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The True Cost of Elderly Care at Home | $5000 a Month for Full-Time Care?

While nursing homes can offer fantastic round-the-clock care for those in need of it, it’s not always going to be everyone’s first choice, regardless of whether that’s down to financial concerns or personal preference.

There’s various factors to be considered when weighing up the costs associated with elderly care, including the cost of carers, groceries, and surveillance systems. These are all of course, necessary in providing adequate care for elderly folks living with conditions like dementia or a terminal illness. 

Find out more about how much home-based elderly care costs in the US below.

Average Cost of Elderly Care

Full-time Carer/Nurse$4,975 a month 
Part-time Carer/Nurse$788 a month
Groceries$60-105 per week
Meal Services$5->$10 per meal
House AdjustmentsN/A
Surveillance $35-$50 
Cleaner$40-$60 an hour

Cost of a Full-time Carer/Nurse

$27 an hour
$4,975 a month

In reality, many people will create more informal arrangements in which the caregiver, usually a family member or friend, lives with the person receiving care. 

In this case, hours ‘worked’ can vary dramatically according to the extent of care being given, what they consider to be ‘work’, and other factors.

The median cost of full-time care was estimated at $4,957 a month. That’s just shy of $60,000 a year.

What’s clear is that even the median cost of care does not come cheap. While the hourly cost sits at an average of $27, the hours worked in a week are always long.

Full-time care is very expensive to facilitate, and the cost of it has risen substantially year-on-year.

In the US, veterans are able to obtain exclusive financial aid and benefits packages to help cover care costs.

Long-term care is deliberately excluded from the majority of health insurance schemes and Medicare, likely because of how much it costs, so it’s important that the person receiving care carefully reviews any health insurance policies taken out in their lifetime. 

Cost of a Part-time Carer/Nurse

$27 an hour
$788 a month 

Full-time care is only required when mobility, physical health, or mental health is reduced to the point of being unable to live without a caregiver. 

This means that the recipient may be bedbound, struggle to move, fail to remember who or where they are, or be otherwise incapable of feeding and cleaning themselves. 

Full-time care will be most necessary for terminally ill people, as well as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other debilitating, progressive health issues.

Part-time care work is a minimum of 7 hours a week, costing $788 a month.

Most elderly folks won’t require full-time care. Also, full-time care isn’t always an eventuality. 

Part-time care is sometimes all that’s necessary to help elderly folks with household tasks, hygiene, and other basic needs—companionship being one of the most important and most overlooked.

Care agencies have something in the region of 7 hours a week as the minimum amount of hours carers can be hired for, which is just shy of $800 a week. 

Even if more hours are required, part-time can be a great way to juggle the balancing act for those already receiving informal care from loved ones throughout the week.


$60-$105 a week

Neither full nor part-time carers can provide a lot of the amenities that are needed to carry out their jobs, so ‘groceries’ here includes everything from toilet paper to fresh fruits and veg. 

Doing a weekly shop is ideal, since it will help prevent fresh foods from going uneaten and therefore saves money in the long-term by reducing wasted produce. 

A single person’s grocery bill doesn’t need to exceed $100 a week.

A single person’s grocery bill per week really doesn’t need to exceed $100, so it’s recommended to stick within this range if the person being cared for lives alone. 

It can be hard to cook for oneself when facing health issues. If the carer does not make meals as part of their role, make adjustments to the shopping list should it become clear that food is being left to rot. 

Begin to swap fresh products for frozen ones that will last longer and be easier to cook. 

Meal prep avoids wasting money on food that doesn’t get eaten and makes it easier to stay well-fed.

Meal prep on the weekends is an invaluable way to overcome the issue. Prepare healthy meals combining proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals that can be packed into tupperware and frozen. 

Aside from food products, if a carer has been hired, discuss with them the kinds of products they will need to carry out their work effectively. 

Though throw-away or single-use hygiene products may be tempting, this will significantly increase costs and is generally considered bad for the environment. Good quality towels will go a long way, for instance.

Meal Services

$5->$10 donation per meal

With increasingly busy lives, sometimes it is more logical to use a delivery service than to attempt to meal prep with groceries. These days, there are a number of great meal delivery services that cater to housebound elderly people. 

In fact, one might even consider Uber Eats and the like to be an equivalent, but for the sake of health and budget, stay away! At least until Friday night…

There’s more than 5,000 independently-funded meals on wheels programs in the US. Many are donation-based.

Meals on Wheels services across the country provide hot meals Monday to Friday. There’s more than 5,000 independently run programs that are funded primarily through the community. 

The costs of each service will vary, and said costs are often on a sliding scale depending on eligibility.

Ordinarily, meals are somewhere in the vicinity of $5 to $10 and participants are invited to pay what they can. Eligibility is usually just based on age (60+ only).

House Adjustments

Stair Handrail: $900
Walkers: >$60

One of the major benefits of nursing homes is that they are purpose built to handle all kinds of mobility issues.

Ordinary homes rarely ever are, and so will usually require some adjustments to make them safe and appropriate for elderly living.

Stairs are the most problematic aspect of regular homes, and can be a safety hazard in and of themselves. The adjustments needed will depend on the severity of immobility. 

Adjustments to homes make them safer and more suitable for elderly people living with mobility issues.

For example, some folks may be able to ascend and descend stairs so long as there is sturdy railing installed on either side of the staircase or wall. 

Complex adjustments include the creation of first-floor bathrooms, flattening floors, and revamping kitchens so that they are more ergonomic and safe in design. These projects can cost tens of thousands of dollars.


Budget security camera: $35-$50
Monitored security system: quote by quote

Cameras can provide caregivers peace of mind about where loved ones are and how safe they are.

Surveillance helps busy caregivers keep an eye on their loved ones, even on a budget.

Respecting the privacy of the person being observed is incredibly important, as it can quickly run the risk of sacrificing their dignity.

Never place cameras in bedrooms or bathrooms, and always ensure the express consent of the person being cared for is given before installing any devices.

Any security risks will need to be dealt with immediately, and it will be much easier if a monitoring service is able to call police or other relevant authorities for the person being cared for. 

Consent is crucial
For those with dementia, try to obtain written consent for recording. If the presence of devices starts to distress them, remove them. Everyone has a right to revoke consent.

Cost of a Cleaner

$40-65 an hour

Cleaning services can be a handy way to supplement the work carried out by a carer. With age, keeping a space tidy can become much more troublesome as ease of movement lessens. 

At $40-$60 an hour, cleaners are a luxury, but they can help supplement the work of caregivers.

A cleaner is, in a sense, a luxury, but if the budget calls for it, it’s definitely an easy way to keep the living space both more hygienic and safer for loved ones, avoiding the accumulation of trash and the obstruction of floor space.

Private versus Agency Carers – Which is Better?

In the US and elsewhere, it’s possible to work as a private carer or to be employed by an agency. 

For those pressed for time, opting for an agency is a no-brainer.

Carers will have already undergone full background checks conducted by the agency, have ample references, and all the relevant certifications needed to provide effective elderly care. 

Agencies act as the middleman, making the process of finding the perfect carer much more efficient. 

On the other hand, private carers are paid directly and are not represented by an agency.

Since this means they effectively have to advertise themselves, and sometimes with very little leverage, the process of finding a carer that works independently is more time-consuming. However, the prices will be much lower. 

Finding an independent carer is almost always done through word-of-mouth, or by hiring acquaintances, friends, or other family members.


Caregiving is expensive, even with financial aid. The actual cost of a carer is only one aspect of the expenses associated with both full and part-time care, which includes everything from weekly grocery shopping to making major structural adjustments to homes.

But caregiving is also a privilege—a painful privilege, but a privilege nonetheless, especially when it comes to caring for our loved ones. It’s powerful, essential work, and we salute everyone doing their part to help make life easier for those in need of an extra helping hand.

Additional Resources for Caregivers

  • Alzheimer’s Caregiving – Learn skills for coping with a loved one’s behavioral changes caused by Alzheimer’s.
  • Caregiver Resources – Find and access resources designed to help protect the health of people working in care.
  • Caring for the Caregiver – For family and friends who are caring for a person with cancer. 
  • Managing Someone Else’s Money Guide – Get practical information about managing someone else’s finances, including those named in a power of attorney or guardianship, as a trustee, or as the recipient of Veteran benefits from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 
  • VA Caregiver Support Line – Support line for those caring for veterans. Find services and benefits for loved ones and get support for yourself.
  • Office on Women’s Health Caregiver Page – Learn how to prevent and relieve caregiver stress and how to find and pay for home health care services.