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Cost of Home Care vs. Nursing Care: The Ultimate Guide

Written by Chloe Clark
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated May 20, 2023
Reviewed by Todd AustinTodd Austin is a 40 under 40 winner and healthcare expert with deep experience in sales, marketing, and operations. He is a sought-after speaker and innovative thinker in health care who is passionate about delivering resonant messages, growing businesses, and helping others achieve their potential. He heads Home Care Pulse, a leading home care agency software solution.

When a senior loved one needs more advanced care or assistance, deciding how to provide this care can be challenging. Choosing between providing care at home or moving a loved one into a nursing home can involve many factors. In order to navigate this process, it’s essential to understand the level of care that your loved one needs and the difference in costs of care types.

Key Takeaways

  1. Home care is provided in the home of a senior loved one. This ranges from housekeeping services to more advanced personal care for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).
  2. Nursing homes are one of the few places someone can receive 24-hour care. Typically nursing home residents require more extensive medical care or assistance with a majority of their ADLs.
  3. The cost of nursing home care is often significantly higher than that of home care. The monthly cost of a nursing home depends on whether a parent is in a private or shared room, but it tends to be between $7,900 and $9,000 a month.
  4. Talking to experts is essential when deciding where a parent should receive care. A Senior Care Advisor can help you navigate these choices.

What is home care?

Home care refers to a type of care that is provided to someone in their home and is centered on areas that they specifically need assistance in, whether that is personal care or home health care. These types of care can be provided at an assisted living facility, but are more often based inside someone’s private residence.
Home care allows your loved one to remain in a space that they feel comfortable in, as well as retain their independence. Home care may include the following services:
  • Skilled care, also known as home health care, provided by nurses, physical therapists, or other medical professionals
  • Transportation, such as to appointments
  • Light housekeeping or meal planning and preparation services
  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing or bathing
  • Companionship
While home caregiving is often primarily done by a family member, the care is often supplemented by in-home help. Home care allows your loved one to customize their care plan so that they only receive — and pay for — assistance that they actually need.
Home care is often the best option when a parent needs some assistance but can perform most ADLs on their own or with prompting. Home care also tends to be a more affordable option for many families.

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What is nursing home care?

Nursing home care is a more intensive type of care that is provided in a residential setting.
Care in a nursing home may include the following services:
  • Skilled nursing care
  • 24/7 supervision
  • Meals provided three times a day
  • Assistance with ADLs and mobility
  • Specialized care, such as for those with memory loss
  • Hospice or palliative care
Nursing homes allow a loved one to receive the more advanced care that they need, especially when it is care that cannot feasibly be provided at home. Nursing homes are best for parents who may no longer be able to do the majority of ADLs without some form of assistance or who have medical needs that require consistent and frequent skilled nursing care.

The cost of home care vs. nursing homes

Understanding the difference in costs between home care and nursing homes can be somewhat tricky. Nursing home care can fluctuate based on factors such as medical care and living accommodations, whereas home care can fluctuate depending on the type and amount of care your loved one needs.

Cost of home care

The costs of home care can be divided into two kinds of care: nonmedical home care and home health care.
  • Nonmedical home care can include homemaking services, such as housekeeping and meal preparation. It can also include health aide services that assist with ADLs.
  • Home health care refers to skilled services administered by nurses, therapists, or other trained medical professionals. Your loved one will usually need a doctor’s prescription to start home health care. This type of care is typically a separate cost that may be covered by insurance or Medicare if certain criteria are met.
According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the hourly national median cost of nonmedical home care services in 2021 was $426 for homemaker services and $27 for home health aide services. The total cost can vary quite a bit based on the level and amount of care your parent needs. For example, 20 hours of home health aide care per week costs approximately $2,340 per month. If a loved one needs 24/7 in-home care, this cost will be substantially more.

Talk with a Senior Care Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Payment options for home care tend to include private funds such as retirement and savings accounts, but certain aspects may also be covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Medicare, Medicaid, or other types of insurance.

Cost of nursing home care

The costs of nursing home care tend to be significantly higher than care provided at home. This is because nursing home facilities provide set types of care, such as round-the-clock supervision, meals, rent, and medical care, which are bundled into the overall cost.
According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the national median cost per month for care in a nursing home was $7,908 for a shared room and $9,034 for a private room. This cost can sometimes be higher or lower depending on factors such as the location of the nursing home.
Payment options for long-term nursing home care can include private funds, Medicaid, and VA benefits.

Next steps

It’s helpful to be proactive when it comes to planning for senior care. Discuss with your parents what kind of care they may need in the future and where they would be most comfortable. If this decision is at hand, have a conversation with their medical provider about what the future may look like, and what care your parents need now.
Additionally, talking to a Senior Care Advisor can be beneficial for navigating next steps, understanding the different types of care, and finding home care providers near your loved one.


Meet the Author
Chloe Clark

Chloe Clark is a copywriter for OurParents. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, with a background in education and publishing. She has over a decade’s experience in writing for print publications and websites.

Edited byKristin Carroll
Reviewed byTodd Austin

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