There are two main types of care for seniors who are aging in place and need help in caring for themselves:

  1. The first is formal, which means that a paid professional takes care of the older adult.  
  2. The second type is an informal caregiver, which covers many of the same responsibilities and, in many instances, more than a formal caregiver but is not paid for their caregiving duties. The typical informal caregiver for seniors is a family member, or someone in the older adult’s close social network, or in some cases a roommate. 

See How do people get paid to take care of a family member?

Action

To find more about what benefits are available to you, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) provides a BenefitsCheckUp which offers a comprehensive, free online tool that connects older adults with benefits they may qualify for

What is the difference between a companion and a caregiver? What about Home Health Services? 

To ensure that the home is safe for an older adult, the physical environment is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. For example, thinking through how social networks will communicate with each other, realistic transportation options, how grocery shopping will be done, as well as housekeeping, are just a few considerations that will need to be built into an Aging in Place plan. 

The good news is that every county in Colorado has a network of resources that can help older adults to remain in their homes. Some resources are free community-based services available to all seniors regardless of income and some that you will need to pay for.  In addition, there are resources just for those who are low-to-moderate income or disabled. 

If an older adult needs a significant amount of care and there is not a network of family and friends to help out, consider hiring a professional caregiver. 

What are the different types of home care?

There are 4 types of care, including:

  1. Senior Companions: Provide company for an older adult who lives alone. These senior companions, as they are sometimes called, might spend time talking with or playing cards with their older adult clients. They can also take them out to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, bring them to a local museum, or even take them to a doctor’s appointment.
  2. In-home caregivers: These caregivers are considered “non-skilled,” meaning they cannot provide medical care, but are available to help older adults with activities of daily living or ADLs, that includes everything from personal care like toileting to bathing to grocery shopping and house cleaning.
  3. Home health care: These skilled caregivers are provided under a physician’s order. The care is short-term and is delivered or supervised by nurses and therapists (physical, occupational, and speech). This type of care is typically, but not exclusively provided while someone is recovering from a serious illness, surgery or accident.
  4. Informal Caregivers: Informal caregivers are people from all walks of life with many commonalities when it comes to the caregiver experience. For example, many face decision-making challenges stemming from financial stress and caregiver burnout are among the challenges that caregivers face.

    Informal caregivers watching over seniors are far from alone. In fact, it’s estimated that over 40 million adults in the U.S. serve as caregivers: made up of relatives, friends, and neighbors who provide unpaid care to older adults in need, according to Pew Research. 

What is the cost difference between in-home health care and assisted living?

It’s also worth noting, that if an older adult needs professional caregiving it might make sense to do a cost comparison of in-home care vs. care in a senior living facility. A good resource to look at to understand the costs of higher levels of care is Genworth. Genworth sells long term care insurance and also provides a Cost of Care Survey tool that can calculate the cost of long term care across the U.S. 

In-home Care Cost per Hour and Services Comparison

TitleWhoProvideGet StartedCost
Care CompanionsTrained but not “certified” aidesCompanionship plus errands, getting a meal ready, taking on outings, grocery shopping, etc.Look for Companions; specify that you don’t need personal care such as toileting or bathing.$
In-home caregivers“Non-skilled” caregivers such as CNA’Toileting, bathing, and personal care in addition to what a Care Companion does. Cannot provide medical services.Look for agencies that provide “Non-medical” care.$$
Home Health careNurses and physical, occupational, and speech therapistsEvaluations and medical care or therapy under a physician’s order, usually for short term (6-8 weeks) Start with your doctor because you’ll need a prescription for both an evaluation and treatment.$$$ but may be covered by insurance or veterans plan. The evaluation is often covered or free.
Respite careThe qualifications of the respite caregiver will depend on the complexity of the situationRelieve the caregiver for anything from a few hours to weeks.Contact these organizations: Colorado Respite Coalition (CRC), ARCH National Respite Network and Resource CenterVaries with the complexity of the situation

Knowing the cost is a first step to helping you plan for it. For example, according to Genworth, for 2019 the average cost of assisted living in Colorado was $4,095 per month, while a nursing home semi-private room was $8,197 a month. Understanding the cost of higher levels of care often helps an older person and their family get a better sense of what they can afford and therefore create a realistic plan as to how and where they want to live. 

Action

In addition to your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) there are other good resources to help you find the services you or your loved one need such as United Way 2-1-1, senior centers, and other local non-profit and for-profit organizations. Many professional in-home care companies can also provide resources regardless of whether they are doing the actual care.