Although they share some similarities, home care and home health care are also quite different. For example, Medicare provides coverage for many home health care services, but not for home care. Whether you’re an elderly care recipient or a concerned family member, knowing how to tell the difference between home care and home health care will no doubt matter when important decisions weigh in the balance. What follows is some information that can help guide your decision-making process.

What is Senior Home Care?

Home care services are designed to help aging-in-place seniors with activities of daily living (ADLs) that they can no longer do on their own. The level of in-home care that’s provided by professional aides varies depending on the situation and ranges from grocery shopping or transportation assistance to bathing and incontinence care.

And although home care aides are trained to understand most aspects of senior care, they are usually not licensed to perform medical services.

Examples of senior home care include:

  • Companionship
  • Light housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • Food shopping, meal preparation, and meal deliveries
  • Bathing, dressing, and grooming
  • Toileting and incontinence care
  • Bill paying or financial management assistance
  • Medication reminders

Who Might Benefit from Home Care?

In general, otherwise active older adults who might benefit from home care services include those who:

  • Need transportation to and from activities and medical appointments
  • Need help with cleaning, cooking, and other household responsibilities
  • Feel lonely and isolated in situations when companionship might be beneficial
  • Need assistance with personal care

What is Home Health Care?

On the other hand, home health care is clinical, medical supervision that’s provided by a licensed healthcare professional like a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or social worker. Home health care services are usually delivered through home health agencies or, in rare instances, by hospice agencies.

Home health care is oftentimes referred to as “skilled” care, and may include these services:

  • Wound care and dressing changes
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Administration of prescription medications or shots
  • Medical testing
  • Monitoring of the recipient’s health status

When Might Home Health Care Be Ordered?

Home health care is usually ordered by a doctor as part of an overall health care program following a hospital stay or serious injury. Elderly individuals who might benefit from home health care include those who:

  • Have recently been discharged from the hospital, a skilled nursing facility, or rehabilitation center
  • Need monitoring after a recent medication change
  • Are in fragile health that prevents them from safely traveling to and from appointments
  • Are experiencing an overall decline in function and who might benefit from therapy to regain their independence

Who Pays for Senior In-Home Care?

Home health care falls under the medical services umbrella, while home care does not, so insurance providers tend to cover each type differently. Here are some general insurance guidelines to help you during the planning process:

Medicare and private insurance – These plans cover home health services when prescribed by a doctor. Home health care coverage is available to any senior who qualifies for Medicare insurance.
Medicaid – This covers both types of in-home care for income-qualified seniors, although coverage amounts vary by state.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance – If you have an LTC insurance policy it may provide at least some coverage for home care services.

Using a Holistic Caregiving Approach

Some families find that combining both types of in-home services is the best way to maintain their aging loved one’s quality of life- for example after a lengthy hospital stay. Under this holistic caregiving approach, healthcare professionals provide essential medical care, while home care aides assist with ADLs- combining their efforts to ensure that the senior’s physical, mental and emotional needs are being met.

Meeting the Needs of the Families We serve

At AmeriCare Plus we provide exceptional home care and home health care services for aging in place seniors, backed by a compassionate approach that’s designed to maintain both quality of life and peace of mind. As a fully licensed and insured home health care agency, our carefully screened aides perform services ranging from companionship to compassionate and dignified personal care services, respite care, dementia care, as well as 24-hour live-in care. To learn more about AmeriCare Plus now, or to schedule a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in our service area, please visit us online at americareplus.wpengine.com!

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