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How is Home Care Different from Other Care Options?
Understand Senior Care Options and What Makes Home Care Different

Find the Right Care Options

Choosing the best elder care option for a loved one isn't determined without knowing what a loved one needs, the status of their health, learning what's available, and the deliverables given. In order to choose the best care, you must weigh your options and understand the advantages and disadvantages of different types of senior care.

As the adult child of an aging relative, at some point you may need to help a loved one with a range of activities, like bathing, dressing, transferring, shopping, cooking and eating. Legal and financial areas like medical decisions, paying bills, handling investments and budgeting may become your responsibility too.

You're in luck because community-based services exist to help consumers with growing senior care concerns. Defining specific needs is the first step toreceivingthe right kind of help and support for a loved one.

Senior Care Options

With so many services available to older adults and families, you'll need to outline the specific needs.

Make a list of these concerns and write out your answers:

  • What type of help does my loved one need to live as independently as possible?
  • Make a list of healthcare, nutrition requirements, supervision, companionship, housekeeping, and transportation needs.
  • How much money is available to pay for these services?
  • Will insurance cover any of the services?
  • What days and times do we need help?
  • What assistance can I, a family member, or a friend provide?

How is Home Care Different from Other Care Options?

Care programs and services differ state to state and within the counties of each. Most provide care options designed for people living with Alzheimer's, stroke, diabetes, other forms of dementia, and chronic medical conditions.

Here is an outline of most options for the elderly, senior, or another care recipient and family caregivers:

In-Home Care

Care Services at Home
Care Services at Home

Usually delivered by professionals or by family members. Professionals give care from several hours a day to 24/7 round the clock care, depending on a recipient's needs. There are different levels of services. For some older adults who only need help performing daily tasks, home care amounts to nothing more than common chores. Others need help with medications, injections, and other medical assistance. For these individuals, certified health training required.

Home care combines some level of healthcare and supportive services to assist the homebound sick or disabled persons living at home safely. The hours, types of services, and level of care provided by the healthcare providers.

There are two types of home care: non-medical care and home health care. Home health care provides medical services, like medication assistance, nursing services, and physical therapy. Non-medical home care provides companionship, housekeeping, cooking, transportation, and other household activities and chores.

Home care fees differ, so shop around. Medicare, Medicaid, and some private insurance policies pay for limited home health care with certain restrictions. Otherwise, you pay out-of-pocket.

Non-medical home care aides are found through personal referrals or through a private home care agency, hospital, social service agency, public health department or other community organizations. For information on home care in your community, search our home care directory or contact a local AAA.

Case Management

Locates and provides hands-on management of services for aging loved one. Professional case managers, trained in counseling, social work or a related healthcare field, help assess an individual's situation, carries out and monitors a care plan designed for the care recipient. A case manager works with the family, the physician, therapist and patient to identify and arrange services needed like home care, meals, transportation and day care. They assist in locating eligibility for entitlement programs, plan for long-term care and intervene in a crisis.

Hospice Care

Special services and therapies to individuals terminally ill and improves daily living for them by controlling the symptoms of the illness and restoring dignity. A hospice care team of professionals and volunteers meets the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients and family members. Services offered by nursing care, social services, dietary consultation, and emotional support. Support to surviving loved ones continues during bereavement. Costs coverage is available through Medicare, Medicaid, and some private insurance plans. Learn more at Hospice Foundation of America.

Support Groups

Bring friends and family members together to share and discuss practical solutions. Groups support family members by giving encouragement, understanding and support from others who have similar concerns. Interacting with support groups help reduce stress. Support groups are in hospitals and support organizations. To learn more, contact Family Caregiver Alliance.

Respite care

A type of care crucial for family caregivers. Respite care includes adult day care and home care services, and overnight stays in a facility. It's given a few hours a week or for a weekend. Many caregiver support programs offer respite assistance as part of their services. Some service organizations offer volunteer respite workers who provide companionship or protective supervision only. For information on respite care in your community, contact your AAA.

Adult Day Programs

When elderly parents live in their own homes or in the home of a relative, supplemental care is given by adult day care programs. Services provided at day care include meals, social activities, and minor health services. Adult day care is a popular option for elders who live with other family members that hold full-time jobs in addition to being caregivers.

Independent Living Facilities

An independent living facility allows a senior to rent a condo or apartment home on a community campus. Within the campus, services give seniors a number of options for socializing. For residents in generally good health, the major benefit of an independent living facility is that seniors can stay socially active and reduce their chances of becoming socially isolated or depressed. However, because health services aren't typically provided, this is not the best option for elders with major health concerns.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are a lot like independent living facilities. The biggest exception is that they also provide basic health services. Residents at an ALF live independently in their own apartment until, but they also have access to help from personal care staff to help with common chores. Skilled nurses aren't usually provided on-site, so they offer limited types of health care services.

Nursing Home Care

When seniors need 24-hour care, they generally move into a nursing home where they get major medical needs met by a number of health care professionals. On a daily basis, nursing home residents may come into contact with RNs, LPNs, doctors, and therapists. Older adults live in a room on facility grounds and share with other residents. Other needs include housekeeping, laundry services, meals, and recreational opportunities.

Alzheimer's and Dementia Care

When a patient suffers from Alzheimer's or dementia it is often necessary for to move to a specialized care unit. Much like traditional nursing homes, these facilities specialize in the care of elders with illnesses affecting memory and brain function. In some cases nursing homes have wings dedicated to the care of Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

What's Next

Once you've assessed the aging loved one's needs, begin contacting community care options and arrange to receive care services. To make your search easier, go to our directory. Here you'll find local home care agencies that serve seniors at home.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.