Does Medicare pay for part-time home care?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Rozness asked...

My 95 year-old mother has been passing out and injuring herself. In the hospital they ran several tests to check her heart. She now wears a heart monitor. Does Medicare pay for an aide to assist her with bandaging her wounds and showering and dressing? About 2 hours per day?

Expert Answers

Maria Basso Lipani writes a popular website on geriatric care topics, where she puts her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to good use answering care planning questions. Maria is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and is licensed in California and New York.

The short answer to your question is no. If your mother’s injuries were severe enough to require elaborate dressing changes (i.e. more than basic ointment application and bandaging) then a nurse might be assigned for a temporary period of time and with her (possibly) an aide. However, Medicare would never pay for an aide if a nurse’s services were not also needed, so the question of how severe the injuries are is a critical one.

The best thing to do would be to contact your mother’s doctor and ask if her injuries require wound care through a visiting nurse service. If the doctor feels they do, he or she would make a referral authorizing this service and a nurse would visit your mother’s home to further assess her needs. At that time your mother could request assistance with bathing and dressing.

The one caveat with home services paid for by Medicare is that they can stop abruptly.  Once the services have begun you'll want to speak with the nurse about how long they have been authorized for so that you can prepare if you feel your mom requires additional assistance when the benefit has run out. 

If the wounds are not severe enough to require wound care, then your only option would be to pay for home health aide services out of pocket by contacting a local home care agency. Keep in mind though that many require a minimum of four hours, not two.