with very limited medical care. Seniors in elder communities often have the option to have in-home care during their residency, however.
  • Senior day care centers and in-home care offer similar levels of care and socialization and companionship, as well as services like transportation. The main difference is that senior day care lasts the entire day, while in-home care visits may only be an hour or two each day or a few days a week.

How Much Does In-Home Care for Seniors Cost?

The cost of in-home care for seniors will range significantly across each individual situation, so it can be difficult to predict the costs of in-home care.

In most cases, the benefits that in-home care can provide for seniors far outweigh the potential costs that they may be worried about.

Factors that affect the cost of in-home care for seniors include:

  • Location
  • Level of care needed by the senior
  • Frequency of visits needed
  • Level of education and certification of the caregiver
  • Experience level of the caregiver
  • Financial assistance offered by the home health agency

Payment Options for Home Care for Seniors

When it comes to paying for home care and other types of senior care, many people use a combination of payment methods.

Payment options for home care for seniors include:

  • Medicare can be used toward in-home care for seniors but only to cover services that are deemed to be medically necessary.
  • Medicaid pays for in-home care and other forms of nursing care in all 50 states, at least partially.
  • VA Aid and Attendance are benefits for veterans that can help pay for both nursing home care or in-home care and which are meant for seniors who spend the majority of their time in bed due to injury or illness.
  • Life insurance can be sold at market value back to the company or to a third party and this cash can then go toward in-home care costs.
  • Long-term care insurance usually covers in-home care services, but because long-term care insurance is a type of private insurance, the amount that is covered for a senior will vary under each plan.
  • Reverse mortgages are for seniors who are 62 years of age or older, and are based on a person’s home equity. This type of payment assistance can be a great idea for seniors who own their own homes.
  • Private loans can also be utilized by seniors with good credit and can be used along with private funds to pay for home health aide.

It is important to note that even after health insurance and other benefits, there may still be some out-of-pocket expenses left to cover.

What to Look for in an In-Home Caregiver for Seniors

Once you have made the decision that in-home care is the right choice for your loved one, your next step is to find them a compassionate and qualified caregiver.

The following are some of the qualities to look for in an in-home caregiver.

Partnership With a Home Health Care Agency

While there are private caregivers available that are of high quality, it may be more comfortable to choose a caregiver who is partnered with a home care agency.

This is especially the case if the home healthcare agency is licensed, certified, and accredited – all of which are signs of high quality care.

Training and Education in Elderly Care

It is important to find a caregiver who has the certifications and licensing that you would expect and that is required in your state for the level of care that you are looking for.

Types of senior care certification include:

  • Basic caregiver certification
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification
  • Home Health Aide (HHA) license
  • First aid and emergency care training and certification
  • Memory care and dementia training

Positive Ratings

Look for reviews and ratings for any caregiver that you are interested in, and try to get personal recommendations whenever possible.

Also, try to obtain personal references for the caregiver with contact information so that you can speak with people who have experienced the person’s caregiving skills.

Tips for Choosing a Senior Home Caregiver

Choosing the right caregiver is important, as they will be spending a lot of time around your loved one, and your loved one will be reliant on them in many situations.

Tips for choosing a senior home caregiver include:

  • Choose a caregiver that has the skills to match your loved one’s needs.
  • Conduct a background check on all potential caregivers, especially if they are private and do not work with an agency.
  • Check with all character references provided by the caregiver.
  • Choose a caregiver that has a schedule that can match your loved one’s needs.
  • Ask for your loved one’s input and make sure that all potential caregivers meet with them before hiring anyone.

Home Care for Seniors FAQs

A person who takes care of an elderly person or loved one at home is called a caregiver. A person can be a professional or non-professional caregiver.

Many people are caregivers by profession and get paid to care for seniors in their homes – they also have special training and education that helps prepare them for caring for elderly people.

In many states a spouse can be paid as a caregiver to a senior, though this is not the case in all states.

In states that do allow this compensation, the spouse usually must meet certain requirements and apply for various individual assistance programs on their own.

Medicaid is a great option when it comes to paying for an in-home care provider for a senior who is in need of eldercare.

In most states, in order for a person to qualify for Medicaid to pay for in-home care, they must be able to prove that their in-home care is medically necessary.

Many times it can be a good idea for your loved one to seek a referral through their primary care physician or any other medical provider they see regularly.

You can also reach out to us for further assistance or browse through our database of senior care homes around the United States.

Questions to Ask Senior Home Caregivers

Before you hire a caregiver for your loved one, you should always interview any potential applicants and ask a series of questions.

The questions below can get you started, but you will likely have many questions of your own to ask.

Questions to ask senior home caregivers include:

  • What certifications and licensure do you have?
  • How do you handle emergencies?
  • What type of experience do you have?
  • What basic services do you provide with every visit?
  • What days and hours are you available?
  • Are you a member of a home health agency?

Look for In-Home Care for Seniors Near You

There is a lot to consider when thinking about in-home care for a senior that you care about, but it can be the right choice for many and can relieve some of the stresses of family caregivers.

To find a home health care agency near you and to connect with top-quality caregivers in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging, browse through our comprehensive directory, or contact us at any time for assistance.

Written by: Aging with Care Editorial Staff

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