Some seniors desire to stay in their own homes as they age.

There are times when it might become necessary for a senior who lives at home to get some assistance with certain personal care, other activities and lighter household chores.

When the person does not need skilled nursing care, they may still benefit from non-medical care. In the healthcare system, certain terms tend to merge together even though the two services may be quite different.

This is the case between skilled nursing care (or medical care) versus non-medical care.


What is the Difference Between Skilled Nursing/Medical Care Versus Non-Medical Care?

Although these two levels of care are often used interchangeably, they do refer to two separate types of healthcare.

Skilled nursing or medical care is care given by a licensed healthcare professional. This could be registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and doctors. Physical, occupational and speech therapists are also healthcare professionals that give this higher level of care.

Examples of skilled medical care include:

  • Administer Medications
  • Nutritional Therapy Monitoring & Administration – Feeding Tubes etc.
  • Mobility Training
  • Assessment
  • IV Therapy, Injections
  • Wound Care & Prevention of Pressure Sores Therapies
  • Medical Equipment Management – Oxygen Therapy, Breathing Treatments, Respiratory Therapy
  • Occupational, Speech & Physical Therapies
  • Diabetic Care
  • Pain Management
  • Assessment, Monitoring Potentially Serious Illnesses, Chronic Health Problems
  • Check Blood Sugars
  • Administer Treatments Ordered by Doctor, Therapists

Non-medical care is typically performed by individuals that do not hold a professional license. They can perform many personal care services and lighter household chores.

These caregivers can perform:

  • Bathing or Showering
  • Dressing
  • Grooming – Fixing Hair, Oral Care, Brushing Teeth, Caring for Dentures, Nail Care, Applying Makeup or Shaving
  • Attending to Personal Care Needs – Toilet, Changing Adult Pads or Diapers & Sometimes Colostomy Bag Care Depending on State
  • Medication Reminders – Not Allowed to Administer Meds Unless Licensed
  • Eating Assistance
  • Assistance with Ambulation, Exercise & Range of Motion
  • Transfer Assistance from Wheelchair to Toilet etc.
  • Transportation – Take Senior to Appointments, Shopping, Run Errands or Attend Social Events
  • Might Provide Respite Care for Family Caregivers
  • Companionship & Socialization – Conversation, Write Letters, Read etc.
  • Light Housework – Dishes, Laundry, Dusting & Cooking Meals Among Others

Non-medical care can be provided by family members, private caregivers and through home healthcare agencies. Some states require that nursing assistants be licensed. Some common titles of those that care for elderly individuals needing only non-medical care include nursing assistants, nurses’ aides, private caregivers, companions, home healthcare providers and personal care assistants. There are certified nursing assistants that must take classes and pass state certification criteria.


Is Non-Medical Care Covered by Medicare?

In the past, non-medical care provided in the home setting was not covered under Medicare.

Recently, there have been changes that allow payment or financial assistance for at home non-medical care if it meets certain criteria often referred to as MA or Medicare Advantage Plans.

Non-medical care can also be provided by some adult day care centers, at assisted living facilities and communities and in the hospital or nursing