Independent Living: Home Health Care

Home health care aids - facts everyone must know

The demand for home health care aids will become more urgent in coming years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the first baby boomers turned 60 in 2006. Furthermore, they predict “the 65 and older population will grow from one in eight Americans today to one in six by 2020.” Here we’ll discuss how health care aides meet this demand as well as what services they provide, the cost for those services and how someone might pay for them.

Who are home health care aides?

Home health care aides help people who are elderly, disabled, ill and/or mentally disabled to live in their own homes or in residential care facilities instead of in health facilities or institutions. Most in-home care aides work for agencies that provide these home care services directly to the care recipient and are paid by the recipient or the recipient’s family. Furthermore, home health care agencies use a list of the basic activities of daily living (known as ADL) and the instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) when helping seniors or their caretakers to decide if home health care aides are the best choice. For example, the basic activities of daily living (ADL) consist of these self-care tasks:
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Moving from bed to chair
  • Bladder/bowel control
  • Using the bathroom
  • Walking/Exercising

Home health care agencies examine how well the patient functions when doing these particular tasks. The results allow these agencies to see if their services would aid a senior or if greater help is required. (For more information, visit the sidebar “What are ADL and IADL?”)

What do home health care services cost?

Depending on the level of care required, the costs can range from as little as $10 an hour for typical errand services to hundreds of dollars per day for advanced medical help. Full-service agencies can charge anywhere from $15 an hour all the way up to $40 an hour depending on location and, again, the level of care needed. Private home health care aides will not cost as much as those hired through an agency. However, while there are dependable private aids available, the patient and families are usually better protected with a state-licensed and fully insured agency, so the extra cost might be worth the consideration.

How to pay for home health care?

Home health care agencies either work directly with the care recipient or the family based on the level of care provided and the skills needed to provide that care. Often, unless specific long-term care insurance exists, the majority of the cost is born by the patient and/or the family, which can get quite expensive. Medicare will not pay for in-home care and Medicaid coverage and private insurance options are extremely limited.

An overlooked source for home health care funding

Often times the family bears the majority of the cost for elder home health care. However, there is a federal program beyond Medicaid, which offers limited coverage, and Medicare that only pays for care if skilled services are required, like nursing or physical therapy. It’s the Veteran’s Administration. Barbara May, owner of Crystal Clear Concierge in Milwaukee handles many clients, including seniors, and says that many veterans and spouses might be entitled to financial aid for home health care, but they, or their caregivers, never apply because they’re uninformed. “Wartime veterans 65 and over – and even their widows and widowers – could receive financial assistance to help pay for long-term personal care. Many people don’t apply because they mistakenly believe they had to be injured in a war for disability coverage, but that’s not the case. If they meet the financial requirements, and served one day during wartime, they might be eligible for benefits.” Getting older in America can be a challenge when it comes to home health care options, but it does not have to be impossible. With careful planning, families can give needed home health care services their loved ones deserve.

- Written By

Thomas Anderson

Geriatric Care Manager
Thomas Anderson has over 15 years of experience providing care and support to elderly individuals. He specializes in helping seniors manage their medical needs and navigate the healthcare system. Thomas keenly understands how to help aging adults stay as independent as possible while ensuring they have access to the best available resources.