A caregiver talking to a senior.

What Type of Home Care Do You Need?

Options of Home Care for Seniors

Even if you are healthy, active and independent, now is a good idea to find out more about home care for seniors. At some point you will probably need some form of help with your daily activities. Like most seniors, you will most likely prefer to stay in your home in an environment that you are familiar with, close to family and friends, and where you can continue to live your life as you please.

We discuss different levels of hands-on care and also other services that can make life easier for you while also giving your loved ones a peace of mind.

Caregiver Assistance

As the elderly become less mobile, they may need more demanding household chores such as cleaning, laundry, meal preparation and shopping. They may also need companion care. This is someone to be around to keep an eye out for them to make sure that they take their medication, and provide transport to shops, the library, appointments or social events. Some seniors might need assistance with personal care. This includes bathing, dressing, getting to the toilet, eating regularly and generally moving around.

The services of a non-professional caregiver are all that is required at this level of care. Depending on the need it could be a live-in caregiver, or one that comes in a few days a week or a certain number of hours per day. In most areas, there are agencies that provide this type of service at an average cost of $21 per hour ($3,700 per month). Costs vary according to geographic location and you can use the Genworth Cost of Care Survey tool to calculate the average cost of care in your state.

Employing a caregiver yourself could be considerably cheaper. However, you or a family member, will have to conduct interviews, do background checks, and all the other tasks related to being an employer. Where only little help is needed, one could also consider the possibility of home-sharing with an agreement to assist with, for example, cooking, laundry or providing transport.

Home Health Care

A health issue might require the services of a home health aide. This is someone who permanently or temporarily lives at the senior’s place and helps out. A home health aide performs tasks such as blood pressure checks, administration of medication, and other nursing care at a cost slightly higher than a caregiver.

In some circumstances professional health care providers might need to make home visits for specialized care. This could include registered nurses, physical therapists or occupational therapists. The services of home health care providers might be covered by your medical insurance, especially if prescribed by a medical practitioner.

Respite Care

A spouse or other family member is often the primary and unpaid caregiver for a frail senior. This consistent task can be very demanding, both physically and emotionally. A home care aide can be employed to give the primary caregiver a few hours of free time.

Across the country there are also a number of resources that offer free or low cost respite programs and you can find one in your area using the Respite Program Locator Tool.

On Call Emergency Services

The biggest concern for both older people living on their own and for their loved ones is the event of an emergency. Over the past few years technology has been providing answers to this problem with personal safety monitors and devices. The simplest device is a button worn on a chain around the neck or on a bracelet that can be pressed to alert emergency services. This is referred to as personal emergency response services (PERS).

More advanced devices today use sensors and monitors to convey information on location, activity, movement and even vital signs. Information is sent in real time via phones, the internet and e-mail to family members and to emergency services. Some devices even relay videos over the internet so that family members can monitor their loved ones at any time of the day or night.

The cost of on-call emergency services ranges from $25 per month for basic PERS to $100 per month for the most advanced systems. These costs might be covered by your medical insurance company, depending on your circumstances.

Other Home Care Services

There are other services you might consider if you do not need a hands-on caregiver but feel the need to make your life a bit easier. There are thousands of Meals on Wheels programs across the country that provide a healthy cooked meal at a reasonable price. Other services you might want to consider are cleaning, laundry and gardening services.

Professional service providers hire staff and give a regular, supervised service. However, if you are still up to supervising, it will be cheaper to hire someone from the neighborhood, like a student who needs extra cash.
There are also many charity organizations and church groups that provide these services to the elderly for free.

Prepare and Plan for Home Care

We suggest that you use the pointers in this article to identify all the home care options for seniors that are available in your area. A good place to start is your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) which is either a public or a private non-profit agency appointed by the state to address the needs of seniors. They can also give you advice and assistance with Medicaid payments for home care services.

Once you know which services are available and their cost, you can make plans that also take your budget into account. Discuss your wishes with your loved ones. Together you can prepare in advance so that, when the need for care arises, the decision about your living arrangements is not taken out of your hands.