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The Cost of Senior Care

Review the estimated costs of different types of elder care as well as what might be covered by Medicaid and Medicare.

You've done the research, and talked to friends, family and trusted doctors. You and your elderly parent have decided which type of care is best. But, there's so much you still have to learn, especially when it comes to the cost of senior care.

Here's a run-down of costs for the basic categories of senior care available in the U.S.:

Home Health Aides

  • According to MetLife in 2007, the average hourly cost of a home health aide worker $19 per hour.
  • In some states the surveyed rate was as high as $30 per hour and as low as $9 per hour.
  • Find in-home care aides.

Respite Care Providers

  • According to the federal government site, eldercare.gov, "The cost of respite care varies with the type of agency and the services needed, but federal and/or state programs may help to pay for it. Long-term care insurance policies may cover some of the cost of respite care. Your local AAA will have more information on whether financial assistance is available, depending on your situation and where you live."
  • Specific costs for respite providers range from $8-$30 per hour depending on whether the provider is employed by an agency or not and what state you live in. The cost for Boston Home Care may be different than Denver Home Care.
  • Find respite care.

Visiting Nurses

  • Services may be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Private care from qualified nurses will cost approximately $25-$60 per hour.
  • Many nursing agencies offer modified payment plans for qualified individuals.
  • Find nursing care.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

  • At the high-end, seniors can spend $20,000-$400,000 to purchase space in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (or CCRC) as well as a monthly fee of approximately $1,000-$4,000 for maintenance.
  • Fees vary according to whether one owns or rents; the size of the space -- cottage, studio, or apartment -- and its location; any amenities chosen, such as mobile emergency monitoring; whether the living space is for one or more individuals; the type of service contract chosen; and the senior's current health status.
  • Find retirement communities.

Assisted Living Facilities

  • In a smaller or shared environment, the cost ranges from $850-$4,000 per month.
  • If you qualify for financial assistance, the senior pays part of the rent (based on the person's financial picture) and government funding covers the rest. This is generally true in subsidized senior housing -- which is sometimes called congregate housing, Section 8, or HUD housing.
  • Find assisted living facilities.

Nursing Homes

  • According to a MetLife survey in 2007, the average cost for a private room in a nursing home is over $77,000 per year, or $213 per day.
  • For a semi-private room, the MetLife survey found the average to be $189 daily or over $68,000 per year.
  • Find nursing homes.

Hospice 

  • This may be free via funds donated by individuals, companies or communities.
  • The cost may be covered by the government and/or by Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Additional expenses paid by the senior may be required if one does not meet criteria for Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans benefits.
  • Find hospice care.


Lisa Tabachnick Hotta is the mother of two young children and a freelance writer, editor and researcher.

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