In-home senior care has proven to be one of the most effective care solutions available for seniors today. While assisted living facilities and retirement communities are often able to provide seniors with the social interaction that they are looking for with their long-term care options, other seniors ultimately find home care is their best solution.
There are some seniors who prefer to live in their own homes or who may require in-home care in order to thrive in their current situation. However, if that senior is not able to live safely on their own, they will need to hire some outside assistance in order to ensure their safety and well-being. There are a number of different types of in-home care providers, but for many seniors and their families, they must decide between hiring a registered nurse for home care or a non-medical, in-home care provider.
There is no one better option of these two types of caregivers, but knowing the differences between these care providers and insight into what they can offer can go a long way in helping any senior and their family make a smart long-term care choice.
Hiring a Home Caregiver
For many seniors, a home caregiver, or a home helper is the right solution for their care needs. These are competent care providers, but individuals who are not medically trained. These individuals provide seniors with assistance on simple everyday tasks, chores and daily activities. They also provide companionship to seniors who may otherwise be isolated alone in their homes.
Depending on the needs of each individual senior, a home care helper can provide the following services:
- Overnight care
- Bathing assistance
- Meal prep
- General housekeeping
- Shopping and errand assistance
- Companion care
- Overnight care
- Respite care
- General hygiene and dressing help
- Transportation services
- Animal care
These are also areas of care that not all registered nurses will offer since they are non-medically based in nature. Typically, any time a senior needs help with day-to-day activities, but doesn't require medical care, they can thrive with a home care helper. However, this doesn't mean that home care helpers can't help with some areas of healthcare.
A home care helper may be able to help seniors remember to take their medication and even organize their medication for them, but they will not be able to provide some of the other more medically-centered care services that some seniors may require.
Many times seniors and their families can find one of these care providers through an agency, or through a personal recommendation. There are some family members and loved ones that also step in to provide care for seniors in need of a little extra assistance. Typically, it is quite easy to find available home care helpers who are willing to provide this type of support. Some seniors will need full-time care around-the-clock, while others may just need a daily visit for an hour or two. What is most important is that the senior has care when they need it so they can live safely in their homes.
Hiring a Home Care Nurse
Not every senior needs the assistance of a home care nurse, but some may find that it is the best option when they want to stay in their own homes and out of a nursing home or hospital. Many seniors who are married with a spouse living at home, will hire a home health care nurse to stay with their significant other. When seniors are unable to leave their homes to get medical assistance, they may also need to hire a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) to provide them with the care that they need.
If a senior is recovering at home, dealing with a serious illness or is experiencing serious side effects of a condition, such as Sundowners Syndrome for Alzheimer's patients, they may need a more experienced caregiver to help them. Nurses typically do not provide as long of care as standard home helpers, so some seniors will need a RN or LPN to provide them with medical care during the day and a home helper to watch them and help them with daily activities at night.
Some of the services that home care nurses do provide include:
- Wound care
- Diabetes care and treatment
- Post-surgical care
- Injection administration
- IV administration
- Colostomy care
Nurses can also help with medication management and administering medications if seniors and their families want a trained professional helping to prevent common medication mistakes. Registered nurses are often also hired to provide hospice care for seniors who prefer to spend their final days in the comfort of their own home.
While families can rely on nurses to handle much more serious medical responsibilities than the average in-home caregiver, it is important to check with each registered nurse about their specific services before hiring them. Many nurses will also provide bathing assistance and other forms of care, but may not offer help with light housekeeping and companion services.
The right choice between a nurse and a caregiver all depends on the medical need of the senior in question. Many seniors only need an in-home nurse after surgery or when they are dealing with a serious ailment. Many seniors also start with a home care helper and only transition to a home nurse, if their condition worsens. In-home nurses can work independently with seniors, or together with their existing in-home care provider. Every senior is different and every care situation is different as well. Some seniors may need the medical experience and insight from a home care nurse, while others may be able to live safely and confidently with a standard caregiver or home care helper. What is most important is that seniors and their families sit down to assess their options and choose a care provider that ultimately makes the most sense for their specific situation.