Aging In Place

5/12/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Updated on 1/4/21

Most Americans would prefer to age in place – that is, remain in their own home as they get older and need more assistance. An AARP study found that this is true for the vast majority of Americans; 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, and 82% want to age in place even when they begin to need everyday assistance or ongoing medical treatment. In-home care can make this possible, but what does it cost, and how does it compare to a nursing home?

What Is Home Care?

Home health aides provide in-home health and personal care. They help with ADLs (activities of daily living) like getting dressed, eating, bathing, going to the bathroom, and moving from place to place. They can do household tasks like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and other errands. Home health aides monitor their client’s health by checking vital signs like pulse, respiration, and blood pressure. They can handle emergency situations like accidents, strokes, and heart attacks. Aides can work full- or part-time shifts or they can live with the care recipient.

What Does Home Care Cost?

Home care varies quite a bit, based on the type of help you need and how many hours of care per week you require. You can hire a home health aide through a licensed agency or directly. Hiring through an agency is simpler because they handle administrative tasks like background checks, taxes, and insurance. If you hire a home health aide directly, it will cost less because none of the money goes to the agency. But you have to get references, do background checks, and monitor the aide yourself. You’ll also need to make sure you’re paying your aide at least minimum wage (probably quite a bit more).

The cost for a home health aide ranges from about $16 to $28 an hour. Genworth Financial’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey estimates costs based on a salary of $26 per hour for a home health worker. By their estimates, and calculating a 44-hour work week, Genworth estimates the average monthly cost of in-home health aide services at $4,576 per month, or $54,912 per year.

8 Hours vs. 24 Hours

But that is only eight hours a day of in-home help, compared to a nursing home’s 24/7 care. When your loved one needs 24/7 care, home health care costs rise. With around-the-clock care, you’ll either hire one caregiver to live with your loved one (referred to as live-in care), or hire multiple caregivers to take shifts (called 24-hour care). Live-in care usually costs about half as much as 24-hour care, but the downside is that live-in caregivers must take breaks (and other time off), so your loved one may be unattended sometimes or you’ll need to find a temporary caregiver for a few hours a day. Live-in care, in which several aides take shifts, usually costs between $200 and $350 a day. Calculating at the cost of $300 a day, that’s about $100,800 a year.

For 24-hour care, instead of one aide working eight-hour days, you’ll need to hire at least three aides to handle the work. A rough estimate of around-the-clock in-home care, at $25 an hour, comes to $16,800 a month, or about $201,600 per year.

What Is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home, or a skilled nursing facility, is a facility that provides around-the-clock medical care for residents. Most nursing home residents have a health condition that makes it impossible for them to live independently. Nursing homes are staffed with licensed nurses and certified nurse assistants, and an attending physician oversees all care. In addition to medical care, nursing homes provide residents with meals, housekeeping services, and laundry. Residents usually have the option of a private or shared, or semi-private, room.

What Does a Nursing Home Cost?

Genworth Financial has determined that the average cost of a nursing home in the United States is $7,513 per month for semi-private room, which comes to $90,156 a year. For a private room, the average rate is $8,517 per month for private room, or $102,204 a year. This price varies based on where you live and the facility itself.

So Is Home Care Cheaper Than a Nursing Home?

Yes, home health care is cheaper than a nursing home, but only when a senior needs care eight hours a day. When your loved one needs around-the-clock care, a nursing home may become the cheaper option.

Remember that there are other costs with aging in place, too. Consider the cost of refitting a home for senior care, including remodeling a bathroom for safe bathing or showering, installing grab bars in the bathroom, and ensuring that the home is wheelchair accessible. Keep housing costs in mind, too. If your loved one rents or has a mortgage, they’ll still have to pay for their housing, home insurance, and home upkeep on top of their care. If they moves to a nursing home, they might be able to sell their home and use that money to help pay for the nursing home.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff