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Long-Term Care: Many Varieties of Home Care

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

Home care sounds simple, doesn't it? Many people think of home care as having an all-purpose assistant/homemaker/aide who spends the whole day (and maybe stays overnight) helping with personal care, doing household chores, and reminding you or your parent to take your medications — basically, doing whatever needs to be done.

This description can be accurate, but only for some people, and even then mostly for those who can pay out of pocket.

Home care services can range from relatively straightforward tasks like helping someone get dressed and preparing meals to a level of care that involves operating and monitoring complex medical equipment and doing wound care and giving injections or infusions. Where you or your parent fit on this spectrum of need determines what kinds of services you may be eligible for and who will provide them, not to mention who will pay.

Home care services can be provided by:

  • Physicians

  • Registered nurses

  • Licensed practical nurses

  • Physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapists

  • Social workers

  • Home health aides or personal-care attendants

  • Equipment vendors who supply durable medical equipment

Each of these people can play an important role in home care, but often you or a family member has to coordinate the different visits and services. This in itself can be a major responsibility involving a significant and ongoing commitment of time.

Here, look at home healthcare services provided by professionals through agencies, which are sometimes covered by insurance. Then turn to the option of hiring a home care worker independently. A final topic to look at is physician home visits.

The AARP Caregiving Resource Center has a lot of information about home care and access to experts who can answer your questions. Go to the website or use the call-in number (877-333-5885), which has extended hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. You can also use the Long-Term Care Calculator to estimate costs in your area.

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