How can you tell if you or a loved one should inquire about home health care?
It’s rare that the need is blatant; more often than not, our health evolves slowly, and so does our need for care. Without something as obvious as a switch flipping on, we may be missing the signals that home health care is now appropriate.
The need for home health care depends not only on a person’s health status, but also on several factors concerning daily life and ability; accurate assessment requires getting a big-picture snapshot of a person’s daily life, routine, and challenges. Read on to discover the crucial contributors to a person’s need for home health care, and try our helpful tool to review the major risk factors and get a quick recommendation.
Unlike private duty care (help with things like hygiene and daily tasks), home health care centers around skilled medical care, prescribed by a physician. Therefore, the need for home health care does have a medical basis. But this could be based on several things, including:
- Overall status. Home health care can be helpful not only in cases of rehab or recovery, but also with management of chronic conditions, or getting a complex health status into better balance.
- Medication management. Taking four or more medications (also known as ‘polypharmacy’) can raise the risk of a skipped or improper dose, which could impair a patient’s health or even lead to a hospitalization.
- Recent changes. A hospital visit, a new diagnosis, a fall (or history of falling), or another noteworthy health setback may signal a need for skilled home care.
An important part of staying safe and well at home is being able to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) with minimal or no risk. Based on this link between independence and health, the following are also considered when weighing the need for home health care:
- Home safety. If navigating certain pathways or doorways is difficult, if it’s hard to see dark areas, or if using bathroom fixtures (e.g. toilet, shower, bath) or kitchen appliances causes anxiety, advice from a home health clinician can reduce fall risk and improve safety.
- Everyday aptitude. Regularly requiring help with one or more ADLs — like bathing, getting dressed, or preparing meals — is another area of need that home health care is equipped to address.
The ‘home’ component of ‘home health care’ sets it apart. Therefore, evaluating the need for home health care includes determining that home (wherever home may be, including nursing homes and assisting living) is indeed the most reasonable setting for care. Some of the considerations involved in this aspect include:
- Ambulation. Needing assistance to walk or maneuver, whether from a caregiver or from medical equipment like a walker or wheelchair, could signal a need for home care.
- Ability to leave home. From difficulty on exterior stairs or paths to an inability to drive, if leaving home is a barrier to essential medical treatment, then home care may be more appropriate.
Quick guidance on the road to in-depth assessment
The need and suitability for home health care varies for each patient and situation. For some, one select indicator can be enough to signal a clear need. In other cases, several factors in combination could add up to reveal a potential benefit.
The best way to assess whether home care is appropriate is through an in-depth discussion of your specific situation. However, there is a way to get some quick guidance first: Residential Home Health has developed a simple online tool for this exact purpose.
If you’re wondering whether home health care would benefit you or your loved one, click on the image below to quickly take our 15-question, 60-second Home Care Assessment and get an instant recommendation. Or you can call (888)930-WELL (9355) to speak with a Home Care Specialist about your specific situation today.