When you need some help at home, the first step is understanding what your options are. Staying at home or moving to a senior living community both come with costs. You may have questions like, “How much does senior home care cost?” and understanding terms like, “What is the difference between Home Care and Private Duty?”
While Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) is renowned for residential care through Life Plan Communities and Affordable Housing Communities, they also provide a host of in-home care programs and services to help at home or wherever you are. Whether you are seeking in-home senior care services for yourself or an in-home caregiver for loved ones, here’s some information to help navigate the complexities of in-home care costs. So how much does senior home care cost? To answer that, let’s first break down the types of home senior care services available.
Types of In-Home Care
Primarily, you can choose from Home Health Care, Private Duty Care, and Companion Care. Understanding what each one provides, its costs, and what your needs are will help you make the right match.
“Home Health Care and Private Duty Care are not the same thing,” advises Marcy Cox, Director of Private Duty in Home & Community Based Services for LSS. “The most important difference is that Home Health is care from a medical professional and is typically covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Private Duty is non-medical care and is paid out of pocket and not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.”
- Companion Care
At the core of companion care is the importance of socialization. Often older adults who live alone can feel isolated, which can result in poor health outcomes. Having an in-home care companion to simply spend social time by participating in hobbies, taking a walk, or playing a game can make a difference. Typically, this type of in-home senior care service does not provide medical care or medication assistance, though they may provide transportation for outings.
- Personal Care
Personal Care, also known as Private Duty, Home Health Aide, Home Care, or Care Transition, is a type of in-home senior care service designed for people who need some help with mobility, hygiene, light housework, and other non-medical needs. This does not need to be ordered by a physician and the in-home senior care services will be provided by someone trained, but not necessarily a licensed health professional.
When the tasks of daily living become challenging, a private-duty caregiver can make a world of difference. For example, LSS Private Duty Home Care offers a broad range of in-home solutions to support families with aging parents or spouses who want to stay together at home.
“This type of in-home senior care service is considered ‘private pay’ and not covered by Medicare or Medicaid,” said Cox. “This care can help a caregiver by doing chores and services like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and bathing.” Typically, this type of care is offered in four-hour sessions per day.
- Home Health Care
If you have an established medical need, but obtaining care outside of your home is onerous, there are home health care services for seniors. Other terms for Home Health Care are Skilled Nursing, Home Health, Home Therapy, and Private Duty Nursing. This type of care must be ordered by a physician and provided by a licensed professional, such as a nurse or therapist. What are the private caregiver costs associated with this type of in-home care? Medicare can cover costs if you meet qualifications and Medicaid can also cover costs. Examples of care would be wound treatments or physical therapy. Having access to experienced nurses, therapists, and social workers at home can have a positive effect on health outcomes.
How Much Does Senior Home Care Cost?
Costs of private in-home caregivers can vary based on the types of services required and where they are provided. According to Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of in-home care in the United States can be around $4,957 a month. For home health care, the cost is higher, at an average of $5,148 a month. However, considering that home health care can include nursing services, it can be a more economical option than residential skilled nursing care, which costs an average of $7,908 a month for a shared room and $9,034 for a private room. Costs vary depending on geographic location.
For LSS, rates start at $28.50/hour on Monday-Friday, with weekends at $30.50. Additional rates apply for more than 40 hours/week or holidays, however, LSS will offer a reduced rate for couples. “We do a lot to assist with the cost for people who need care,” said Cox.
Paying for In-Home Care
When assessing how to pay for in-home senior care services, things to explore include your existing Long-Term Care insurance or life insurance policies, Aid and Attendance benefits, reverse mortgages, or private funding.
- Long-Term Care
Long-term care insurance is designed for senior care however coverage and eligibility qualifications vary. Review your policy to see if your care could be covered.
- Aid and Attendance Benefit
Eligible veterans and their spouses may be able to use this benefit to help finance their in-home care. This extra monthly payment eligible veterans receive, in addition to their regular monthly VA pension, is intended for covering care needs. To qualify for Aid and Attendance, veterans must be receiving a VA pension and meet all the associated eligibility requirements, plus meet at least one of four separate eligibility requirements.
- Life Insurance
While we typically think of life insurance as benefitting the bereaved, it also can be used to pay for in-home senior care services. Check to see if your policy is hybrid or could be sold or transferred to a cash payment that could be used toward care.
- Reverse Mortgage Loans
Essentially a cash advance on your home’s equity, a reverse mortgage loan can help finance long-term care for adults age 62 or older. Often, the money received from a reverse mortgage loan is not taxed. This can provide some liquid cash to pay for long-term care without needing to sell the home. The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is the only loan of this kind that is federally insured. Note that borrowing against the home’s value means that you most likely won’t be able to leave the home or the money from its sale to your heirs.
- Private Funding
For those with the resources to do so, private pay is another option. For 20 hours a week, you can expect to pay an average of $2,253 a month for personal care assistance and $2,340 a month for home health care, according to Genworth Financial. For 40 hours a week, in-home senior care services can cost $4,506 a month and $4,500 a month, respectively. Around-the-clock home care costs an average of $18,972 a month for personal care assistance and $19,656 for home health care. Thus, if the client needs around-the-clock care, it may make more sense financially to relocate to a senior living community.
Cox also notes that the LSS Aging Answers program provides access to care at a reduced rate. Aging Answers is a free community service staffed by experts in aging-related issues that people can call and get help, like obtaining medical equipment, access to food, one-on-one spiritual care, or locating transportation services. “If someone can’t afford our rate, depending on their need and income threshold, Aging Answers may be able to help!”
- Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare doesn’t cover standard home care, including companion care services like light housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping, transportation, and personal care assistance like activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Only home health care services prescribed by a doctor and deemed necessary as part of a care plan are covered by Medicare provided that the individual meets requirements.
Medicaid is a state program that provides medical services to clients of the state’s public assistance program and others.
Determining When Home Health Care is Not Enough
Sometimes, home health care is not enough. Some individuals may require more specialized care and access to medical help that can be better provided in an assisted living community. For example, LSS offers Memory Care with engaging activities, 24/7 support, and a secure area.
Some reasons you or your loved one may need more than in-home senior care services and should consider a senior living community include:
- You want the companionship of peers rather than an aide or caregiver
- You need nursing care or other regular medical care
- You want an all-inclusive lifestyle with amenities
- You want physical, occupational, or speech therapy services regularly
- You have advanced memory impairment and require a secure environment and around-the-clock care
For the Best Care, Choose an Experienced Provider
The fact is any kind of care comes with costs. Now that you have a clearer understanding of how much senior home care costs and your choices of in-home senior care services, you are better prepared to make a proactive decision. For assistance in identifying in-home health care services for seniors near you, reach out to LSS Home Health.