Home health aides can be a great addition to your at home care team for an older parent or loved one. HHAs add a new dimension to the at home care that your loved one may need to remain independent and in their home. They are not nurses. While they can provide some types of assistance, there are also many restrictions to what they can do. A skilled nursing staff may be necessary depending on the specific needs of your loved one. What can a skilled nursing professional do that a home care giver can’t, and vice versa? Are the capabilities of a HHA sufficient to allow your senior loved one to remain in an in-home care setting? Or would an assisted living community allow them more safety and a better quality of life during their golden years? These are questions every family has to answer for themselves taking into account the individual needs of their own loved one. Let’s explore a little more about what a in-home aide is and what they can and cannot do. This information will provide you with a better idea of whether in-home care with the assistance of a HHA is still the best choice for your senior loved one.
What Does a Home Health Aide Do?
A home health care aide provides basic care for your senior loved one who may need assistance with their day-to-day activities. Basic care activities, or activities of daily living are things like helping with personal hygiene, dressing, grooming, and assisting with eating. . Also, if your loved one needs help remembering their medication or getting to and from the restroom, an aide can help with those needs as well. It is important to note that a home health care aide cannot, under most circumstances, administer medication. Some home HHAs will also do light housekeeping for your loved one, such as the dishes and helping them start the laundry. Home health aides, though, do not provide full housekeeping services.
One of the most important roles that home health care aides fill is companionship. Seniors who remain living on their own in an in-home care setting often experience loneliness and isolation. This is especially true if a spouse has passed on or other family members do not live close by. Many HHAs provide companionship visits. These are a great way to increase social interaction for a homebound senior. Sometimes for a homebound senior, assisted living is a better choice because it can provide a sense of community and foster relationships with other residents who the senior can even better relate to.
What is the Difference between a HHA, a CNA and a Nurse?
With all of the different titles, sometimes it can get a bit confusing about which one does what. Although their jobs can seem similar, and sometimes overlap, there are big differences between what an HHA, a CAN and a nurse each do and the amount of training and education that they each must have. Home health aides, as described above are usually required to have two weeks of training. A CNA or certified nursing assistant is the next level above a home health aide. Unlike the HHA, a CNA can administer medications and take vital signs as well as dress sutures and change wound bandages. CNAs work under the direct supervision of a RN or LPN, regularly communicating the needs of the patient. Most CNAs work in hospital settings, nursing homes, or senior communities. Because CNAs work so closely with both the patient and the upper levels of the healthcare team, they are able to optimize patient care through observation and better communication. The training required to be a CNA takes approximately four to six weeks and then they must pass a state level certification exam.
LPNs and RNs are nurses. An LPN, or a licensed practical nurse provides your loved one with nursing care and tends to their comfort. LPNs complete about a year of education through an approved educational program to earn a diploma in practical nursing and a required a certain amount of clinical experience. An RN, or registered nurse works more on the administrative side of things and administer medication and treatments as well as helping to educate the patient and family. RNs go to school for two to four years to graduate from an accredited program, must pass an examination and obtain a state license in order to practice.
Is a Home Health Aide Right for the Job?
If your family and your loved one are trying to determine whether in-home care or assisted living is the best choice, there are lots of things to be considered. Everyone wants to maintain their independence, but sometimes a senior can be more independent with good care than they can be trying to remain at home. If an extra pair of hands, a friend and an occasional reminder to take medicine is all the care your loved one needs, a home health aide is a great option for you! If your beloved senior needs more specialized care, or care beyond basic office hours, a senior community is going to be a better option for you.
The Best Quality of Life
There are a lot of things that a home health aide can do to extend the amount of time that a loved one can remain at home with in-home care. However, sometimes in-home care can lead to what is only an illusion of independence. If a senior is homebound, feeling isolated and often forced to ask for help, they may find that a senior living community actually gives them more independence than in-home care does! A senior living community allows seniors opportunities to socialize with organized activities and outings, makes it easy to ask for hel