Home Care Costs
For many seniors, the ability to remain at home for as long as possible is a high priority. Home care enables seniors to maximize their independence by employing caregivers to cover specific areas of assistance. Home care costs are primarily determined by the number of hours worked by the caregiver per day and the other services and supplies required.
To begin, clients receive an estimate of home care costs based upon the outcome of a comprehensive assessment of needs conducted by a licensed nurse at the home care agency. In some cases, home care agencies charge an assessment fee that may or may not be refundable upon provision of a set number of care hours.
Hourly, Daily and Overnight Rates
Home care costs are most commonly assessed at an hourly rate, particularly for clients who remain independent in the majority of their activities of daily living but would benefit from companionship and/or limited assistance. While the national average for hourly rates is $19.00 per hour, pricing varies significantly depending upon the general cost of living within a particular region.
In the state of Washington, for example, average rates are as follows:
- Seattle - $23.00 per hour
- Rest of State - $19.00 per hour
- State Average - $21.00 per hour
In almost all cases, home care agencies establish a minimum number of hours per day such as two or four hours for staffing purposes.
Daily rates are used when a client requires around-the-clock assistance and/or supervision. Instead of charging an hourly rate, home care agencies determine a daily rate that remains equitable given the fact that breaks and sleep are required for the caregiver. Home care costs based on a daily rate typically range from $200.00 per day to $350.00 per day, once again depending upon the cost of living within a particular region.
Overnight rates are also offered by home care agencies to ensure safety and security of clients who may get up frequently during the night or wander due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
This option is particularly helpful to family caregivers and/or couples when one spouse acts as the primary caregiver and desperately needs to sleep well during the night. Rates for overnight care range from $120.00 to $200.00 and typically consist of a 10 to 12 hour caregiver shift.
Paying for Home Care
While Medicare covers some home health care costs as they are medically necessary, home care costs are not covered. Therefore, home care services are typically paid for privately or by long-term care insurance policies.
For this reason, home care can often become cost prohibitive for seniors who require a significant amount of assistance and/or supervision. In such cases, senior living communities that provide daily meals, housekeeping and activities of daily living may be a more affordable option to consider.
Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.