The Truth About In Home Care: Costs And Concerns

The changing tide in senior care is leading more older adults to seek care from the comfort of their home.
Happy senior woman at home being cared for by a young nurse

Home health care is a top concern for older Americans. It may be at the top of your priority list especially if your family doesn’t live near by, is not available or is unable to help due to work obligations.

According to a Health Services Research Report (HSR) 65% of older adults rely entirely on family and friends for senior care. This means the balance rely on care outside of their immediate circle, or receive care at live-in facilities.

What Does In Home Care Include

Home health care includes a wide variety of care such as physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy or skilled nursing. Other in-home care focuses on activities of daily living (ADL) such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, monitoring medications, and dressing.

Many in-home care companies provide both home health care, and daily living care.

Medical care may consist of medically related activities such as administering medications, changing bandages, and providing specific therapies. Daily-life activities can

Care for daily activities can include a wide range such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, grooming, using the bathroom, and getting around. This may be services provided from an individual caregiver, home health aide or homemaker. Many companies offer comprehensive packages, enabling people to add or subtract as their needs fluctuate.

Advantages of home care or non-medical home care include:

  • Personalized attention
  • Companionship
  • Help with daily chores, personal hygiene
  • Help with dietary needs and medication
  • Being able to stay at home
  • Continuing an independent life
  • Professional care such as nursing
In-Home Care Across the United States
Nurse checks on elderly patients on the front porch of their home

The monthly cost for a home health aide in 2019 is $4,385, according to the 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. An average of $23 per hour is common for home health aides. In- home skilled nursing care on average, costs $87.50 per visit.

However, be aware that wages and availability vary widely across the nation.

Genworth provides an online tool to calculate the cost of care in your area. You can calculate projected future costs: by hourly, daily, monthly or annual periods.

For many seniors, home health care is an out-of-pocket expense. Some expenses may be covered by long-term care insurance. The Veterans Administration may cover some services for veterans. Check with your doctor about specifics for Medicare Part A or B coverage of some skilled nursing services.

Regional Highs and Lows

Recent reports from the National Council for Aging Care identify the least and most expensive states.

The least expensive states for in-home care are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. The most expensive regions are: Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Rhode Island.

Growing Aging Population Means Growing Home Health Care Services
Senior woman sitting in a chair speaking with a nurse in her home

As more Baby Boomers age, the number of older adults in the United States is growing. Estimates are that by 2050, the older population will be more than 80 million. This is up from 35 million in 2000.

To keep up with the home care needs of this increasing population, more services are likely to arise.

When evaluating the needs of yourself and your family, experts advise checking with your medical provider. Your physician may be able to advise you on home health care options in your area, and for your specific situation.

Choosing a Home-Health Provider

When it comes to choosing a home-health provider, the government provides detailed information about Medicare-certified home health agencies. The tool can be useful to prioritizing options and identifying the best choice for your location, needs and finances.

To ensure peace of mind, many people rely on personal recommendations and referrals.

Some criteria to help provide peace of mind include:

  • Checking references
  • Getting personal recommendations
  • Checking businesses for insurance and bonding
  • Trial periods for evaluation
  • Getting agreements in writing
  • Establishing clear contracts
  • Evaluating hourly, daily, nightly rates

In finding the best candidate, experts note it’s not only about what’s on paper or online.

A home health provider is coming into your home and providing personal care. Selecting a caregiver that fits the bill may not be instant. It can take adjustment, conversation and time.

Finding the best match may be less about skill and more about subtle issues of personality, grace, kindness and understanding.

Assistance Club Summary

What’s the #1 big take away?

Planning provides peace of mind.

Familiarizing yourself with the costs and conditions of in-home care helps you plan for the future.

The cost of care varies from state to state, level of care and amount of care. By familiarizing yourself with the costs and options, you’ll be better prepared for making wise decisions for yourself and your family.