What is “home care”? How is it different from “home health”?
This is a question that is important for anyone who has an aging parent, relative, or acquaintance who they are trying to help deal with disability, or retain their independence by remaining at home. If keeping a parent or loved one at home is the goal, then understanding clearly what home care models are available is important.
Most of us think of the traditional “visiting nurse” when we think of home care, but this is actually usually home health care. We kind of get stuck in what I call the medical model mode of thinking. When we think of care, we assume services are designed like most of our medical care services to help us recover from an illness, and usually just short term. This kind of care is paid for by Medicare or health insurance, and comes most often after a stay in the hospital.
Home care as provided by companies like Right at Home is substantially different in its focus. We provide many services all geared to help maintain the quality of life in a home setting. This can be an array of care, including support with everyday activities like bathing and dressing, preparing and serving nutritious meals, running errands and keeping up with housework–in other words, a lot of stuff that family members do if they have the time or capability.
The problem is, and you know this already if you are caring for an aging parent–it is not always possible for family members to help with this sort of care. Without it, the quality of life of the aging parent continues to decline. They don’t eat well, they don’t take care of basic hygiene, and if they are forgetful they can do things that create a danger to them without someone checking in.
For further information, check out the definition at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_care. For an informative newsletter on caring for an aging parent see www.rightathome.net and click on newsletter signup.