Senior Home Care is becoming a popular option for aging seniors. While some retirees choose to transition to retirement communities when the time comes, many prefer to stay at home. Many people who choose this route rely on family for caregiving at first, but often reach a point where more advanced, frequent, or medically trained care is needed.
Retirees who prefer to stay in their homes can get at-home help at a variety of levels. Here’s an overview of your options for senior in-home care.
A non-certified aide provides non-medical personal care services that may include meal preparation, companionship, light housekeeping, laundry services, and so on. Some non-certified aides may perform heavier chores such as yard work and window-washing. Usually, non-certified aides do not provide personal care such as assistance with bathing, dressing, and bathroom activities. The skills and job duties of non-certified aides can vary widely depending on your agency and your state.
CNA’s and HHA’s undergo a similar certification process, although the process and requirements vary by state. Generally, they receive training in senior home care—although CNA’s may have slightly broader healthcare training. They provide assistance with activities of daily living, which may include personal care, health monitoring, nutritional help, medication assistance, bathroom activities, and light housekeeping in some cases. CNA’s and HHA’s usually work under the supervision of a doctor and comply with a formalized medical care plan.
These are the most medically qualified senior home care providers. Both LPN’s and RN’s must pass stringent state curriculum requirements as well as a standardized national certification process after completing a college degree in nursing. These professionals are able to provide advanced skilled nursing care, and RN’s are also able to oversee members of health care teams.
Medicare will cover home health care under certain circumstances. To receive coverage, your situation must meet all of the following criteria:
If all the above criteria are met, Medicare will pay for:
Medicare leaves gaps in senior home care coverage that can be significant for those whose needs don’t fall within its requirement boundaries. There are, however, a few other options for funding of home health care.
This program provides federal funding to state and local social service organizations that assist older individuals in maintaining their independence at home. Services covered include personal care services, chore assistance, mobility assistance, meal delivery, and shopping assistance. Usually, you must demonstrate social and financial need and meet an age requirement of 60 or older. In some cases, you may be asked to contribute a percentage of your income toward the services. To find out about the OAA options for senior home care in your area, check with your local Area Agency on Aging.
Some local organizations, as well as state and local governments, provide eligible people with assistance in paying for home health care. What’s covered varies from organization to organization, and may pay for some or all needed services. Most people find out about the options in their community by consulting with social workers, local aging offices, or hospital discharge planners.
Health insurance policies vary on how much in-home care they will pay for. Typical health insurance policies cover temporary home health care for acute needs, but long-term care may have to be purchased as a separate policy or rider. Some commercial providers will share costs on skilled professional home care and personal care services. Here are a few options for health insurance coverage.
Medigap insurance fills some of the gaps left by Medicare coverage, including some personal care services if ordered by a physician in conjunction with skilled nursing. Generally, this type of coverage is better suited to those who need temporary care to recover from illness or injury, rather than long-term care.
There are long-term care plans available that will cover personal care, companionship, around-the-house help, and other services. These plans vary greatly and may have coverage limits, and some only pay for what’s already covered by Medicare—so be sure to read the fine print when choosing a plan.
These are group health insurance plans and they may sometimes provide senior home care coverage. If your MCO contracts with Medicare, it must offer all Medicare-covered home health options in your area.
Senior home care can be the ideal solution for those who wish to live out their retirement at home. If you’re considering senior home care for yourself or a loved one, look into local paid agencies or your local government-run center on aging for resources. You can also speak with hospital discharge planners and social workers who specialize in eldercare issues. The more time you can take to research the options, the better chance you’ll have of finding a solution that works for your budget—and your needs.