Maintaining independence is important for people as they age, and home care can be the key to achieving a comfortable quality of life. While home care can ease management of an ongoing medical condition, it also enables security, safety, and increased independence for your loved ones.
In-home care differs from other common forms of elderly assistance, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and has its own set of pros and cons. With many in-home care options available, you want to make the best decision for your loved one based on their long-term care needs, finances, and support network. This post covers what in-home care is, how it’s different from other forms of support for seniors, costs of in-home care, and who can benefit from in-home care.
What is Home Care?
In-home care allows seniors to age in the comfort of their own home. In-home care services can help someone who is aging and needs assistance to live independently, manage their chronic health issues, recover from a medical setback, or has special needs or a disability. With a combination of simple companionship, supervision, and personal care, in-home caregivers are appropriate for individuals who want to stay at home, but also need ongoing care that family members or friends cannot provide.
Depending on the person’s needs, professional caregivers such as nurses, aides, and therapists provide short-term or long-term care in the home. Most in-home care plans cover both non-medical services and skilled health care services including:
- Help with daily activities such as dressing, walking, bathing, and using the toilet
- Assistance with managing tasks around the home, including laundry, light housekeeping, and meal preparation
- Companionship and supervision
- Therapy and rehabilitative services
- Medication Management
- Short or long-term nursing care for an illness, disease, or disability
From making sure seniors take their necessary medications to providing companionship, in-home care is specialized to the individual and their needs, and ranges from a few hours intermittently to full-service care.
In-Home Care vs. Nursing Homes
There may come a time in a senior’s life where they can no longer take care of themselves. As their loved one, you’re not sure what care option is the best for them. Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, are a popular option for older individuals as they provide a wide range of health and personal care services.
Staffed with a variety of medical professionals, they perform both medical and non-medical functions, including 24-hour supervision, assistance with everyday activities, and serving their residents three meals a day. Nursing homes are secure for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia who might be prone to wandering, and may offer rehabilitation services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
While some nursing homes are set up to mimic a home and not feel like a hospital, they can sometimes remove an individual’s independence, which can sometimes lead to feelings of frustration. Relocating to a nursing home also requires a transition period before it begins to feel like home, which can be difficult and disorienting for some seniors. Depending on the facility, they may also be roomed with another resident.
With their team of nurses and trained medical professionals, your loved one will be cared for by numerous staff members, unlike in-home care where one or two people can rotate in providing support. Skilled medical care can be provided by licensed practitioners at home, but many in-home assistants aren’t specifically qualified to provide medical assistance if needed. Nursing homes are typically paid for in monthly installments and private rooms, which adults often prefer, can be quite expensive. Conversely, in-home care is usually charged at an hourly rate for just the time required.
In-Home Care vs. Assisted Living
Assisted living facilities are best suited for individuals who require very little care on a daily basis. With over 30,000 assisted living facilities in the United States, they are often a popular alternative for in-home care. Assisted living communities offer seniors care in a residential setting that isn’t their home—usually in rooms or small apartments—while also providing social engagement and the amenities for a healthy lifestyle.
Most assisted living facilities provide residents with some form of help to accomplish various tasks, but usually don’t offer full-time long-term care. Services typically include medication management, assistance using the bathroom, dressing, and grooming, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation services. Social programs and activities are also included, to encourage residents to stay active and interact with members of the community.
Assisted living facilities don’t offer the same type of care that licensed in-home health aide or nursing home provides, but skilled home care services can be contracted to be provided in an assisted living environment. They cater to seniors who can live more independently and, unlike in-home care, don’t generally provide one-on-one personalized care.They may also not be the best for seniors who don’t enjoy a group living environment, and a frequently rotating staff.
Since they offer restaurant-style meals and snacks and maintenance-free living, assisted living facilities are a more affordable way for 24/7 supervisions and care. They allow families to focus on visiting with their loved one, rather than shouldering the burden of care needs.
How Much Does Private Home Care Cost?
The exact cost of in-home care is difficult to estimate, because average costs vary from state to state and are charged by the hour. The level of care needed, including the number of hours a senior spends with the caregiver, and any services and supplies needed to support them also factor into the overall cost of in-home care.
Most in-home care agencies charge by the hour, while some offer discounted rates for monthly contracts if your loved one needs significant assistance. Each agency will work with the senior and their family to determine the exact level of care they need, whether it be simple companionship or more hands-on care. Most agencies and private caregivers break up the price structure by non-sleeping visits, sleeping visits, and live-in caregivers, while 24/7 in-home care remains the most expensive model.
Costs of In-Home Care Vary By State
The national average monthly cost for home care is approximately $5,000. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, you can expect a higher price for in-home care. State regulations and requirements for special certifications can also impact the overall cost of in-home care. If you live in an area with a relatively low cost of living, you may pay less.
So, how much does private home care cost? Genworth Financial compiled a list of hourly, monthly, and annual median costs of home care in each state:
10 Most Expensive States for In-Home Care
- Washington: $31.16/hr
- Minnesota: $30.75/hr
- California: $29.00/hr
- Massachusetts: $29.00/hr
- New Hampshire: $28.50/hr
- Vermont: $28.50/hr
- Wyoming: $28.12/hr
- Alaska: $28.00/hr
- South Dakota: $28.00/hr
- District of Columbia: $26.13/hr
10 Most Affordable States for In-Home Care
- Louisiana: $17.00/hr
- Alabama: $18.00/hr
- Mississippi: $18.00/hr
- West Virginia: $18.50/hr
- Arkansas: $20.00/hr
- North Carolina: $20.00/hr
- Tennessee: $20.50/hr
- Georgia: $21.00/hr
- Kentucky: $21.25/hr
- South Carolina: $21.38/hr
Private vs. Agency In-Home Care Expenses
When weighing in-home care options, you can choose to go through a licensed home care agency or hire a private, independent caregiver.
While generally more expensive, agency in-home care provides peace of mind while removing scheduling and paperwork burdens for families. Agencies often provide continued training for their care, and all contracts, insurance, and taxes are already included in their costs.
Private caregivers often have lower hourly costs, since they set their own rates. They most likely don’t have worker’s compensation insurance, so any accidents made on the job will potentially come out of the family’s pocket. Additional background checks as well as reviewing contracts with a lawyer, may also be required.
Financing In-Home Care
Certain models of in-home care can be covered under Medicare, Medicaid, or similar assistance programs. Most home care is private pay and can be covered by long-term care insurance or by other financial options many people don’t realize they could use.
Veteran’s Aide & Attendance Benefits for veterans of active combat duty and/or their spouses are eligible to receive monthly benefits paid directly towards qualifying long-term care service. Like Medicaid, the applicant must meet both medical necessity and income/asset level requirements to qualify.
Reverse Mortgages can be available for homeowners with little to no remaining mortgage balance that are age 62 or older can qualify to take a HUD backed Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan against the home in the form of a lump sum, monthly income or a line of credit. To qualify the home must still be the primary residence and the loan must be paid back with interest and fees after the homeowner dies (typically through the sale of the property).
Long-term care (LTC) life settlements can be used to fund a Long-Term Care Benefit Account which is a unique financial option designed for seniors who want to unlock the value in a life insurance policy that they no longer need to pay for any form of senior living and long-term care they may want.
An LTC benefit account is a managed bank-trust account where payments are made automatically to the care provider on the owner’s behalf for any kind of care they chose.
An LTC benefit account is a managed account where payments are made automatically from the account on the owner’s behalf.
LTC Benefit Accounts are not long-term care insurance or an annuity, and an insurance company doesn’t issue a policy. Similar to a health savings account, there are no waiting periods and no claims to file, so the account is ready to start making payments towards care as soon as it’s funded by the LTC life settlement. The benefit account is designed to be flexible to meet the changing needs for care; for example, payments could start at a designated amount and can be adjusted to if a loved one then needed to move into an assisted living community or nursing home.
Who Can Benefit from In-Home Care?
Even if you don’t fully understand the pros and cons of in-home care, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, your final choice can be a difficult decision to make. In-home care is best suited for seniors who want to continue their daily routine in their own home, with a little help accomplishing certain activities. While in-home care can become expensive, it remains a very attractive alternative to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as your loved one can remain in the comfort of their own home and age in place.
In-home Care: Key Takeaways
In-home care can provide your loved one with a variety of benefits to support activities of daily living, including assistance with cooking, cleaning, and bathing. Navigating the cost of in-home care can seem overwhelming, especially when there are so many variables to consider. The experts at Retirement Genius can guide you through your options and help you decide if in-home care is the right fit for you and your family, and the best approach. Contact the experts at Retirement Genius today.