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When a family member has cancer, you may need outside help with caregiving. Learn about the types of care available for your loved one.

After being in the hospital or having surgery for cancer, most people can't wait to go home. They want the comforts of family and a familiar setting. But many will need special care at first - or for longer - if their cancer progresses. Your doctor may advise that a nurse, therapist, or health care aide visit your home.

Home care has important benefits. It often can shorten hospital stays and offer welcome relief to family caregivers. But it also can change relationships as everyone at home adjusts to new issues.

To manage changes smoothly, gather details in advance. For example, strangers may come and go in your home as nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and aides visit. Medical equipment may be brought into the home. Normal family routines may be disturbed.

A doctor, nurse, or your local health department can give you a list of licensed home care agencies in your area. Ask what services your family member may need, such as delivery of medicines or any special equipment. Then, compare what the agencies offer.

Most home care agencies offer these services, as needed:

  • Visits from registered nurses, physical therapists, or trained health care aides.
  • Personal care by aides to help your loved one with bathing, dressing, and using the toilet.
  • Help with light household jobs like cooking, laundry, and basic cleaning.
  • Companion services for people who cannot leave home or be left alone. The companion can also stay with your relative while you take a break.
Once home care is in place, check how it's going from time to time. Talk with a social worker or counselor about any problems. For instance, one family member may feel unfairly burdened by managing home care. Or teenagers may feel their privacy is threatened by strangers coming into the home.

Paying for home care
Most families worry about the cost of home care. Some points to consider:

  • Find out from your insurance company what is covered. Private health insurance may cover some home care services. Benefits vary from plan to plan. Some plans cover services by skilled professionals, but you may be responsible for a deductible or co-pay. Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) may cover only home care or hospice services delivered by certain agencies.
  • Ask a social worker about financial assistance. Medicare and Medicaid cover some aspects of home care for people who meet their criteria.
  • Learn about the Older Americans Act, which gives federal funds to state and local social service programs that help disabled people, age 60 and older, to keep living at home. This may involve home care aides, personal care, meal delivery, and escort and shopping services. Your local Area Agency on Aging can give you contacts and referrals for these services.
  • See what type of home care assistance is offered by your state. States must provide home care to people who receive federal income assistance. People with cancer who qualify for Medicare may also be eligible for hospice services if they are accepted into a Medicare-certified hospice program.
  • If you were disabled while serving in the military, check with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides home care services to disabled veterans.
  • Contact local chapters of groups like the Health LineRX. These organizations may offer services and home care equipment. Find out what resources are offered in your area.
Topic revision: r1 - 2021-09-07 - JimBox
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