Getting Help to Provide Care at Home

When you’re providing care at home, sometimes you can use some help. That extra help could be the difference that could keep your loved one at home longer, and to maintain your own health and well-being.

It will be up to you to find, and in many cases to pay for, these services. Some of the services available from various public agencies and private groups include the following:

Only limited help at home is available from Medicare and Medicaid. That is unfortunate and even short-sited because home care can cost much less than nursing home care. In North Carolina the PACE program (mentioned above) is an effort to keep people at home longer. Medicare offers home health care, primarily for as explained on the Medicare website. Medicare can help to pay for eligible home health services such as intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech-language pathology services, continued occupational services, and more. Usually, a home health care agency coordinates the services your doctor orders for you. Medicare does not pay for: 24-hour-a-day care at home; meals delivered to your home; homemaker services; or personal care.

More free or volunteer help is available from nonprofit groups in many communities. The services offered by these groups varies from transportation, to home repair, to limited home care assistance. Many times you can locate those through your area’s Area Agency on Aging.

Limited volunteer home care assistance can be available through local nonprofits. However, to bring in ongoing assistance from an outside home health aide you likely will need to pay from your own funds for care.  These may be private-for-profit, or private nonprofit groups, or public agencies. You should look for home care agencies, local departments of aging, and county Social Services. Search for “home health services” online or in your telephone book. You also may call your local senior center, Agency on Aging, or Department of Social Services.

Non-medical services are also available to help older persons remain independent. The Older Americans Act provides funds to senior centers and to the State as well as to the regional Area Agencies on Aging to provide services to seniors. These available services include include Meals-on-Wheels, transportation, respite care, housekeeping and personal care, money management, and shopping assistance. Many services are free but staffing may be limited. Donations for the nonprofit organizations are also welcomed.

The most comprehensive listing of eldercare services nationwide is at the federal government’s Eldercare Locator Web site at, or you can call the toll-free Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.  A North Carolina specific listing of elder care programs can be found at To find the various North Carolina Area Agencies on Aging, visit