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Types of In-Home Care Providers

Choosing a home health aide, medical professional and more

There's no place like home. That's why most people want to stay there. But as people age, that can be a daunting challenge. So families often need to hire outsiders to help a loved one remain comfortable and independent.

See also: Choosing an agency for in-home care.

If you're in that situation, the first step is to figure out exactly what kind of help you need. You can do this on your own, or ask a doctor, geriatric care manager, social worker or hospital discharge planner for advice.

These are the types of in-home caregivers you will likely consider:

Medical Professionals: Depending on the care needed, you can arrange for a nurse, physical therapist and possibly even a doctor to visit your loved one. These people generally provide only skilled care and medical services.

Home Health Aides: These are people who have received formal training and have passed a competency test. They may be certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or personal care aides. They generally work for Medicare-certified home health or hospice agencies that are regulated by state and federal laws and receive reimbursements from Medicare and/or Medicaid. Typically, home health aides are supervised by a nurse or other medical professional, and the agency that employs them assumes full liability for care. Aides may provide basic health services such as checking a patient's pulse and temperature, administering medications, changing wound dressings or helping with prescribed exercises. Experienced home health aides may assist with medical equipment.

Home Care Aides: If someone doesn't require in-home health care but could use assistance with household chores and personal care, you may need a home care aide, also called a homemaker or a personal care aide. There is no certification required for this position, but many home care aides are employed by agencies and are supervised by a licensed nurse or social worker. Others are employed directly by an older adult or his family.

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