Cost of in-home care is getting more expensive

Seniors hoping to age in place could pay more than $52,000 a year.

By Michelle Singletary

When my father-in-law came to live with my family, we hired home health aides to help with his care.

He couldn’t cook or feed himself and needed help with bathing and getting dressed. He required assistance taking his medication and even rising from a bed or chair.

My father-in-law had a decent amount of savings, but to try and make the money last longer to cover the long-term care he needed, we hired someone for just four hours in the morning and then another aide came for two hours in the evening to help my father-in-law get ready for bed. The rest of the time my husband and I were his caregivers.

It cost about $20 an hour for the in-home care services. And when my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and placed under hospice care, we kept the one aide he liked and significantly increased her hours because he was in so much pain and needed extra attention.

When people ask for advice about helping their elderly parents age in place — in their own homes — I suggest they look into in-home care.

The cost of long-term care will make you choke, which is why many families turn to the less expensive option of in-home care.

But a new survey by Genworth Financial found that the fastest-rising long-term care cost is not for the most skilled care at a nursing home or assisted-living facility, but the cost for in-home services.

Genworth reported that the cost of homemaker services — in which an aide may help with tasks such as cooking, cleaning and running errands — has increased 7.14% in the last 12 months. That’s four times the increase in the median cost of a private room in a nursing home, which rose 1.82%. The cost of a home health aide — who assists someone in eating, getting dressed or taking medication — increased 4.55%.

On an annual basis, the median cost for homemaker services is $51,480 based on 44 hours per week ($22.50 an hour). The yearly cost of home health-aide services is $52,624 ($23 an hour).

Looking at state-by-state data, the median monthly costs for home health-aide services is lowest in Louisiana at $3,241, compared with a high of $5,815 in Minnesota and Washington.

In its 2019 Annual Cost of Care survey, Genworth added a new category for in-home services — skilled nursing care. The median cost is $87.50 per visit.

The annual median cost of care in a nursing home is $90,155 for a semi-private room and $102,200 for a private room. The daily rate for a semi-private nursing home care ranges from a low of $160 in Texas and Oklahoma to a high of $994 in Alaska.

The median yearly cost of care in an assisted-living facility is $48,612. The lowest monthly rate for assisted-living facility care was $2,881 in Missouri. The highest was $11,288 in the District of Columbia.

“The findings underscore the need for individuals and families to plan ahead for who will care for them and how they will pay for it,” said Gordon Saunders, a Genworth senior manager who manages the Cost of Care Survey.

At some point in their senior years, most Americans will need long-term care. The problem is many people don’t realize that Medicare does not cover long-term care except in very limited situations. Medicaid does provide coverage, but to qualify for the benefit you have to be low-income.

The cost of care for in-home services is rising for a number of reasons, according to Genworth.

“Home care providers we consulted say the tight labor market has intensified the competition for care professionals,” Saunders said. “They must offer higher pay and more benefits to compete against other higher-paying and less demanding service jobs.”

There’s also a relatively high turnover of workers in this field. Managing patients with developing cognitive impairments or mental health issues can take a supreme physical and emotional toll.

Employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 36% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Labor Department. The median annual wage for home health aides was $24,200 in May 2018.

I understand that the cost of in-home care — even compared to the price of a nursing home or assisted living facility — may still give you pause.

But when my father-in-law closed his eyes for the last time and took his last breath, standing at his bedside with me and my husband was his home-care aide. By the time of his death, Ronda was practically living with us. She was a saint and well worth the cost of her services.

— Washington Post Writers Group

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.

Tanner Mock begins unwrapping new furniture that has been delivered on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Everett, new look, new name for mainstay Behar’s Furniture

Conlin’s Furniture, based in South Dakota, bought the huge store and celebrates with a grand opening this week.