In-Home Care Vs. Home Health Care: Which is Right for You?

If your aging parent wants to age in place in their home, you may have already considered what kind of help they might need to do it. Assistive devices and technology could be a fit to start, but it’s possible at some point they’ll need more hands-on assistance. When it comes to bringing a care provider into the home, there are a couple of options to consider, and the route you take depends on just how much medical assistance your parent or loved one needs. In this article, we’ll discuss medical and non-medical in-home care, how they differ, and which might be right for you.

Medical in-home care/home health care

Medical in-home care is also called home health care. It is clinical, medical supervision provided by a licensed professional. Those who perform home health care have some type of medical training and are required to have a certain number of hours of education/on-the-job experience in order to be certified. Home health aides, CNAs, RNs, and physical therapists are just a few types of professionals that perform home health care. Oftentimes home health care is provided through an agency.

Home health care is often brought in after someone is released from the hospital. It’s usually less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care from a rehab/skilled nursing facility or hospital. Depending on the specific provider’s role and qualifications, home health care might include:

  • Administering medication and/or shots
  • Performing medical tests
  • Monitoring health status
  • Taking care of wounds
  • Performing physical and occupational therapy
  • Assisting with pain management 

Non-medical in-home care 

Non-medical in-home care providers are called caregivers, home care aides, or personal care aides. They’re not authorized to perform any kind of medical supervision or duties, and their role is generally to help with daily activities of life that many seniors have trouble with due to aging or a medical condition. A caregiver helps with personal care, but is also there to be a companion, providing socialization and emotional support as your parent navigates the aging process 

In addition to making sure your parent is safe in their home, caregivers also provide the following duties:

  • Bathing and hygiene
  • Household chores/housekeeping
  • Meal preparation
  • Incontinence and bed care
  • Medication reminders
  • Companionship & socialization
  • Appropriate activities
  • Transportation

While a caregiver doesn’t provide medical care, you’ll still want to make sure they are qualified and trained. Should you choose to hire a private caregiver on your own, this may mean performing background and reference checks. If you go with an agency to provide a caregiver for you, they’ll do that background work as well as provide training and education. Some in-home caregivers are CNAs (certified nursing assistant), but even those who do not have a certificate should still have received training and education on a variety of topics relevant to elder care. 

Which is right for you?

In both situations, the amount of care can range from a few hours per week to a 24/7 live-in situation and can be short-term or long-term. A home health aide may provide some of the personal care duties that a non-medical caregiver does, but that’s not always the case. If you do find one who performs both roles, it’s likely going to be more expensive because they are licensed and have more training. 

There can often be overlap between medical and non-medical care, especially if your parent or loved one has a specific medical condition. Some in-home care agencies provide training on specific conditions or issues such as stroke recovery, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and orthopedic recovery. The caregiver is trained and experienced working with those types of patients and familiar with the challenges. They know the signs and symptoms to keep an eye on and can help with the diet and exercise component of managing the condition. A non-medical caregiver can often meet your needs if your parent is still able to take medication on their own and doesn’t have wounds that need to be changed. 

It’s also important to note the emotional support and companionship role that a caregiver provides. That type of support might not be incorporated into a home health care program. Some agencies even match up caregivers and clients by their personality types and interests to help foster relationships and even friendships between the two. The caregiver and client relationship can be very impactful and can lead to an increased life span and better quality of life.

As you can tell, there are certainly advantages to using a caregiver, but sometimes the situation does require some medical assistance. If that’s the case, you may want to consider utilizing a combo of home health care and non-medical in-home care. This would keep costs lower while still meeting all of the physical and emotional needs of your loved one.


Any type of in-home care (medical or non-medical) can enable your loved one to age in place, providing a bridge in which independence can still be maintained in the home but under safer and healthier circumstances. Non-medical care can work for your parent if they just need some help around the house or are just feeling lonely, but it can also work if they have a specific medical condition or are coming home from the hospital to recover from a procedure. 

The main factor in deciding whether home health or non-medical care (or a combination of the two) is what exact duties you need the provider to perform. If you do need some medical assistance, determine how much and if it makes sense to utilize both types of care. It’s likely that an affordable program that meets all your parent’s needs can be developed with a combination of the two. 

If you want to learn more about the special, condition-specific programs we offer or you want to talk with someone about your situation, we are here to help! We offer a complimentary discovery call, assessment, and home inspection to personalize our services to meet you and your family’s needs. Learn more about how it works here

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