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In-Home Nurse or In-Home Personal Caregiver—What's Best For Your Senior Loved One?

In-Home Nurse or In-Home Personal Caregiver—What's Best For Your Senior Loved One?

As more and more seniors are choosing to age in place, there is an increasing need for families to enlist professional help around the home. Depending on the level of assistance necessary, either an in-home nurse or in-home caregiver may be suitable. And although both provide compassionate support of aging individuals, there are marked differences between the two.

What Is the Difference Between a Nurse and a Caregiver?

Generally, the difference lies in the type of care each professional is able to provide. Personal caregivers tend to work with seniors that are in relatively stable physical health, but who may be experiencing cognitive decline or difficulty addressing the activities of daily living that are essential for independent living. This may include anything from dressing and eating, to light housework and meal preparation. 

A nurse, on the other hand, will work with seniors needing follow-up care after a hospitalization or ongoing care for a chronic medical condition. This could mean anything from helping a patient to learn how to use an at-home medical device to learning to manage chronic pain or chronic diseases—such as COPD, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. In such cases, an in-home nurse possesses the professional medical expertise to provide care.

Is There Any Crossover?

It is not unusual for families that elect one form of care over another to see a need for change as their senior loved one’s condition advances. For example, an individual may start with a few hours of basic help from a home caregiver, but as their condition progresses, the situation may gradually warrant the services of an in-home nurse that can provide more advanced and skilled medical care.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties performed by an in-home personal caregiver are strictly non-medical in nature and generally fall into one of three categories: 

  1. Activities of daily living: Bathing, dressing, grooming and toileting are areas with which many older individuals obtain assistance from a personal caregiver.
  2. Support services: A caregiver may perform light housekeeping, prepare meals, assist with shopping and provide transportation to appointments.
  3. Companionship: Through regular visits, an in-home caregiver prevents the isolation commonly experienced by many senior citizens.

In comparison, an in-home nurse will perform duties that are exclusive to a skilled medical professional. He or she will have received training and licensure to become a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) and perform the designated health care responsibilities relevant to the field.

Examples of health care services only a medical professional, such as an in-home nurse, can provide include:

  • Administering medication
  • Checking vital signs
  • Giving injections
  • Skilled wound care
  • Management of urinary catheters
  • Medication reconciliation and doctor or pharmacists reporting
  • Ostomy/colostomy education
  • Disease education for new or unstable diagnoses
  • 24/7 support (if needed) 

A Case for Home Health Care

At Interim HealthCare of the Twin Cities, we provide skilled home health care services from the comfort of your loved one’s home. These are the types of services that require treatment from a licensed professional such as a registered in-home nurse. 

To learn more about home health care, please visit our designated page or give us a call on (615) 917-3634

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