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This article discusses the benefits of non-medical home care for family caregivers and provides information on the cost and availability of such services.
- Non-medical home care can help family caregivers by providing assistance with activities of daily living and 24-hour supervision.
- Most people who hire home health aides and personal care aides pay out-of-pocket, with the average rate for a home health aide being $17 per hour.
- Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans may be eligible for homemaker and home health aide services, depending on their health status and eligibility criteria.
How can non-medical home care help family caregivers?
Your parent may need help with their activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating, bathing or using the bathroom. They may also need someone to cook meals, do laundry and keep their home clean, if they aren’t able to care for themselves in those ways anymore. And depending on their health status, they may need 24-hour supervision.
If you’re a family caregiver with a job, a family and your own household to run, being ever-present to meet your parent’s daily needs may not be a possibility. Trying to do everything by yourself may be stressful and overwhelming. But hiring a home health aide or personal care aide can keep your parent safe and cared for in their own home while you supervise, rather than run the show. It’s a valuable service that may help you feel less stressed and more in control of your life.
Having someone else to rely on to handle basic care and companionship for your parent may give you peace of mind, whether you live across town and visit regularly, or you’re across the country.
How much does non-medical home care cost?
Most people who hire home health aides and personal care aides pay out-of-pocket, whether they find an aide through a home care agency or place an ad and hire someone privately. Aides are hired by the hour, whether through an agency or individually. Agencies may have a minimum number of hours that aides must work per day and/or week.
The average rate for a home health aide is $17 per hour. Home health aides and personal care aides who are hired through an agency are more expensive than those who are hired directly, but there are advantages to paying a bit more; the agency takes care of taxes, background checks and other necessary paperwork. If you hire someone on your own, you’ll have to do all of these administrative tasks, plus interviewing potential candidates, hiring and firing.
Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of a home health aide, except under very limited circumstances. If someone has Medicare Part A or Part B, Medicare may pay for a part-time home health aide for 3 weeks or less, provided that Medicare has agreed to pay for part-time in-home skilled nursing during the same time frame.
If your parent qualifies for Medicaid, they may be eligible for a home health aide, if they can prove that their health condition prevents them from managing their activities of daily living. Each state may have its own rules and criteria for eligibility. Some home care agencies may not accept Medicaid.
Veterans may be eligible for homemaker and home health aide services, if they are enrolled through the VA and are unable to manage their activities of daily living on their own. The VA will send aides from a home care agency that they contract with locally.
If your parent has a long-term-care insurance plan, they may have coverage for a home health aide or personal care aide, but you’ll have to read the fine print to see if this is a service that’s available to them.
How do I find non-medical home care for my loved one?
If you’re seeking a home health aide or personal care aide for your parent, you can search for local home care agencies through Medicare’s home health locator; the Eldercare Locator, which will provide contact information for your local Area Agency on Aging; or the Community Resource Finder from the Alzheimer’s Association and AARP. Your parent’s doctor may also have recommendations about local home care agencies.
When you call home care agencies to find a home health aide or personal care aide, asking questions should help you find an agency and aide that will suit your parent’s needs. Consider questions like:
- Is your agency licensed by the state?
- Do you accept Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance?
- Are your employees licensed and background-checked?
- How long have your aides been with the company?
- Are services available to my parent 24/7, if there’s an off-hours emergency?
- What is the procedure for providing a replacement aide if the scheduled aide is unable to work on a given day?
- Can we request the same aide at each visit if my parent likes someone particular?
- Do you create care plans for clients? Can my family have input into my parent’s care plan?
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