11 Tips for Lowering the Cost of Home Care
With a little knowledge about the home care business and some creative thinking, families can save considerable money on the cost of caring for a loved one at home. In addition to the 10 tips outlined here, families may also want to search our database for programs that help pay for home care or find affordable care. 1) Consider Independent Caregivers instead of Home Care Agencies
Families may achieve significant savings by using independent caregivers instead of caregivers retained through professional organizations. Independent caregivers are typically 20% - 30% less expensive than agency provided resources. However, there are drawbacks to using independent caregivers and therefore this approach may not be appropriate for all families. For example, agencies perform background checks on their employees and provide substitutes when the home care aide is unable to work on short notice.
2) Use a Home Care Aide instead of Home Health Aide
It is important to determine the needs of individual requiring home care. Do they absolutely require a home health care aide or would their needs be met by using a home care aide? If they do require home health aides, do they need them daily or perhaps only some days / week and can accept a home care aide for the remaining days. Depending on the state, home care aides are typically 5% - 10% less expensive than home health aides.
3) Be Aware of Tax Credits and Deductions
There are tax credits and deductions available to the elderly and their families depending on how they file their taxes. Filing as an individual, a married couple or a married couple filing separately can impact a family’s tax payments. There are tax prep programs available online that will make these filing decisions easier. In addition, if an elderly person can be claimed as a dependent on someone’s return, they can receive further credits. You can learn about these options on the following pages.State Tax Credits for Elderly Dependent CareMedical Expenses Tax DeductionsElderly and Disabled Tax Credit
4) Make Home Modifications to Reduce Home Care Needs
Many states and non-profit organizations offer loans, grants and construction assistance to low income elderly individuals to make home modifications which make their homes safer and more accessible. Modifications to stairs, bedrooms and bathrooms can diminish, delay or eliminate all together the need for home care aides. The University of Southern California’s Gerontology Center maintains a database of home modification resources by state. You can visit their website here
or search for assistance programs locally
5) Respite Care Can Offset Home Care Hours
There are many respite care programs offered by state and non-profit organizations; Alzheimer’s Respite
, Veteran Administration Respite
and National Family Caregiver Support Respite
to name just a few. These programs often provide free or low cost respite care to qualified families. Respite care can directly offset the need for home care aides; 5 hours of free respite care eliminate the need for 5 hours of paid home care aides. In addition to the respite resources above, one can use the Respite Program Locator Tool
to find other programs.
6) Purchase Prescription Drugs from Canada
discussion avoids all political, legal and ethical questions associated
with obtaining prescription drugs from Canada. We are not advising
families for or against, we are simply examining the subject from an
economic and procedural perspective
There is no question that some drugs can be purchased online from Canadian
pharmacies with relative ease and at significant cost savings. One study
found prices to be on average 25% less than in the US. For brand-name
drugs, savings were as high as 50%. For
generics, the saving were generally lower.
The process for purchasing medications is slightly different at each pharmacy
but generally speaking, one mails, faxes or emails their prescription, pays
with a credit card and receives the medication by mail a few days to weeks
later. Given the delay in obtaining one’s medications, Canadian
pharmacies are more appropriate for those with long term medicinal needs. Most
Canadian pharmacies can provide all the refills on the prescription in a single
order making ordering both more convenient and less expensive.
You can check the cost of medications at different Canadian and US pharmacies at this website that tracks medication costs
to see if using a Canadian pharmacy would benefit your family.
7) Use Internet-Based Home Monitoring to Lower Home Care Hours
Sometimes families use home care aides to monitor their elderly loved ones at home from their work location. It may not be necessary to have a home care aide for 6 or 8 hours / day if they are only providing direct assistance for part of that time.
Monitoring a loved one using an Internet based home monitoring system can do that same job at a lesser cost. Home monitoring systems use sensors and cameras to relay videos and send alerts over the Internet enabling a family member to monitor their loved one remotely from their place of work on the computer or from the road on their mobile device. You can learn more about internet based monitoring systems here
8) Meal Preparation / Meal Delivery Services
Many families loved ones' require assistance with the preparation of meals, be that in the shopping and planning for meals or in the heating and serving of meals for consumption. Services such as Meals on Wheels (MOW) offer subsidized meals that may cost less than it would to prepare meals for oneself and certainly cost less and are more nutritious than purchasing frozen meals. There are 1000s of MOW programs
across the country, each with its own eligibility requirements and meal benefits.
Alternatively, if paying for home care, one might ask a caregiver to prepare, label and refrigerate meals in advance for times when the care recipient is alone. Caregivers sometimes have downtime when looking after an elderly person and can perform double duty.
9) Shop Around for a Caregiver
The difference in the hourly rates caregivers charge, even in the same city or county can vary significantly. A MetLife study finds that within most geographic areas there is a 30% range in the hourly cost of home care. Admittedly, shopping around can be difficult and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are many free services that help individuals to find the best and most affordable care for their needs. Get help finding the most affordable care in your area
10) Lower Other Household Costs
Heating and / or cooling a house can be a major expense for elderly individuals living at home. Often times, they live in older homes which are not the most cost effective to maintain at a comfortable living temperature. There are public assistance programs available in almost every state called LIHEAPs
that help with the energy costs for heating or cooling a home. There are also weatherization assistance programs
, that provide funds to make home modifications which result in a more weatherproof living environment and thereby further reduce heating and cooling costs.
11) Consider Adult Day Care
Adult Day Care is similar to receiving home care but instead the individual goes to a day care center during normal working hours. Many individuals who require care prefer going to a day care center several days a week for the social interaction and recreational activities that a group environment provides.
The cost savings of using adult day care is extraordinary. Nationwide the average cost of home care for 8 hours is $152 and for adult day care the cost is $70. If an individual who requires 40 hours of home care / week used adult day care just 2 days a week, the annual cost saving would be over $8,000.
While transportation to and from the day care center is a consideration, many adult day care centers provide shuttle services and most urban areas also have free or very affordable paratransit services for the elderly or disabled. Find adult day care in your area
Finally families can use our Home Care Financial Resource Locator Tool to search for financial assistance to help pay for home health care or look for affordable home care.
Page Updated / Reviewed - Nov. 2012