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When is Home Care Needed?
Identify when the Time is Right for Home Care

Family caregiving tasks change as a loved one's healthcare needs increase as chronic conditions worsen like heart failure or diabetes. When this occurs, call a home care agency to send a professional caregiver to help. Tasks like administering oxygen, transferring safely from a bed to a wheelchair, meal preparation, shopping, doctors visits, and laundry are few of the things home care assistance can do for a loved one in need.

Many seniors receive care at home for illnesses, recovery from surgery, disabilities, and other conditions. Home care comes in many forms, depending on the circumstances. The choices are confusing, and the services grow and change rapidly.

As an aging family member's health situation declines, their care needs, budget, long-term care insurance, and where they live determines what services are available.

This article describes the types of home care and the time to use aging in place care services.

When is Home Care Needed?

Help at HomeHelp at Home

There is no place like home to provide a healing, relaxing environment when recovering from an illness, injury or surgical procedure.

Could it be right for someone in your family?

It's no surprise that close to 90% of seniors living in the U.S. want to age in place - at home. Now more than ever, medical experts confirm that aging in place is the best choice. It's healthier. It's more flexible.

In fact, we typically think of senior citizens as the primary clients for non-medical home care. While seniors are the primary consumer, there are many others with mental and physical needs requiring home care help too.

Home Care for Seniors

  • A history of falls
  • Weight loss, diminished appetite or willingness to prepare meals, spoiled food in the refrigerator
  • Problems with walking or balance, getting up or down, or transferring in and out of bed
  • Lessened driving skills or recent car accidents
  • Changes in personal grooming or hygiene such as uncombed hair, body odor, infrequent bathing or shaving, or wearing unclean or stained clothing
  • Not remembering to take medication or get prescriptions refilled, difficulty managing multiple prescriptions
  • The home has become cluttered or unclean
  • Paperwork is piling up or bills are not paid
  • A loss of interest in socializing or in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Confusion, memory loss, difficulty concentrating and changes in personality which are signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease

Home Care for Chronic Illness and Surgical Recovery

Returning home from a hospital or rehab requires planning. A needs assessment is necessary to create a realistic and sustainable plan for the care steps post discharge. Family caregivers need awareness on the healing process in order to help a loved one heal.

Family Caregiver Assessment

  • What is the primary family caregiver's background: age, education, employment, other family responsibilities, living arrangements?
  • What is the primary caregiver's perception of the care recipient's health and functional status?
  • Length of time giving care and experience: is this a new event, what are the concerns in providing care?
  • What are the primary caregiver's preferences about caregiving: do it all myself, have trouble with needles or incontinence?
  • What is the caregiver's health status?
  • What's the impact of caregiving: emotionally, financially, and relationships with other family members?
  • What are the skills and abilities to perform caregiving tasks?
  • Are they familiar with caregiving resources?

Additional Things a Family Caregiver Needs to Know

  • Do you know how to move your loved one from bed to chair so that you don't hurt yourself or her?
  • Can you do it?
  • Has anyone explained the medications the family member will take? Do you understand them?
  • Can you show other family members what to do, if you are not available?
  • Do you know how to feed the loved one?
  • Can you transfer a loved one safety?

Home care providers improve transitions for patients upon discharge from the hospital or for individuals living at home with chronic illness. Care providers engage and partner with family members the assistance needed for older adults who are home bound due to a major operation or chronic illness.

Home care staff helps with basic needs and recovery, but also provides support for housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry and bathing until the patient is able to perform them again.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that if someone of any age who is basically home bound has several of these indications, home care is an effective solution:

  • Recurrent Hospitalizations
  • Infusion Therapy
  • Wound Care
  • Ostomy Care
  • Catheter Tube Care
  • Joint Replacement
  • New Medications
  • Diabetic Management
  • Changes in Function
  • New Diagnosis

Home Care for Prenatal or Postpartum Moms

Women having difficult pregnancies and on bed rest may need the services of non-medical home care to help around the house and provide basic assistance, including aiding in and monitoring overall health. Home care agencies provide postpartum care for women, particularly in case of a cesarean, and can provide newborn care as well.

Home Care for Hospice Clients

Regardless of age, clients who face end of life wish to die at home. Many home care agencies offer hospice services, which is a specialized form of care that designed to give comfort and support for those who faced with a life-limiting illness.

Home Care for Medically Fragile Children

Medically fragile children are often eligible for home health care services. Children who are ventilator dependent, have cardio-pulmonary conditions, genetic syndromes, or prematurity complications are all among those served by home health care services. Services may include home oxygen management, administering medication, infusion therapy, respite care, and patient/family education.

Home Care for Disabled Adults and Children

Adults and children who are either severely developmentally or physically disabled may qualify for home health care services. Typically, they would have to meet the requirements for admission in a nursing facility if they are seeking government payment for such care. Those with emotional or mental health issues may qualify as well.

What to Ask Private Hire Caregivers or Home Care Agencies?


When paying for home care, whether it's privately or using insurance, ask these questions:

Questions to Ask Questions to Ask

  • What types of services provided?
  • List the tasks they perform.
  • Are you trained?
  • Do you train your aides? How often? On what topics?
  • What kind of testing is given to aides?
  • Do aides have special training to deal with medical conditions like dementia, paralysis, or stroke?
  • What kind of supervision do your aides receive? How often does the supervisor come and observe the aide's work?
  • What hours do they work?
  • Do you screen aides before you hire them?
  • Do you conduct a background check?
  • What exactly does that background check include? Is the criminal background check for this state only, or is it nationwide?
  • Are the aides tested for drugs? How often?
  • Are aides insured and bonded with your agency?
  • What type of medical insurance do you accept?
  • How much do you charge per hour?
  • How often do I pay you?
  • Do you take credit cards?
  • Can your agency arrange for medical equipment when needed?
  • How do you handle complaints?
  • Do you provide 24 - hour access in case of emergencies?

Visit the home health agencies database on the government website to learn about local home health care agencies Medicare Compare.


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