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There’s a cycle to life as we age: when we’re born, we require extensive care as we learn what our bodies can do. But as we enter our golden years, we require extensive care as we discover what they can no longer do.

Families with elderly relatives inevitably ask themselves, “What’s the best way my loved one can stay at home with dignity and grace?” This discussion, of course, takes different turns and emotional shades as you balance your loved one’s health needs with your family’s financial resources.

Traditional options include skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and — in the most dire situations — hospice centers. But many families are steering toward in-home care, when possible, in an effort to save money and protect the wellbeing of their loved ones.

What does in-home care for seniors cover?

There are two kinds of in-home care for seniors: medical and non-medical.

Non-medical home care for seniors typically covers basic physical and psychological needs. Specifically, an elder receiving non-medical home care likely needs assistance with activities of daily living, or “ADLs”. These include tasks such as:

• Bathing and using the restroom;
• Transportation to and from appointments and errands;
• Basic housecleaning;
• Preparing and cooking meals;
• Personal hygiene, such as washing hair, shaving, and getting dressed;
• Transferring to and from bed and other locations in the home;
• Companionship (many seniors are simply lonely).

As you might expect, medical home care (alternatively known as “home healthcare”) services are typically provided by a registered nurse or similar healthcare professional. These professionals may provide the same services as non-medical caregivers, but also have authorization to perform various medical tasks, such as administering medication and operating certain medical devices. (Note: HomeHero strictly performs non-medical home care only).

As you might expect, non-medical home care is the first choice for most seniors for a couple reasons: one, few seniors want to leave their homes behind, and two, it tends to be much cheaper than more intensive options such as home health or nursing home care.

How does in-home care affect elderly health?

Non-medical in-home care for seniors can actually improve both physical and psychological well-being. For example, a caregiver in the home can remind seniors take their medication correctly and on time. In fact, individuals who don’t follow prescription instructions account for 33% of all drug-related hospital readmissions.

In-home caregivers can also help seniors from falling victim to a more subtle and nuanced condition — depression. When a senior experiences depression, it often interferes with basic body chemistry by causing insomnia, irregular eating habits, aches, headaches and fatigue. In some cases, depression makes seniors more likely to consider suicidal thoughts or actions.

In-home care helps address these issues and more by having someone in the home. A caregiver can help ensure seniors follow the recommendations of their physicians, avoid accidents in the home and serve as a personal healthcare advocate for the senior.

Likewise, a caregiver for the elderly can collect information from the home than can then be reviewed by the senior’s clinical support network.

“Knowing more about how people live—from their interests to their income—could prove useful as doctors look for clues to poor health and tailor interventions to address patients’ needs,” writes Wall Street Journal reporter Melanie Evans, “Potentially preventing illness and saving money, proponents of this approach say.”

How do I find in-home care for seniors?

HomeHero is one of the leading home care agencies in the United States. To find out more about how our services can help you or a loved one in the home, visit our Care Finder page.

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