Do I Need A Nurse Or A Senior Caregiver?

By Betsy Gold, Co-Founder, LeanOnWe

senior caregiver

My Mom Can't Put in Her Own Eye Drops — Now What?

My mom needs help with putting in eyedrops. Does this mean I need a registered nurse or a senior caregiver? My dad has a Hoyer lift to transfer him out of bed. Should I find someone skilled or can a strong companion help him? My grandmother fell and needs help bathing, toileting, and preparing meals. Does a nurse's aide do that or can my housekeeper help her?

» Download our free guide to home care, "From Crisis to Caregiver."

Home Health Aide, Certified Nurse Aide, or Caregiver. Which is right for me?
Figuring out what type of home help you need can be a confusing mix of medical terms and titles that don't always explain the training. Sometimes, families choose to seek the help of a geriatric care manager to evaluate the entire situation, from medical needs to finances, and present the best options.

In general, most people who need help at home require the services of one of three types of caregivers: home health aides, certified nurse aides, or companions. Most do not need the skills of a registered nurse, even if the idea of having a nurse provides comfort to the patient.

What’s a Certified Nurse’s Aide v. a Home Health Aide?

In general, a Home Health Aide is trained to work with a patient in the home, and a Certified Nurse’s Aide is trained to work with a patient in a facility such as a nursing home or rehabilitation center. The training and type of care provided can vary from state to state.

What Does a Home Care Nurse Do?

A home care nurse is either a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who offers nursing-level medical care to individuals in their home. Home care nurses provide treatments that may include:

  • Wound care
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Tracheotomy care
  • Diabetes management
  • Ostomy care
  • Injections
  • Infusions
  • Medication administration
  • Post-surgical care

Other medical providers—such as registered dietitians and physical, speech, and occupational therapists—may also offer specialized healthcare and rehabilitation services in the home.

What Does an In-Home Personal Caregiver Do?

An in-home caregiver provides non-medical assistance for adults needing personal care, including daily tasks. Professional in-home caregivers help older adults maintain their independence, continue living at home, and age safely and comfortably.

Caregiver tasks may include:

  • Assistance with grooming, bathing, toileting, and dressing
  • Meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Errands and shopping
  • Medication reminders
  • Assistance with mobility and transfers
  • Transportation
  • Companionship

Can you hire both a nurse and a caregiver?

You don’t have to choose either a nurse or a caregiver, you can hire both.

Don’t be afraid of mixing it up. It may be a sound decision to hire a nurse to come in for an hour to take care of basic medical needs, and then hire a caregiver to take over duties from there.

Do Medicare or Medicaid cover home care?

If you qualify for a nurse from Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance, you will likely receive nursing services only for a few times a week for a short period of time. There are a variety of ways to pay for senior home care services, read more in our guide to paying for home care.

Caregivers might be all you need

When skilled medical care isn’t required and independent living is no longer possible, a caregiver could be the solution. Private-hire caregivers offer families peace of mind knowing that your loved one is getting one-on-one attention. Work agreements can detail specific tasks such as laundry, meal preparation, light cleaning, and driving to appointments. Companionship and assistance with daily needs allow seniors to age in place in the familiar surroundings of their own home.

Looking for a reliable, highly recommended caregiver? LeanOnWe can help. Call us today at 844-532-6669.

About The Author

Betsy is a LeanOnWe co-founder and leads the Care Advisor Team that provides day-to-day support for their clients. Before LeanOnWe, Betsy was an award-winning journalist and business editor.