Busting Senior-Care Myths: It Costs Too Much to Hire In-Home CareBusting Senior-Care Myths: It Costs Too Much to Hire In-Home Care

“Doing it all” takes on a whole new meaning when you have a parent who needs care. Many adult children take on caregiving full or part-time because they want to do so, but some also take on that more than full-time role because they assume it would cost too much to hire in-home help for their dad or mom. If you’re feeling the strain of caregiving plus family responsibilities and work, or if you live too far away to provide care in person, it’s time to take a closer look at the myth that in-home senior care is unaffordable.

Cost of In-Home Care Compared to Nursing Home Care

For seniors who are committed to aging in place but need help with daily medical tasks, a full-time home health aide can be a very cost-effective alternative to nursing home living.

Nationally, a private nursing home room costs about $8,100 per month – almost double the monthly $4,100 cost of a 45-hour a week home health aide.

If you’re caring for a parent who needs supervision and help while you’re at work, or if you need help during the day so you can take the overnight caregiving shift, full-time in-home care can allow you to balance those needs and keep your mom or dad at home.

Cost of In-Home Care Compared to Assisted Living

It’s true that in many parts of the country, it costs more to hire a full-time home health aide than it does to live in an assisted living facility.

Genworth’s 2017 cost of care survey found that the national median monthly cost of assisted living is $3,750, and the national median monthly cost of a full-time home health aide is $4,099. However, if your parent only needs a home health aide part-time, the monthly cost could be cut by half or more.

To get a clearer idea of what the cost comparison is in your area between assisted living and full-time home health aides, you can use A Place for Mom’s Senior Care Cost Calculator. Choose your location, enter your parents’ current monthly expenses and see your results in a single click. If you’re not sure of your parents’ expenses, you can use A Place For Mom’s averages for your area to get a general local cost comparison.

Factors That Can Affect the Cost-Effectiveness of In-Home Care

The cost of your care options isn’t the only thing to consider when deciding if in-home care makes financial sense for your family. You may also need to factor in:

  1. Home-related costs. Factor in the monthly mortgage payment or rent, if that applies, along with property insurance, maintenance costs, taxes and utilities. If your parents’ home is in good shape and paid off, in-home care may be more cost-effective than moving to a senior community.
  2. Home safety for your parents. Most existing homes were built before accessibility and safety became watchwords in design. If your parents want to age in place, factor in the cost of updating the home to add bathroom grab bars, safer tubs, showers, wheelchair ramps and anything else they need to prevent injury.
  3. The hidden costs of unpaid family caregiving. Many caregivers scale back their hours, change careers or step back from career advancement while they’re taking care of family members. It’s important to factor in any benefits or income you might give up when you’re comparing care costs. In-home care may be more cost-effective than quitting your job or going to part-time hours.
  4. Whether there are affordable adult day programs in your area. The national median cost for adult day programs is about $1,500 a month. These programs are usually offered by senior centers and provide weekday half-day or full-day social and wellness programs for seniors. By using adult day program resources, you may be able to reduce your home health aide costs.

Ways to Pay for In-Home Care

If your parents have long-term care insurance, it may cover some or all of the cost of in-home care, and perhaps even some of the costs of accessibility and safety upgrades.

For seniors without long-term care insurance or savings, Medicaid may pay for in-home care, depending on your parent’s eligibility and their state’s funding and programs.

If your parent is a military veteran who served during a time of war (although not necessarily in combat) or is the widow of a veteran, he or she may quality for the VA Aid & Attendance pension benefit, which can help pay for in-home care.

To learn more about the in-home care options near you, call SeniorAdvisor.com at: 1-800-805-3621.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.


  1. stella October 17, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing and informative article.

  2. Norma D. Courtois June 13, 2019 Reply

    Does Medicare help with paying for home health care or a rehab center. I have Aetna Medicare PPO. They made us understand that Medicare will pay for it all. Who is right. I do not qualify for Medicare.
    Thank you Norma

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