The Obvious and Not So Obvious Costs of Home Care

Providing homecare, or paying for homecare, can become really expensive and there are many families who are not prepared for what this phase of life is going to bring for them.

Knowing what homecare involves, so you can be prepared, means you and your loved ones will be better cared for you and your experience with homecare will (likely) be a more positive one.

There are obvious costs to homecare – like actually paying for it with money – but there are other parts of homecare that can become really expensive and taxing on your life.

What Is Homecare, Really?

Homecare is, usually, non-medical assistance that is provided to an individual in an attempt to keep them on their home and not moving into a full-time nursing home. The assistance provided could be in the form of help with bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and even meal preparation.

It does not typically include any kind of medical care or therapy (like physical therapy). The amount of time spent in doing this could be anywhere from one hour every week to 24-hours a day.

This kind of assistance gives individuals some independence and allows them to enjoy their retirement years in their homes, surrounded by their friends and family instead of them having to move into a retirement or nursing home – and potentially taking up a spot for someone who really needs the care.

Homecare also allows for friends and family members to spend their time with their loved one as another loved one, instead of feeling just like they are another caregiver and spending their time doing tasks like laundry, bathing and meal preparation.

Who Needs Homecare?

You may not be totally sure if your loved one is in a position to benefit from homecare or if they really need it. People who may benefit from homecare could be the following

Preparing snacks for senior
  • People who have impaired motor skills and need help with daily tasks around the house
  • Seniors who no longer have a license to drive, and therefore need help with transportation in getting to appointments and to run errands
  • People who may need help with housekeeping and laundry, and even meal preparation
  • People who may be isolated from their family members or other loved ones and would benefit from companionship a few days a week
  • People who are in the early stages of memory impairment (either due to age or an illness like Alzheimer’s)

Who Shouldn’t Think About Homecare?

While homecare is very beneficial for many people, it’s not the right option for everyone. Now there could be some seniors who would benefit from home health services, and not just home care.

  • Seniors who just want the companionship of their friends and not a caregiver
    • There are many organizations that arrange for social gatherings and outings for seniors to get together with their friends and peers
  • Seniors who need regular medical care
  • Seniors who want that “all-inclusive” lifestyle and don’t have to worry about taking care of their home anymore
  • Seniors who need physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy
    • These kinds of services can be performed in your home, but they are not part of homecare; they will likely be part of the home health services instead
  • Seniors who have advanced memory impairment, and need around the clock care in a safe and secure environment

The Obvious Costs of Homecare

Most of us realize that when we need homecare for our loved one we will need to pay for it in some way.

How Much Does Homecare Cost to Use?

The cost of using homecare really depends on the level of care your loved one needs. On average, the cost of homecare across the country is $4,290 every month.

For those who need home health care (requiring more medical services), the average cost is a little higher at $4,385 a month. The option of having home health care services is much more budget-friendly than having your loved one going into a full-time nursing home (which can run $7,513 to $8,517 every month) and this is why it’s an attractive option.


It’s important to keep in mind that these numbers are really averages, and the amount that people pay for is really dependent on their needs and the amount of time the caregiver spends with your loved one.

If your loved one has private health insurance or the state you live in has public benefits then there may be a way to get part or all of the cost of homecare paid for.

If not, you should evaluate whether you can get health insurance at a later stage in life. It is also a good time to evaluate getting life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition.

There are also subsidy programs available in some areas that you could look into for helping to cover the costs of this kind of care.

Your loved one may qualify for Medicaid as well (depending on income) and Medicaid does offer homecare programs to make sure people are taken care of. If your loved one hasn’t filled out the paperwork for Medicaid yet, you may want to help them start the process so that they can benefit from the program when they need it.

There are also levels of homecare so the amount of care your loved one needs will greatly impact the amount it costs them.

Regular Homecare

This kind of care involves a worker coming into the home of your loved one and helping with tasks like dressing, bathing and meal preparation. This homecare worker is not a medical professional (like a nurse or a doctor) so this kind of care does not involve any kind of healthcare or medical needs.

Home Health Care

When someone needs home health care, the nurse will assist them with their medical needs like bandage changes after surgery. This kind of care requires more skill than homecare so the cost of it is going to be more expensive.

24-Hour Care

This could also be called live-in care. In this situation, there are usually 2 people who each work 12 hour shifts to split the day and it’s almost always the same people so that your loved one gets used to having them around.

This kind of cost is going to be the most expensive, and it is rarely ever covered by Medicaid (or other state funded care programs) with the exception of hospice care.

If your loved one needs around the clock care, it is likely time for them to consider moving into a nursing home instead of staying at home.

Staying in their home is a really big deal for all seniors, and it’s hard to have the conversation that it may be time to consider another option, but when full-time care is needed it may be time to consider the fact that in-home care isn’t the right option for your loved one.

Around the clock care is definitely an option for those who have the funds to pay for it and don’t want to go into a nursing home – which is completely fair. However, since the cost can really add up quickly it may be more fiscally responsible to consider moving into a nursing home when your loved one’s needs reaches this stage.

Homecare vs. A Nursing Home

Keeping your loved one in their home for as long as possible is paramount, and any kind of homecare definitely will help them feel safe and secure living in their home.

Nursing home facility

There is also evidence that staying in their home helps keeps seniors in high spirits and it can actually help their health stay stronger than moving into a nursing home.

That being said, however, there are times when homecare just isn’t an option anymore and your loved one may need to move into a nursing home. 

If you are having time on how to tell your parents they have to stay in a nursing home, we are here to help you.

Benefits of a Nursing Home

Nursing homes are staffed with medical professionals, so you know that your loved one will be getting the medical care they need at any time of day.

While your loved one may not always get the one-on-one care that private, in-home services may provide they will get the medical care they need without you having to worry about them being properly taken care of.

In addition to that, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia (in any stage) then nursing homes often offer locked down or secured units where their specialize needs are taken care of. Looking after a senior loved one with memory impairment can be overwhelming as most people don’t have the knowledge or experience to know what they really need.

With nursing homes in an Alzheimer’s or dementia unit, you don’t have to worry about your loved one leaving the stove on or forgetting if they have eaten for the day – they will get all of the care needs provided and you can go to visit them to just enjoy their company and not worry about caring for them.

Wrap Up

As our loved ones age, one of our biggest worries is how they will be cared for and whether they will get the medical care they need. Homecare can be really expensive, especially if they need it for the long-term and it can very easily eat through anyone’s savings. There are sometimes when a nursing home should be considered as it will be much more economical than the care your loved one really needs.

No matter what decision you make, it’s not going to be easy and talking to your loved one about their care needs should start early so everyone knows what the plan is.