Industry surveys reveal 90 percent of seniors want to remain at home as they age despite increasing health problems or decreased abilities. They often are resistant to moving or assistance due to misconceptions about home care, which include:

  • Home care is only for the very ill

Those who are ill might need home health care, but home care is different. Home health care is a medical service prescribed by a physician with care provided by licensed medical professionals. Services are paid by Medicare, Medicaid and supplemental health insurance. Home care services are not medical and do not require a physician order.

Services are provided by caregivers and may include meal preparation, shopping, transportation, light housework or personal care. Such services are charged by the hour and are private pay or through long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages or the Veterans Aid and Attendance program.

  • Home care costs too much

Home care is one of the most affordable options, partly because of the flexibility of an hourly service. Most seniors request from four to six hours per visit.

According to the 2016 Genworth Cost of Care survey, the national median is $21.94 per hour for home care. They also report the following median monthly costs:

Assisted Living: National, $3,628; South Carolina, $3,000; Hilton Head area, $3,445.

Nursing home (private): National, $7,698; South Carolina, $6,596; Hilton Head area, $8,517.

  • I have no say about who comes into my home

Reputable licensed caregiving companies will provide a free care consultation to determine what the needs are and then assign the most compatible and skilled caregiver to meet those needs. The client controls the schedule and always has the right to replace the caregiver if she or he is not the right fit.

  • Home care will take away my independence

Seniors who live alone run the risk of falls and other problems. A professional caregiver helps keep seniors safer and enhances the quality of life and provides peace of mind for the family. Clients are encouraged to be as independent as possible.

  • All caregiving services are the same

Not all caregivers or caregiving companies are the same. Caregivers can be grouped into three different categories: agency employee, independent contractor with a registry, and independent or private caregivers.

Agency caregivers are employees who were carefully screened, trained, bonded and insured and provide care under agency supervision.

An independent contractor with a registry is not their employee, but is recruited, screened and referred to the senior. The client becomes the employer and assumes all the risks and responsibilities of hiring, scheduling, and paying federal and state payroll taxes.

Independent caregivers are responsible for marketing themselves. The client is the employer with the same responsibilities listed above. The independent caregiver will probably not be bonded or covered by workers’ compensation or liability insurance, leaving the senior very vulnerable.

Rachel Carson, Certified Senior Advisor, is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care, serving the Lowcountry since 1997.