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Why And When To Use Home Care For Seniors

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

To see a list of senior home care providers, enter your desired area (zip, city, or full address) in the search bar above and then click on the 'Home Care' button at the top to see only home care options  in your area.

Why And When To Use Home Care For Seniors

If you're like the majority of seniors, you probably want to live at home for as long as possible. You like your feeling of independence. The thought of paying for an assisted living facility makes your heart flutter.

But there are some activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, bathing driving or grocery shopping that can become difficult for some seniors.

In-home care provides seniors with home health care, non-medical care and even companionship. You keep your independence and your house. In-home care professionals come to you.

And with 78 million baby boomers starting to retire at a rate of 8,000 a day, the demand for in-home care will only increase, meaning more competition, better service and lower prices.

Why In-Home Care?
One survey shows that 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible. Your home is where you're comfortable. It's what is familiar. It provides comfort. If you move out to an assisted living community or nursing home, you're starting over. You may have to room with a stranger.

With in-home care, you're able to remain as independent as you can be. Independence is a psychological boon, especially when the effects of aging are taking place.

For example, you have hip replacement surgery. And instead of heading to a nursing home for care, you go back home, where a physical therapist helps your recovery. And a home health aide tends to your home until you can. The surroundings are yours. You sleep in your bed. All of this familiarity can help with your recovery.

One study found that those who received in-home care visited the doctor 25% fewer times than those that didn't receive in-home care. Clients with Alzheimer's or other dementia diseases, made almost 50% less trips to the doctor.

Types of In-Home Care
Not all in-home care is the same. There is service for any kind of need. For example, a man shows signs of Alzheimer's but is otherwise physically healthy. He may just need help with paying his bills, getting to appointments, etc. He won't necessarily need medical help yet.

Licensed medical professionals can include physicians, physician's assistants (PA), nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and some specialty home health aides who work under the direction of a physician.

A recent survey by Home Instead Senior Care of over 1,600 caregivers showed the following services used by clients:

  • 60% used home-health nurses
  • 59% used physical therapists
  • 32% used occupational therapists
  • 37% had at least one in-home visit from a PA or nurse practitioner
  • 17% had an in-home visit from a physician

Non-medical paraprofessionals include as home health aides, personal care attendants, homemakers and companions. Home health aides provide hands-on care and assistance to with ADLs (see below). They can also help with cooking, shopping and laundry.

Homemakers or companions provide services such as light housekeeping, transportation, and companionship. These activities are known as instrumental ADLs (see below). People with Alzheimer's will often use a companion to assist them.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Feeding
  • Toileting
  • Grooming
  • Oral Care
  • Walking or using a wheelchair

Instrumental ADLs

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Change linens
  • General shopping
  • Transportation
  • Meal preparations
  • Managing money
  • Medication management

Who Receives In-Home Care?
According to Home Instead Senior Care's survey of home care professionals, their clients fell into the following categories:

  • 61% had mobility issues
  • 48% were frail (muscle weakness, slow walking, exhaustion)
  • 43% had some type of dementia
  • 29% had Alzheimer's disease
  • 22% were dealing with the after-effects of stroke

Costs of In-Home Care vs. Continuing Care
If you're weighing the pros and cons of in-home care and continuing care (assisted living, nursing home, etc.), here are some numbers to think about. According to The 2012 Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, these are the national averages for senior care:

  • Nursing Homes average $222 a day for a private room; $200 for a semi-private room.

  • Assisted living facilities ("typically include at least two meals per day, housekeeping, and personal care assistance, were obtained for one-bedroom apartments or private rooms with private baths in assisted living communities.") average $3,300 a month. 

  • In-Home Care averages $19 an hour for health aides; $18 an hour for homemaker/companion. Additionally, 82% of home health care agencies provide Alzheimer's training to their employees and 99% don't charge an additional fee for patients with Alzheimer's. Most home care services require a minimum of 4 hours so the minimum cost  is $76 /day.

In-home care can certainly be a lower cost solution to assisted living depending on the kind of care you need, and how many daily hours you need this care.

For many seniors, in-home care is an alternative to assisted living that allows them to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Most providers are even trained to care for Alzheimer's clients. 

If you or a loved one are considering in-home care services, search's database for care providers in your neighborhood.


Updated: Jun 14, 2011


[6] Comments... Read them below.
Latosha Butler On Nov 12, 2014
I am a caregiver. I am licensed and offer services in the Hampton Roads and Northern Neck area. I have several very happy clients who are willing to give me an outstanding reference. I have over 13 years of experience and very affordable prices. My contact # is (757) 327-3884. No minimum hours unlike moth home health agency's. I look forward to hearing from you.

irene On Oct 31, 2014
I am my mom's caregiver (84), she lives with me and my husband, we own our home, I lost my job and need help caring financially for her. can I get Medicaid or help for us? Bullhead City, AZ

Ross Ahya On Sep 3, 2014
Hi, I'm looking for a potential home health providers for my parents in Houston. We are Indian, and they would feel a lot morefortable with an Indian home health care provider. Would you know of that such home health practices that cater specifically to Indians? Our home zip code is 77033. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me. I know you understand how difficult this process is. Thanks so much. Best, Ross Ahya

Gail Leef On Oct 11, 2013
I have been a caregiver for my husband for almost 4 years. I have no support emotionally other than my monthly Caregivers group. caregivers need help..not just a list of books or groups. It is almost impossible for many of us to work and earn a living. Some states pay spouses to be caregivers, but not PA. I fear my financial future.

Cathy Odom On Feb 28, 2013
I am looking for help with care for my mother. She is 84, very physically healthy eventhought she has diabetes and has dimentia. The only real obstical I have to taking care of her at home is she gets intense panic attacts. I have not found a Dr. yet that tells me that it is just her dimentia and I should put her in a pshyciatric facility. I disagree. My husband and I are moving ASAP to the Baytown, Deer Park area. I am in need of resources of all kinds even doctors. Please help if you can. I look forward to talking to you. Cathy

James Miller On Jan 2, 2013
Can I choose my own caregiver? I have a dear friend who has been doing things for me for a year now. I am disabled and have surgeries ahead of me; I would be much happier and less depressed if my friend could become my official caregiver through you. I'm on full Medicare and Humana insurance.