Home Health Care: What To Do When You Are Homebound
Aging, chronic illness, disability, or injuries may significantly limit your mobility and make it difficult to go about your everyday life. Being homebound means that you are unable to leave your home without difficulty, usually staying entirely confined to your house.
Being confined to your home can considerably limit your social life and activity. However, staying involved in life and keeping at least a part of your independence when you are homebound is extremely important.
Here are a few things you can do when you are homebound.
- Get Information about Community Services
If mobility issues prevent you from accessing your community, get informed about services for homebound people, such as home health care services, accessible leisure, and recreation programs, home aids, shopping services, and similar.
Inquire where and how to buy or rent a walker, wheelchair, or electric scooter and find about local transportation services for seniors and the disabled.
- Cultivate Solitary Pastimes
Research shows that pastimes such as taking up jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, or sudoku can keep your brain sharp.
Also, other mental activities such as learning something new, reading, or board games can decrease the risk of dementia.
You can also explore exhibitions that many museums have online and learn a new language or a handicraft skill. Such activities can have a therapeutic effect and help you stay mentally active.
- Stay Connected
Get a computer and learn how to use it. Internet access can keep you updated with news, enable you to take online courses, and stay connected to family and friends.
You can also join various chat rooms and online support groups and chat with people in a similar situation.
What Makes a Person Homebound?
Being homebound means that you cannot leave your home due to advanced age, disability, or illness. Medicare uses housebound status to determine your eligibility to receive in-home care and other services.
Disability, injuries, age, and illness are the most common factors that make a person homebound.
To be considered homebound, you must have trouble leaving your home without help because of illness or injury. Being homebound also means that it is not recommended for you to leave home due to your condition.
What Does Homebound Means for Home Health Care?
People who are considered homebound can qualify for home health care. To meet the eligibility criteria for Medicare-covered home health care, you have to:
- Be considered homebound
- Be under the supervision of a doctor who needs to certify that you confined to the home
- Have a doctor verify that you need one or more of the following therapies:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Intermittent skilled nursing care
- Speech-language pathology services
Medicare covers 100 percent for skilled healthcare services that you may need as long as you are homebound.
Home health care is very beneficial for many aging persons as it allows them to stay in their homes and communities. Such programs provide medical care and assistance at home for an illness, disability, or injury, enabling the person to live independently for as long as possible.
Home health care you may receive while homebound includes skilled nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy carried out by licensed therapists, nurses, or home health aides.
Home health care provides access to skilled nursing care at your home and support with medication management, ensuring that your medical needs are met.
What Qualifies a Patient for Home Health Care?
To qualify for home health care, a person needs to meet the following criteria:
- Was recently discharged from a hospital, rehabilitation center, or nursing home
- Requires intermittent (part-time) skilled care services (skilled nursing, continued occupational therapy, or speech therapy)
- Is homebound (have an illness or injury that causes them difficulty leaving home without help)
- Are under the direct care of a physician
- Has a new or aggravated illness
Home health care services are suitable for people who are homebound and need one of the following medical services:
- Wound or ostomy care
- IV therapy or injectables
- Catheter care
- Cardiac and pulmonary monitoring needs
- Medication management
- Pain management
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
The major financier of home health services in the U.S. is Medicare. Nevertheless, other insurance companies such as Medicaid, Long-term care insurance, Veterans benefits, and many private health insurance companies may cover home health care expenses.
The main goal of home health care is to help patients get better and be independent as much as possible. For individuals with long-term health issues, the goal is to learn to live with illness or disability and keep up the maximum ability level.
How Long Should a Home Health Visit Last?
Home health care nursing and home health aide services that Medicare covers are available up to seven days per week. These services are provided for no more than eight hours per day.
However, the average visit lasts about an hour or less. You may expect the nurse or therapist to check your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing during a home health visit. In addition, they may teach you or your caregiver how to care for an IV or wound. They will also make sure you understand the purpose and side effects of your medicines and help you develop a plan to improve your mobility.
However, Medicare may cover additional home health care on a case-by-case basis. The number of home health care visits depends on your needs and insurance coverage.
Do You Have to be Homebound to Get Home Health Care?
Yes. You must be expecting difficulty leaving home due to your illness, disability, or injury, thus being unable to seek medical care at an institution. In addition, to obtain medical care at home, you need to have an order for home care written by your doctor. This means that you need to be considered in need of skilled nursing services or therapy on an intermittent basis.