Staying in Your Home – A Review of Assistance Options

Don’t confuse Home Health with Home Care

Even when an older adult’s health declines, surveys show that the majority of Seniors want to live at home for as long as possible. Living at home provides a sense of independence and familiarity that is often not found outside the home.

However, Seniors often wonder about what options exist for in-home care and the terminology can feel confusing and overwhelming. To provide clarification, in-home care generally is divided into two distinct categories: Home Health and Home Care. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but they are two different services provided.

Home Health – Home Health is clinical, medical care provided by skilled, medical professionals, including registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. It is not designed to be long-term and is often prescribed by a doctor following a hospitalization or surgery to aid in rehabilitation. Home Health services, for homebound individuals, may be able to provide a non-clinical caregiver to assist with basic personal care and bathing, but the focus of the services is skilled, medical care.

  • Typical services may include wound care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medication administration, and nursing services.
  • Home Health services are covered by Medicare when prescribed by a physician. Medicaid also pays for qualified individuals.

Home Care – Home Care is provided by caregivers, or care aides, who are trained to assist Seniors with activities of daily living (ADL’s) and/or companionship. Home care aides may be Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA’s) but do not require certification. This is “non-clinical” care provided to Seniors who may need assistance to remain in their home. These services can be on-going for as long as they are needed.

  • Typical services may include meal preparation, house cleaning, assistance with dressing, bathing and grooming, transportation, companionship, and medication reminders.
  • Home Care services are not covered by Medicare. Payment options include private pay (typically approximately $20-$25 per hour), Long-Term Care Insurance, Medicaid for qualified, low-income individuals, and the VA Aide and Attendance pension.

Typically, Home Health services alone are not sufficient support for Seniors wanting to remain in their home, if they also need assistance with activities of daily living. However, many Home Care agencies exist that provide excellent service options to support Seniors and their family members. Additional supports, including Meals on Wheels for homebound individuals, and medical-alert devices, may also be utilized. A combination of Home Health services, Home Care services, community resources and family support is often the key to Seniors successfully and safely remaining in their homes.

We are here to help if you have questions, would like assistance with healthcare coordination, or need additional information or referrals to resources in your community.


Matt Rust, who specializes in wealth preservation & Tom Packer, Elder Law Attorney are presenting an EDUCATIONAL WORKSHOP about the cost and realities of long-term care. Thursday, June 13 at 6:00 pm at Tailwind Wealth Strategies – 3 NW Main Street, Blackfoot The biggest threat to your retirement income is related to longevity. There are benefits and options you may not be aware of.

We know it’ll be worth your time! (Refreshments!)

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

May 2019