In-Home Health Care vs. In-Home Caregiving – What’s the difference?

Kaleigh GagnierHome Care for Seniors

Very few things are really “one size fits all” and nowhere is that truer than in how we age. One can
meet a 50-year-old woman who considers herself a “little old lady” and another who is closing in on 70,
with no desire to retire from work. So, when age-related challenges bring the person or family to looking at
“getting some help” it is crucial to know what kind of help is available. In-home care falls into two
basic categories: healthcare and caregiving. They sound the same and are often used interchangeably,
but they are fundamentally different. How?

In-home health care is just like it sounds, medical care provided at home. Think of it this way – if a
“provider”, as defined by medical insurance, is the one providing the care, it is probably in-home
healthcare. For that matter, if medical insurance is being billed, it is probably in-home health care. Let’s
say a man has surgery and now needs physical therapy in order to transition from a wheelchair to
walking independently. Upon release from the hospital, his physician might prescribe home-based
therapy. The treatment will be essentially the same as if he went to the therapist’s office, but it will be
carried out at home. Other common in-home providers are nurses, occupational and speech therapists.
The defining characteristic is that this is medical care which could be provided at a hospital or clinic,
but is provided at home.

In-home care giving is help of a different color. The emphasis is placed on activities of everyday life,
not specific medical concerns. That isn’t to say that it is always unrelated to medical concerns. Imagine
75-year-old man who breaks his hip, he doesn’t need medical help so much as help to mow the lawn, or
change a lightbulb, or even drive, or cook. If he is also taking pain pills, he might need help paying his bills
or remembering appointments. Age can be like that broken hip. Stiff joints or poor balance can make climbing
a ladder to change a lightbulb risky. Slow reaction-time or poor vision might restrict driving. But if someone
can help with household chores or provide transportation, then maintaining a home or running errands
remain manageable for older adults who might otherwise have to consider moving.

Really, there are myriads of things that fall under the umbrella of in-home care giving. A caregiver can
cook meals, help with bathing or dressing, remind their clients about appointments and medication,
provide transportation to and from doctor visits, do the grocery shopping and errands or help support
their clients doing these things themselves. They can be someone to talk to or playa game with, in
order to ward off depression and isolation and stay mentally sharp. This help is sometimes ongoing and
progressive, but it might also be temporary, following an illness or accident.

Let’s say the same man we talked about earlier, the one who has had surgery, is seeing a physical
therapist but he is doing so as an outpatient, in a clinic. An in-home caregiver can drive him to the
appointment, help keep track of the exercises the therapist assigns, as well as scheduling future
appointments. His caregiver can remind and assist the man to do these exercises between visits. He or
she can also pick up his prescriptions and groceries, take him to the library or bookstore to get
something to read during his convalescence and play some chess when they get home. His caregiver
can make some lunch, sweep and do the dishes, and prepare a casserole for him to heat up for dinner.
Finally, his caregiver can leave a care note for a family member who is checking in after work, outlining
what has been done, and what he may still need help with.

If you or your family is feeling like you could use a little help, sit down and decide whether the help you
need is medical in nature or more support with daily living, and then talk to your doctor, or call an in-home
care provider to work out an individual plan, because one kind of help does not fit all.

It’s our mission to help senior’s live as independently as possible for as long as possible. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings and services.