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Senior Care at Home, Explained

Most older adults say they'd prefer to stay at home as long as possible rather than move to a senior living community. At the same time, it's not easy for a family caregiver to do everything that needs to be done. Having the right kind of help can give you much-needed breaks and help you balance work and family demands.

If you're caring for a loved one from a distance, in-home care providers can be another set of eyes and ears for your aging loved one when you can't be there. And high-quality home care providers can help him or her stay active and healthy for as long as possible.

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In-Home Care | For seniors who need minimal help

Would home-cooked meals, help around the house and rides to the store make all the difference for you or your aging loved one? This most basic (and often most affordable) type of in-home care generally includes light housekeeping, companionship, meal preparation, and help with errands. You can hire help to come on a regular weekly schedule or only as needed. Expect to pay about $15-$40/hour for this type of service, depending where you live.

In-Home Care | For seniors who need help with daily activities

Any care that requires physical contact requires a caregiver with more expertise and training. If your loved one needs help with bathing, dressing, using the toilet, shaving, and other in-home care category. These caregivers can usually help with errand-running, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and companionship, too. You can expect to pay $15-$40/hour, or $120-$300/day for live-in help.

Home Health Care | For seniors who need medically supervised help

For medical help such as changing dressings, providing post-surgical rehabilitation, overseeing medications, aiding with physical therapy, or helping with mobility devices, you'll want home health care provided by caregiver who's gone through training and is being supervised by a nurse. (Keep in mind that licensing and certification requirements vary by state; you'll want to ask lots of questions about your caregiver's qualifications.)

You can expect to pay $20-$40/hour for this type of support, depending on the level of medical help needed. Be sure to ask if it's covered by Medicare or other insurance.

Home Health Care | For seniors who need skilled nursing care

If your loved one needs medical care that requires medical expertise, you'll need a home health agency to find a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), or advanced practical nurse (APN). Nurses have the skills necessary to change catheters, give postsurgical care, treat wounds or bedsores, and oversee medical equipment. If your loved one is recovering from surgery or an accident, a home health care nurse may be covered by Medicare or other insurance; nurses usually charge $25-$50/hour.

Hospice Care | For end-of-life care at home

Finally, you should know about the end-of-life resources that are available to you in your home. Home hospice care is often covered by Medicare or other insurance; the cost is typically between $20-$50/hour. You'll have a team of workers that may include a care companion, social worker, nurse, and/or chaplain, and they'll help provide your loved one with comfort and pain management. You can find this type of support by searching hospice. You can also search in-home care and ask providers to tell you what hospice options they offer.

Geriatric Care Managers | For guidance about care, finances and more

Geriatric care managers (GCMs) are usually social workers, psychologists, nurses, gerontologists or others with training and experience in various aspects of elder care. Geriatric care managers not only assess a senior’s needs, they can also handle crises (such as an emergency hospitalization), help place the senior in a residential care community, help resolve family conflicts, locate community resources or fill in for family caregivers at doctor’s appointments, among other services.

If you hire a geriatric care manager privately, you can expect to pay between $75 to $250 per hour. Some local government agencies and nonprofits offer geriatric management services for free or on a sliding scale based on income level.

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