4 min read
Meet the different types of in-home caregivers
Learn what kind of care services are available in the home and who provides them
As you and your loved ones research the options for supporting aging in place and the different types of support available, remember that needs change over time—putting together the pieces of in-home care may mean making many decisions throughout a loved one’s care. While there are many kinds of in-home caregivers, we’ve put together a list of the four most common types and what they do.
Remember, there is not necessarily one right decision. Just the decision you can make at the time. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between types of in-home care, so you can make informed decisions to keep your loved one safe and at home.
Caregiving and aging in place
Aging brings changes and a growing need for help beyond what the family can provide, because of time constraints, caregiver burnout, or navigating long-distance caregiving. Chronic medical problems, accidents, cognitive impairment, and general decline can interfere with independence and well-being. That is where in-home care comes in.
In-home care, in all its forms, is an essential part of aging in place. Preferred by the majority of older adults, its benefits include familiar surroundings, neighborhood friends, and the memories and experiences of being at home. Additionally, the cost of in-home care can be more affordable than the monthly costs of an assisted care facility, which may still need to be supplemented by additional services.
Personal In-Home Care
Personal in-home care is the glue that holds the rest of the home care services together. Why? Because insurance and other covered home care services are time-limited and lack flexibility, while personal in-home care covers essential day-to-day personal care not provided by other types of caregivers on an ongoing, flexible basis.
Also known as private in-home care, companion care, respite care, or non-medical in-home care, this type of support is usually hired directly by the family via an online platform or through an agency. As the most flexible type of care, it reflects your own preferences, needs, and schedule, rather than what’s dictated to you by insurance.
Personal in-home caregivers can provide essential, non-medical care, including:
Helping your loved one cook, clean, and organize the home
Assisting with getting dressed, bathing, and transferring from bed to a wheelchair or standing position
Providing companionship, including participating in activities, conversation or trips to preferred interests.
Monitoring changes in health and emotional status and reporting back to the family
Supporting memory care for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s
Assisting with medication reminders
While there are many tasks a personal in-home caregiver can do, avoid asking them to provide medical care, such as:
Setting up or dispensing medications
Providing any medical care such as wound, catheter care, injections, diabetic checks, or vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure
Interacting with healthcare professionals on behalf of the client
Making medical decisions
Home Health Care
Home health care has a valuable place in the care and rehabilitation of older adults and differs from in-home care in a few important ways. Home health care requires a physician's order with specifics about appropriate services, usually nursing, physical and occupational therapy. Home health aides are an integral part of home health service, but as with any of the other home health benefits, their involvement is limited.
Here is what you can expect from home health caregivers:
Help with bathing, changing continence briefs, and grooming
Assistance with eating, including tube feeding or IV feeds, and transferring
Blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature checks
Reporting to the nurse on medical supply or durable medical equipment needs
Attending to wound care, dressings, and stitches
Home health care is typically an insurance-covered benefit, varying based on location and specific coverage. It’s important to be aware, however, that certain areas of support are not covered, such as:
Cooking and cleaning
Occasionally families may need a registered nurse to perform the kinds of duties only a nurse can do. Some examples include: injections, catheter care, wound care, medication management, and ordering durable medical equipment like oxygen, wheelchairs, or hospital bed.
Some people may prefer to employ a private nurse because the patient no longer qualifies for home health care but has continuing nursing needs. Private in-home caregivers, even certified nursing assistants (CNAs), cannot perform any of the tasks that a private nurse can. Private nursing is private pay, and hourly rates vary.
Hospice offers essential support and comfort care for people at the end of life. Hospice is an insurance-covered benefit, so like home health, there are restrictions on what caregivers can do. For example, families are often surprised to learn that hospice is not around-the-clock care.
At the beginning of hospice, you can expect an aide to help your loved one with bathing, grooming, continence care, and eating for a specified number of hours on a weekly basis. To fill in the gaps in care, you can turn to professional in-home caregivers to assist your loved one on a schedule that fits your needs.
In-Home Care: Comfort, Safety, and Health
It can be challenging to navigate the options for care as needs change, but remember that you can have multiple caregivers at the same time if necessary, each providing different kinds of care to help your loved one. Choose the care that best serves your loved one’s health, ensures safety, and provides comfort at that time.
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