September 15, 2010

Home health care is an incredible service that helps the elderly live at home as long as possible. A lot of the care that’s provided in a long-term nursing home can also be provided in the senior’s home. It’s typically used by seniors who need to recover from an illness or injury. The care is typically provided by licensed nurses, therapists, and home health aides.

How do I get home health care?

If the doctor or hospital doesn’t suggest home care, you can always ask them and an assessment can be done. You can also contact a home health agency directly yourself. Skilled nurses, occupational and physical therapy, as well as speech therapy can assist in the home. Once the patient is referred by a physician, a skilled nurse will go out to your home and do the initial assessment to see if you qualify for home care. The nurse will also determine if you need other services such as physical or occupational therapy to assist with ambulation and activities of daily living. A speech therapist may be needed to assess swallowing, or a dietitian to assist with the proper nutrition that may be required. The home care plan is discussed with the patient and their family as needed. The nurse then reports back to the physician and obtains any needed orders.

What does home health care do? Home health care deals mostly with the medical aspect of being at home but there’s also a home care component consisting of a home health aid to assist with bathing and light cleaning. Most home care is for a specified period of time, that is, until the patient has improved. But there are times when this service is needed on a continuous bases; like when a urinary catheter needs changed monthly.

Medicare will pay for most services if the physician gives a referral, the patient is homebound and needs intermittent nursing, physical therapy, or speech therapy, and the home health agency is approved by the Medicare program. If you have the means, all these services can be purchased out of pocket.

Home care is a wonderful service that allows seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible.


The Department of Health & Human Services has fact sheets and an eldercare locator.

The National Institute on Aging assists in where to start and how much it will cost.

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