Get Help from a Home Health Aide

There are many seniors who are in a difficult position where they need some assistance at home, but not enough to justify moving into a nursing home or other care facility. Home health aides are available to provide basic assistance to seniors, but not as much help as a dedicated live-in caregiver.

One of the benefits of hiring a home health aide is you work with the same aide each time. This allows you to develop a relationship with your aide, who customizes your care based on your needs. Home health aides help with a number of services, including:

  • Overseeing and helping administering medication

  • Tracking vital signs

  • Basic housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning and meal preparation

  • Assistance with physical exercise

  • Bathing and dressing

  • Driving to and from appointments or running errands

When to Hire a Home Health Aide

There are several warnings signs to look for if you are deciding whether or not to hire a home health aide. Home health aides are intended for seniors who are mostly independent and able to take care of themselves, but need a little extra assistance around the house. If you find yourself having a difficult time cleaning around your house or cooking meals, hiring a home health aide is a good decision. A home health aide can also help if you are having a harder time moving around the house without assistance.

Finding a Home Health Aide

There are two primary options to hire a home health aide. The recommended process is to go through an agency. Choosing an agency is much easier, since the agency finds potential aides and handles the screening process. This includes performing a background check and checking whether your insurance plan is applicable with the aide. Agencies often check in during the first few weeks to ensure everything is going well between you and the aide. If there are any issues, you can contact the agency, who will act on your behalf to resolve the issue. The National Association of Home Care & Hospice has an online agency locator you can use to find assistance. The Medicare website also has a directory you can search through.

Hiring directly costs less, since you do not have to pay any agency fees. However, it takes much longer to find an aide, and you are responsible for performing any necessary background checks. Hiring directly works best if you have a friend or family member who recommends an aide. Otherwise, you can reach out to hospice centers or senior centers to look for aides. If you live in an independent senior community, there may be additional resources available to help you find an aide. You can also search for health aide networks in your area.

Hiring a Home Health Aide

The exact cost for a home health aide varies based on location and the level of care you need, but in most instances, you can expect to pay between $11 and $15 an hour. How frequently you see a home health aide also varies based on your needs. If you only need limited assistance, you may only see your home health aide every couple of days. In other circumstances you may see your aide every day for multiple hours.

Many insurance plans include coverage for home health aides. This is normally classified as either long-term care or in-home care, depending on your insurance coverage. Your plan determines how much of the costs are covered. Some insurance plans offer a deduction, while other plans cover a set number of hours. Additionally, you may need to hire a home health aide through an approved agency to get your insurance benefits.

Medicare Part A, which is one of the most common insurance options for seniors, includes coverage for home health aides. This is classified as part-time or intermittent services. Another popular senior insurance program, Medicaid, also offers coverage for in-home healthcare. Typically, you must go through a medical evaluation to prove you need the assistance before your coverage begins.

Veterans have access to additional financial assistance, such as the aid and attendance benefit program. This program does not specifically provide funds for a home health aide, but it offers additional payments on top of your VA pensions, which can be used to pay for a health aide.

Selecting the Right Aide

To get the most out of hiring a home health aide, you must choose an aide you are comfortable with. Do not be afraid to make a detailed list of all the tasks you need assistance with. The more detail you can give the aide, the better. Do not be afraid to inconvenience your aide. He or she is there specifically to help you. A good health aide wants to go above and beyond and make sure everything is to your liking. That is one of the reasons why you see the same health aide each time, instead of the agency sending someone new each visit.

You can also prepare a list of questions in advance. Some common questions include asking about his or her experience. He or she may even bring up previous tasks or duties you had not thought of, but would be good to include with your care. It is also important to discuss availability, as well as whether he or she will be responsible for transporting you during visits.