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Nursing Home Versus Home Health Care

Often as people age, they reach a point when they can’t care for themselves due to their health, physical limitations or risk of falling. They need assistance. Sometimes it is just for medications and regular health status checks such as blood pressure or glucose. Other times, they need more help, such as with personal care like bathing and dressing in addition to medical needs.

Home Health CareThe best choice for you or your loved one will be made based on individual comfort, the level of support needed, you personal finance situation and other considerations. By looking at these factors, you can make the decision easier when it comes time to make the move to a nursing home or hire home health care.

Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

When around-the-clock nursing care is needed, one of the most common choices for 24-hour assistance is nursing home care. In a nursing home, the patient is monitored at all times. This means their health is better managed than it would be if they were still living at home. Because there is constant assistance, the risk of falls is minimized. If an emergency does occur, trained staff is on the scene within moments.

There are also other related options. Assisted living homes offer a lower level of help than nursing homes. Assisted living allows some independence, and residents live in apartment-like housing. Nursing homes have trained medical staff on call 24 hours a day, and most of the living quarters resemble hospital wards.

Home Health Care

Home health care brings trained medical workers including nurses into the home, instead of having the senior move into a nursing home or similar facility. These care workers can help with personal care, daily living tasks and medical care. Each patient’s care is managed on an individual basis, meaning that they get exactly the assistance they need and not services they don’t. This allows them to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. They can also continue to live among friends and family, and in the home they know and love.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The primary benefit of at-home care over living in a nursing home is that people who need assistance can continue to live in their own home. As we age, many of us will fear losing our independence and no longer being able to live on our own in our own home. Nursing homes are also considerably more expensive. Nursing care at home makes it possible to remain in your house, but still get the assistance that is needed at a lower cost. Of course, a nursing home offers more in-depth care around-the-clock, and someone would be on-site immediately in an emergency and this may not be the case with a home medical worker but this isn’t always necessary. Often, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to staying in their own home. By choosing home care, they get to sleep in their own bed and rest in their favorite chair.

Where finance is concerned, the costs can vary widely. This is true for both nursing homes and in-home care. In general, home care will be cheaper than nursing home care because you do not have to cover the cost of meals and room and board. Some health insurance may help with the costs of home care, although many policies will not. A lot depends on the cause. For this reason many people have begun looking into “Long Term Care policies” to cover the expense of home health care. Approximately 12 million people in the U.S. require some form of home health care.  Conditions requiring home health care most frequently include diabetes, heart failure, chronic ulcer of the skin, osteoarthritis, and hypertension.

According to Becker’s Hospital review, “The rate of home healthcare use for women 65 and over was 55 percent higher than that of men… The most popular home healthcare services for patients 65 and over are: skilled nursing (84 percent); physical therapy (40 percent); assistance with activities of daily living (37 percent); homemaker services (17 percent); occupational therapy (14 percent); wound care (14 percent); and dietary counseling (14 percent).”

In addition to those with home health care, at any given time more than 1.4 million people are in Nursing homes around the U.S. and some newer retirement communities are creating living places with the ability to have home health care and nursing home facilities right on site so the transition between them is relatively minimal.

At least 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point; more than 40 percent will need care in a nursing home. The national average median cost of one year in a private nursing home room is $74,208 but in many areas the cost of a nursing home stay is considerably higher. Based on the average length of stay in a nursing home of 2.8 years, a person needing care today would need more than $200,000 for a long term care event requiring a private nursing home room.

The problem with long term care insurance is the determining when a person is sufficiently “disabled” to qualify for assistance. Most policies require that you be unable to perform “X” number of self-care items such as bathing, feeding, taking medications, risk of falls, etc. But even then there is often an “elimination period”.

According to Investopedia, “In general, the shorter the elimination period, the more expensive the policy and vice versa. Typically, most insurance policies have the most attractive rates for 90-day elimination periods. A policy with anything longer than 90 days, while less expensive, may not save you much for the extra risk you take on. Also, when choosing a long-term care insurance policy, some policies require the elimination period to consist of consecutive days of disability. For example, if your elimination period was 90 days, you would need to be in a hospital or disabled for 90 consecutive days before any coverage begins – accumulating 90 days in total over a specified period of time (i.e. six months) would not qualify you for coverage. Before buying LTC insurance, make sure you know the terms of the elimination period.”

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