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What Do Home Health Aides Do? 

An elderly man with a white beard, glasses, and an orange shirt sits as a nurse or home health aide leans over him and smiles, with her arm around him.

As the aging population continues to grow in the U.S., the demand for home health aides is increasing.   

As of 2023, there are an estimated 426,820 businesses that provide home care services in the U.S., which is an increase of 2.2% from 2022. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the home health aide and personal care aide industry will have around 711,700 new job openings each year.  

This industry will also see a growth rate of 25% between 2021 and 2031 — which is much higher than the average growth rate of other occupations. 

But what exactly is a home health aide, and should you considering hiring one for your aging loved one? This article will help answer these questions, and more. 

What is a Home Health Aide (HHA)? 

Home health aides are employed to assist patients who are recovering from illness or injuries, or to help aging adults and/or those with disabilities. 

As the name suggests, a home health aide typically helps people in their homes, but they can also work at nursing homes, hospices, assisted living facilities, or wherever there’s a need for their services. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), home health aides don’t need special certifications, but a high school diploma and some form of training are typically required. 

What is a home care nurse? 

A home care nurse is a registered professional with an associate’s degree in nursing who has completed their apprenticeship.  

Much like home health aides, they also travel to homes and facilities where people require care, but they have the skills and qualifications to give patients medical attention, while home health aides do not. 

A home care nurse can help patients who cannot be admitted to hospital manage chronic illnesses, disabilities, or injuries that require more advanced care. 

What Are the Duties of a Home Health Aide? 

If you’re considering hiring a home health aide for your parents, you first need to know what they can offer your loved ones and also what their limitations are. 

Home health aides often work alongside family caregivers and other health care professionals. 

An older man sits on a bit as a home health aide or nurse stands beside him. She is showing him something on her phone as he uses his finger to point to it or scroll

Here are some duties that a home health aide can fulfill: 

  • Checking vital signs and recording pulse and blood pressure measurements. 
  • Administering medications. 
  • Assisting with grooming and going to the bathroom.  
  • Taking care of chores and running errands. 
  • Ensuring that patients do their exercises. 
  • Driving patients to and from doctors’ appointments. 
  • Preparing meals and performing other everyday tasks. 
  • Taking notes on the person’s overall health and mental condition. 
  • Getting help in the event of an emergency. 
  • Providing companionship to patients who are lonely.

Are home health aides available around the clock? 

The availability of a home health aide depends on the individual’s requirements. They may be contactable 24/7, or they could follow a schedule that’s been determined by what the patient needs, for example: 

  • They may visit for a few hours each day at predetermined times. 
  • They may stop by a few times a week, on days when the patient requires their help — for example, to run errands or help them with physical therapy activities. 
  • They may have a full-time position with one client and treat it as a 9-to-5 job. 
  • They may provide overnight care to patients who need help during the night. 
  • They may live with the patient and provide constant care. 
A nurse or home health aide assists an elderly woman as she walks with a cane.

What are home health aides not allowed to do? 

Home health aides can be wonderful additions to your parent’s care plan, but they do have certain limitations.  

Also remember: even if a home health aid is available 24/7, they have personal lives, too. An emergency in their life may take precedence over an emergency in yours — so be prepared to make alternative plans if your HHA is suddenly unavailable. 

Here are some things home health aides are usually not permitted to do: 

  • Deal with major medical issues. 
  • Fill reminder boxes with a patient’s pills. 
  • Conduct medical assessments. 
  • Provide medical advice or medical care. 
  • Fulfill the role of a nurse. 
What is the Difference between a Home Health Aide (HHA) and a Personal Care Aide (PCA)? 
A personal care aide and a home health aide are two different roles, although the terms are often used interchangeably. 
Home health aides focus mainly on ensuring the patient is safe and healthy by helping them with tasks like bathing, toileting, and grooming. A personal care aide not only assists with these tasks, but also helps with meal preparation, cleaning, and basic errands. 

How Do I Know if My Parent Needs a Home Health Aide? 

Accepting that your parent is no longer able to fully care for themselves can be a difficult journey. But the longer you ignore signs that they need help, the greater their chances of sustaining injuries that can affect their quality of life. 

If we are lucky enough to have parents who reach an advanced age, they will probably need assistance with activities of daily living and other everyday tasks.  

Statistics show that most people in the U.S. want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible (as opposed to going to a care facility, for example). You can help make this happen if you put in place the care they require to age in place safely

Here are some signs that your parent may need the help of a home health aide. 

Increasing forgetfulness or confusion 

Everyone forgets things from time to time, but if your parent is forgetting to lock the door, turn off the stove, or take chronic medication, they’re putting themselves at serious risk.  

A set of keys in the door of a home, seemingly forgotten.

If your parent displays confusion when following basic instructions or completing simple tasks like opening a bottle, take note. 

Poor personal hygiene 

There are multiple instances where you may find signs of this. Start by looking carefully at their personal grooming practices.  

Are they forgetting to clean and trim their nails? Are they not showering anymore? Do they have a noticeable odor?  

Inspecting the bathroom and laundry basket can give you further insights. Soiled underwear, for example, can alert you to the fact that they require help going to the bathroom. 

Loss of balance  

Is your parent struggling to stand upright? Do they constantly lean against walls or have trouble getting out of a chair? These are serious signs that your parent needs support. 

If they fall, they could find themselves immobile on the floor for a long time before help arrives. However, there are solutions to avoid this — see our section below on home health aide alternatives. 

Inability to do basic chores 

Pay careful attention to your parent’s living quarters. What is the state of the bathroom? The kitchen? The bedroom? What does it smell and look like? 

A kitchen with piles of dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter.

If it seems like your parent hasn’t cleaned their home in ages, it’s time to step in. 

Disinterest or depression 

When aging  grow quiet, it can be a cause for concern — especially if they once had so much to say. 

A parent who has lost interest in things they used to love, or has become withdrawn, may be suffering from depression or another mental health condition. A doctor will need to diagnose this, and your loved one will certainly benefit from having a home health aide or personal care aide around. 

Weight fluctuations 

This can be another indication of forgetfulness or depression. If your parent is losing or gaining weight, they may have unintentionally started skipping meals or have been eating too much to deal with emotional pain. 

Personal care aides will be able to assist with meal preparation and feeding to ensure your parent gets the nutrients they need.

What Are Some Alternatives to Home Health Aides? 

Home health aides can be costly to hire — especially if you live in certain states. It may also not be necessary to hire full-time help. Here are some alternatives you can explore. 

Medical alert devices 

These are small, simple-to-use devices that can be worn around the neck, wrist, or waist to keep your parent safe. 

If there’s an emergency, your loved one simply need to press a button to get help. LogicMark offers a wide selection of quality medical alert devices to keep your loved ones safe and give you peace of mind.  

Head over to LogicMark to complete a brief online quiz, and find out which product will work best for you or someone you love. 

Compare each device, and read reviews from hundreds of satisfied customers. You’ll also find a wide range of accessories to ensure the devices seamlessly integrate into your loved one’s life. 

Fall-proofing the home 

Making adjustments to your parent’s home can help them live there safely. Take a look at this guide, which covers everything you need to know about aging in place

Becoming your parent’s caregiver 

This can be a rewarding experience, but also a life-changing one.Whether you assume the role full-time or part-time, it can be a tough job and you might still need the help of a home health aide to properly care for your parent. 

An older woman and younger woman, perhaps smother and daughter, smile widely as they gently hug.

This article goes into detail on the topic of caregiving. 

Where Can I Learn More about Caring for My Aging Parents? 

Whether you’re thinking of hiring a home health aide or not, a medical alert device is a worthwhile investment for an aging parent.  

Get in touch with us to learn more about how LogicMark can help make your parent’s golden years safer and more comfortable. 



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