Is geriatric home care right for you?

Home care can assist with light housework, companionship, transportation, meal preparation, and medication reminders – among other things.

By Barrett White


Navigating geriatric home health care is not an easy task. If you think that home care may be the best option for yourself or a loved one, but are unsure how to even begin the process, you are not alone. Before jumping in with both feet, it’s important to understand the difference between home care, home health and geriatric care management – three distinct forms of care. Some forms of care are covered by insurance, and others are considered elective, and therefore are not. In the case of elective care, the family may be required to pay for the services out of pocket.

Home Care is not considered a medical service. Home care is provided to seniors who wish to “age in place,” and require assistance within their place of residence, such as their home, retirement community, rehabilitation center, etc. Home care promotes an individual’s independence and quality of life by also providing transportation, companionship, and light housework.

Geriatric Care Management focuses on managing the individual’s needs, so as to promote greater independence. Geriatric care managers may assess and monitor an individual’s needs, and coordinate care for them as required, such as financial management, counseling services, and relaying pertinent information to family members.

Home Health is prescribed by a physician. These services are also provided in the individual’s home (or retirement community, etc.), but are clinical in nature. Such services may include nursing, therapeutic service, or a combination of the two.

While Home Health services are usually covered by Medicaid (as they are clinical in nature), Home Care and Geriatric Care Management are considered elective and would often be considered out-of-pocket costs for the family and/or individual.

If you believe that you or a loved one may benefit from a form of home care above, it’s best to look into the process early rather than waiting until the need for care is dire. With early intervention, a care provider can come in and begin helping with smaller tasks before the need grows, helping the individual and family adjust into care. With proper care, older adults can remain independent at home longer.

Should you go the route of hiring a caregiver, the choices are many. It is always best however, to hire licensed professionals. A private (and often unlicensed) care giver may be less expensive, but this can carry significant risk for many reasons, from liability to taxes.

For more information on hiring a caregiver for yourself or a loved one, speak with a Legacy geriatrician.