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Home Care vs Home Health Aide

Understanding the difference between non-medical home care and medical home health is important for determining the right care plan for your loved one. Both can be critical to recovery and ongoing quality of life.

Non-medical home health aide goes by a couple of different terms. Home care may also be called personal care or private duty care. Medical home health care or in-home nursing care, on the other hand, is usually referred to as home health. Home health care is medical and prescribed by a doctor, while home care is non-medical and does not require a doctor’s prescription.

Understanding Home Care

With home health aide, our caregivers can support seniors with non-medical activities of daily living.

Let’s look at an example where the home health aides provided by a home care agency can improve the quality of life for a senior:

"Daniel is a retired physician who lives alone in his own home. Daniel’s wife died over three years ago and he prides himself in being able to live independently. However, two years ago Daniel suffered a stroke that affected his walking, thinking and mood. He seems to have more trouble remembering things and sounds depressed. Daniel’s son, David, who lives out of state is concerned that his father is not taking proper care of himself. Specifically, he worries that his father’s nutrition is suffering.

Daniel tells David that he is microwaving meals and getting plenty to eat, but David is not convinced. David is also concerned about Daniel driving to the store to get groceries. David talks to his father about bringing home health aides in to assist Daniel with shopping and cooking. At first Daniel is reluctant, stating that he can take care of himself and is doing just fine. But with some prodding and the suggestion that this is a “trial” convinces him to give it a try.

David arranges home care aides to assist Daniel with shopping and cooking meals 7 nights a week. Daniel’s nutrition improves and the stress he felt having to make his own meals, decreases. The home care aides also do the shopping for meals with a list that Daniel provides.

An unexpected benefit is the companionship that the caregiver provides. As a result, Daniel’s mood improves as well."

How do Home Health Aides Improve Quality of Life for Seniors?

Although home health aides employed from a home care agency don’t provide medical services (such as wound care, nursing, or medication administration), there is so much essential support they can provide, including:

Companionship and Socialization

Loneliness can adversely affect both physical and mental health for seniors. A home health aide can help promote socialization by being a nurturing and comforting companion. They can provide conversation, engage in activities, or attend events with your loved one to make sure they are living with a sense of meaning and purpose.

Nutrition and Hydration

Nutrition and hydration are key to healthy aging. A home health aide can make balanced, satisfying meals for seniors. They can also encourage adequate nutrition, track fluid intake, and shop for groceries. If your loved one has special dietary restrictions, the aide can help keep them on track and make sure they are adhering to these in their diet.


Transportation can be a barrier to seniors living at home. If an older person cannot or should not drive, home health aides can provide this valuable service. Home health aides can take seniors to doctor’s appointments, shopping, medication pick-ups, and other errands.

Dressing, Bathing and Transferring

If you’ve broken an arm or leg, you know how difficult it can be to get dressed or bathe. Everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and driving become challenging as well. Imagine how difficult it must be for your parent or loved one!

A home health aide can assist with helping seniors get dressed and out of bed. They can help a client take a shower and monitor their walking. Home health aides can also help him or her transfer from bed or to the toilet. Even without injury, these activities may become difficult for seniors and having a home health aide in the home means they will have the support they need to maintain a high quality of life.

Physical Fitness

When recovering from surgery or illness, physical activity is crucial. Physical therapists provided by home healthcare are a good start and hiring a home health aide can provide the extra support seniors need to recover quickly. Home health aides from a home care agency can help reinforce and encourage physical therapy activities when the physical therapist is not there. They can provide encouragement and instill a sense of confidence in your loved one.

Movement is also important for achieving healthy longevity. Home health aides can accompany seniors in on walks, rounds of golf or classes at the local senior center, depending on their ability and interests.

Recovery from Surgery or Illness

There will be times when seniors need to recover from a hospitalization, an illness, a rehab stay or general decline that results in frailty. Regardless of the reason, recovery in older adults generally takes longer and coexisting medical problems can make it even more difficult to get better. A home health aide can provide the extra support they need. Developing a thorough care plan with the Home Care Assistance Care Team, family and client can promote a safe recovery.

Medication Reminders

It can adversely affect the health of your loved one if they are not taking some medications, missing doses, or taking medications at the wrong time. Home health aides can remind your loved one when it’s time to take each medication and check the medication pill box for accuracy. Home health aides report any problems to the family or the nurse from home health, as well as the agency’s Client Care Manager. They can also pick medications and notify the appropriate people when medication is running low.

Bob and Judy have been married for over 40 years. They have three children who all live out of state. Judy has noticed that Bob has become more forgetful. He asks Judy where his clothes are and how to put his shirts on in the morning. He meets with a group of men at the senior center each week and has called Judy saying that he got lost on the way there. He has started asking Judy the names of their children and where they live.

Alarmed, Judy takes Bob to see his physician. The doctor does some memory tests and concludes that Bob has dementia. They talk about Bob’s current symptoms and the fact that things will get worse over time. Judy is already feeling the stress of not knowing if Bob will get lost and having to help him with basic activities.

Bob’s physician recommends calling a home care agency to get some help for Bob and take some of the stress off of Judy. He recommends a company and Judy calls as soon as she gets home. She arranges for home health aides to come to the home twice a day. Some of the tasks they perform are to help Judy. They assist with laundry and light housekeeping. The home health aides take Bob to the senior center so that he can continue meeting his friends and not worry about getting lost. They also assist him with dressing, giving him reminders about where to find his clothes and how to get dressed.

Judy feels immense relief having the caregivers help her and Bob. Bob begins to relax too. He enjoys the companionship of the caregivers. Although Judy knows there will be challenges ahead, she feels more confident now that she has support.

Are You Ready To Get Started?

Home Care Assistance can help you or a loved one today. Contact us now for your complimentary in-home assessment.

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