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Identifying and Choosing Home Care Providers

Once you have determined that your parent needs home and/or daily care, the next step is determining who the necessary care providers are. Generally, there are five different categories of home care providers:

  1. Home management — includes daily household activities such as laundry, light cleaning and grocery shopping.
  2. Personal care (nonmedical) — offers assistance with daily personal needs such as bathing, dressing, using the bathroom and shower, and general mobility assistance.
  3. General health care (health and basic medical monitoring) — Home health aides can provide assistance with at-home health and medical conditions and needs, such as changing bandages, administering medications, monitoring overall appearance, and taking temperature, pulse and blood pressure readings.
  4. Licensed health care (such as registered nurses, occupational therapists and speech therapists) — For patients who need medical and therapeutic treatments at home, Medicare (or similar insurance) will typically pay for these specialized providers, particularly following surgery or a hospital stay.
  5. Meal providers — your parent's local area may have senior centers, churches, temples or other community groups that deliver meals. They also may receive food from organized programs like Meals on Wheels.

These services can be located and contracted through a number of different avenues:

  • Private home health care agency
  • Referral from primary care physician or geriatric specialist
  • Local area senior services agencies, including Council on Aging (COA) and Agency on Aging
  • Personal referral from friends, coworkers or family members
  • Your employer or insurance company may provide referral services or assistance

The geriatric care manager
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the options and decisions, or you live too far away from your parent to adequately choose home care providers, you may want to work with a geriatric care manager. This is a growing occupation of skilled professionals who can help with just about every aspect of your elder's care.

Geriatric care managers can help with:

  • Assessment of the need for home care; interview, hire and monitor home care providers
  • Assessment of the need for outside care, including day care, assisted living, nursing home options and hospice
  • Legal and financial assistance
  • Interaction with medical supply and service providers
  • Medicare, insurance and other government benefit programs