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Home Care & Home Healthcare: What's the Difference?

Michele Teter - September 05, 2016 07:05 PM

Like most seniors, your parents probably hope to stay in their own home for as long as possible. As age advances, though, seniors experience more challenges that make living on their own increasingly difficult. If you’re considering at-home help for your parents, it’s important to understand the options so you can select the appropriate services to meet your parents’ needs.

Home healthcare and home care sound similar, and many people believe they’re one and the same. However, these two types of care are quite different, providing distinct services. Home care is defined as nonclinical care, while home healthcare provides specific medical services.

When Is Home Healthcare the Right Choice?

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, home healthcare includes a number of medically oriented services for seniors suffering from illnesses or injuries. Care is comparable to that provided in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, the agency notes, but it typically costs less and is more convenient.

For a senior to receive home healthcare covered by Medicare, a doctor must order the service and specify the frequency of visits. After a doctor makes a referral, a home health agency will schedule a visit to discuss your parent’s needs and to gather information about medical conditions. In addition, personnel from the home health agency will routinely review care options and provide updates to the doctor.
The goal of home healthcare is to help seniors recover from injuries or illnesses and become as independent as possible. Services may include:

•    Dressing and care of wounds from surgery, pressure sores or an injury
•    Monitoring the patient’s pain level
•    Providing nutrition therapy, including intravenous nutrition
•    Administering injections
•    Monitoring patients who are seriously ill or whose health status can change quickly — services typically include checking vital signs like breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature
•    Monitoring the administration of prescription medications and other medical treatments
•    Educating patients and their caregivers
•    Providing physical therapy in the home
•    Reviewing safety conditions in a senior’s living environment
•    Overseeing care by communicating with the doctor and other members of the caregiving team

How Can Home Care Help?

Home care provides a different set of services and is considered to be nonclinical care. If your parent requires assistance with activities of daily living, a home care provider can help.

Through home care, your parent will receive compassionate assistance from highly trained senior caregivers. Home care aides can provide companionship and assist with personal care and other household tasks necessary for a senior to remain in his or her own home.

Home care may be the right choice if your parent:

•    No longer drives and needs transportation for shopping, medical appointments and other errands
•    Lives alone and may suffer from isolation
•    Requires some help with daily activities, including meal preparation and personal hygiene

Home care professionals provide a variety of services, including preparing meals; assistance with bathing, grooming and dressing; cleaning the home; transporting seniors to appointments; help with mobility, including getting out of and into bed; assistance with financial tasks; and others.

In addition, home caregivers offer support that is crucial for a senior’s ongoing well-being. By serving as a reliable and compassionate presence, home care aides provide consistency for seniors, including those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Home care assistants become trusted companions who can help ward off isolation. Feelings of loneliness and social isolation among seniors significantly increase the risk for deteriorating physical and mental health. With a well-trained aide in the home, you can feel confident that your parent is never lonely and is enjoying a high level of personal care.

Michele Teter is Co-Founder at Alliance Homecare, a home care provider in New York that covers a wide range of services to help you and your loved ones when it comes to aging care.

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