When the time comes to hiring care for older adults, there may be some confusion as to what type of care is most appropriate for them at the time. Sometimes more than one level of care is needed at the same time. Understanding the differences and similarities of what is available can help you choose what care is right for their needs and budget.
What is Home Health Care?
Home health care is medical by nature and must be prescribed by a physician. Services are typically provided by a registered nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist or home health aide. Additionally, any care that requires something going into the body must always be provided by someone licensed to provide skilled healthcare. Some of the tasks performed by home health care or skilled care providers are:
- Administration of medication - oral, IV and injections
- Medication Management – putting medications into a med-set box
- Monitoring Vital Signs
- Wound Care
- Creating a plan for therapeutic exercises following an illness or injury
- Pain Management
- Bathing– provided by home health aides for a short time
These services are provided using a team-based approach. A skilled care provider usually makes a 1 hour visit a few times per week, and the length of care usually lasts a few weeks, depending on the illness or injury. Services most often covered by Medicare or other health insurance. Since visits are short, there is no emphasis on having a meaningful social interaction.
What is Non-Medical Home Care?
There are many different terms used for this level of care: private duty care, personal care, homemaker services, custodial care, unskilled and non-clinical care. In general, it means a service that is designed to help someone with daily activities that they can no longer easily perform for themselves. It can be used in conjunction with home health care when someone is recovering from an illness or injury or can be ongoing in order to provide the support someone needs to live in their home, or prevent them from advancing to the next level of care at a care community. Some tasks that may be performed by a non-medical caregiver are:
- Meal Preparation and Eating
- Light Housework
- Personal Care – bathing, dressing,toileting, continence care
- Mobility Assistance
- Medication Reminders
The majority of home care companies require a pre-set weekly schedule and shifts of 3-4 or more hours. Sometimes the same caregiver is sent for all shifts and sometimes there is a team of caregivers to cover all of the shifts. Depending on the amount of time a caregiver is in the home, they may or may not be have dedicated time for conversation or activities that provide meaning and enjoyment. Non-medical home care is most often paid for privately or with long-term care insurance coverage.
What is Companion Care?
Companion care emerged from the increasing awareness of social isolation and loneliness in the older adult population. When someone is experiencing barriers to interacting with others, the physical separation from people who could enhance their quality of life and feeling emotionally separate from others can lead to deteriorating physical and mental health. The goal of this level of care is to provide consistent social interaction, mentally engaging and meaningful activities, help monitor an older adult’s well being and alert family members or friends of changes observed at each visit. This type of care can have positive effect on a person’s mood and outlook on life. It is a proactive approach to care, rather than a reactive service like non-medical home care and home health care. Specially trained individuals, such as CarePros, can provide help with activities such as:
- Conversation about interests of the older adult and exploring new interests
- Indoor and outdoor gardening
- Listening to and playing music together
- Creating art or craft projects
- Sending letters to loved ones
- Playing cards and games
- Reminiscing about life experiences
- Video chatting with family and friends
Companion care provides the vital engagement that is essential to life satisfaction and feeling connected. Life satisfaction is highly correlated to participating in activities that bring fun, fulfillment and connection with others. This type of care can augment family members and friends visiting with the older adult or if loved ones no longer live close-by, a trusted companion can be the difference between being isolated and feeling lonely and having something to still look forward to. This care can be hired as part of the care team that helps someone stay as healthy as they can for as long as possible.
Bringing the Teams Together
At some point in an older adult’s life they will most likely need or will benefit from one or more types of care. While families may want to provide much of the care themselves, they may not be able to if they don’t live in the immediate area or have a full plate of other responsibilities. The different care providers can come together to ensure that an individual is supported in all areas of his/her life. Click here to find out more about how a CarePro can help your loved one enjoy life once again.