What Is Home Health Care?
Home health care is medical care and assistance provided within one’s own home. This can include professional nurses, nurses’ aides (certified or not), physical, occupational or speech therapists, dietitians, and medical social workers. There are several other in-home services you can hire to come in and help, such as housekeeping, grocery shopping and companions, but the term home health care generally refers to those that provide medical or caregiving services.
What kinds of services might home health provide?
- Medication management and administration
- Bathing or showering
- Physical, occupational or speech therapy
- Assistance with getting dressed and groomed in the morning
- Respite care
- Exercise and range of motion
- Assistance or supervision with eating
- Assistance with bedtime preparation
- Wound care
- Incontinence care
- Diabetic education and management
- Monitoring for depression, anxiety or other mental health issues
How might home health care be helpful for people who have Alzheimer’s or another dementia?
Sometimes, individuals with dementia become restless, agitated or confused. If they live in their own home, their caregivers may become frustrated or tired from providing 24 hour care. Home health staff can come in to the home and provide some respite care, allowing the caregiver to run errands, go read a book somewhere quiet or enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend.
Home health care can also be helpful for medication management for a person with dementia. A home health nurse can come to your loved one’s home to set up all of the medications for the week as well as to report to the physician how the behavior is responding to the medication.
Some people also hire a home health aide to help a loved one take a shower or get dressed and ready for the day.
Is Home Health Care Paid for by Insurance?
A physician can write an order for skilled services such as a registered nurse or a occupational therapist to provide home health care. This is typically a short-term service that can be billed to Medicare or a private insurance agency if they’ve opted to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicaid may pay for some services in a home. States have different ways of administering these programs, but there may be a limited number of slots open for individuals to receive care at home from a home health agency and have it paid for by Medicaid. The goal of these programs is to provide some in-home help to keep people at home if possible. Paying a home health aide for a few hours a day to provide care to someone in her own home can save Medicaid money if the other option for care is a long term care facility.
Additionally, most home health care agencies have the option for you to pay out of pocket to hire staff to provide services in the home.
Where to Find a Good Home Health Care Agency
Ask others who have used home care for recommendations. A word of mouth referral is often the best source possible. If you don’t know anyone who has needed home health care, you can also check with your physician or your local Alzheimer’s Association.
Alzheimer’s Association. Home Care. Accessed May 30, 2012. http://www.alz.org/nyc/in_my_community_17493.asp
A.D.A.M. Dementia – Home Care. Accessed May 30, 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004670/