If you have a parent or spouse nearing retirement age, chances are good that at some point you'll be in the market for home health care.
People turning 65 today have an almost 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services or support in their remaining years, and 1 in 5 will need such care for more than five years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
With longer life expectancy, “the risk of outliving savings, paying for elder care and being unable to leave a legacy to our children has increased,” says Aaron Schindler, a certified financial planner and owner of Care Concierge NY. The company provides long-term, in-home health services in the greater New York City region and New Jersey.
Those trends are fueling rapid growth in the home health care field. According to the most recent data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were nearly 3.5 million home health aides (HHAs) and personal care aides (PCSs) working nationwide in May 2020, up from 3.3 million two years earlier. The BLS projects their ranks to swell by 33 percent by 2030, much faster than the average across all occupations.
When to look for a home health aide
When your loved one is no longer able to care for himself or herself or a family caregiver's ability to help has been exhausted, it may be time to consider a paid caregiver. Signs to look out for include these:
- Leaving the stove on
- Wandering away from home
- Not eating regularly or nutritiously
- Not bathing regularly
- Falling frequently or having difficulty walking without help
- Not driving safely to doctors’ offices or other appointments
- Not preparing simple meals
You may get some pushback from those who say they don't want or need help. Every situation is unique and everyone's needs are different, but when you feel your loved one can't be safe without help, discuss the options and allow the recipient of the care to help determine what he or she is most comfortable doing.
Health aide's duties, responsibilities
Home health aides are considered health care paraprofessionals and must meet state-set training requirements. (Other types of home health workers are sometimes lumped together under the title of home health aides; see the box.)