If you have a parent, grandparent or other loved one who needs some help getting by on their own at home, it can be a challenge to find the appropriate care option. There are agencies throughout the country that provide both home care and home health care services, but knowing which one is right for your situation isn’t always clear.

In general, a home care worker will provide personal support with daily activities while a home health caregiver will deliver limited medical services. Some people may need just one type of service or a mixture of both. The purpose of this guide is to help you learn more about what services each type of care provides, how much they cost and who should consider them.

Home Care

Home Health Care


In home

In home

Care Provided

Help with daily activities, medication management, eating, etc.

Wound dressing, vital sign monitoring, medication administration, etc.

Average Monthly Cost



Who Should Consider It

Homebound seniors who want an alternative to assisted living

Seniors at home recovering from illness, injury or surgery

Home Health Care

Home health care is a medical service provided in a patient’s own home to help treat an illness or injury or help a senior recover from surgery. The goal of hiring a caregiver is to help the patient regain their independence, slow the decline of a chronic condition or maintain their current level of health. Home health care is often a preferred alternative to staying in a skilled nursing facility or other types of long-term care communities.

Home health care covers a wide range of services, including everything from medication management and pain checks to providing intravenous medications by a skilled nurse. Some other examples of common services include:

  • Monitoring vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature and heart rate
  • Wound dressing for surgery scars or pressure sores
  • Speech, occupational or nutrition therapy
  • Monitoring serious illnesses

Caregivers also play an important role in educating patients and families about the conditions they face and what to expect going forward. This is done in coordination with your physician and other medical professionals. It’s the responsibility of your doctor to refer you to a home care agency so that they can perform an assessment and start delivering service.

The average cost of home health care in the United States is $5,148 per month. This figure is based on 44 hours of caregiving per week. The median hourly rate for care is $27. Typically, you will pay a bit more for home health care than you will for non-medical home care. Medicare and Medicaid both pay for this type of care in some circumstances, which should make getting help affordable for yourself or a loved one. 

Home Care

Home care, which is sometimes called in-home care, is a service that allows people who need daily help with activities to remain in their own homes. This may be needed on a temporary basis for seniors recovering from illness or injury, or it may be required on a permanent basis for those with chronic conditions and special needs. Home caregivers are capable of providing a wide range of services, including:

  • Personal assistance with bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Housekeeping, such as cleaning and laundry as well as yard work
  • Bringing prepared meals or cooking meals in the home
  • Paying bills, reading bank statements and other money management activities
  • Companionships and activity coordination
  • Transportation and running errands

If your loved one needs additional care related to their health, such as checking vital signs or administering medication, home health care may be a better option. Home care is only able to provide non-medical services, such as providing medication reminders or picking up prescriptions. In most cases, home caregivers can fulfill any reasonable request you or your loved one has. 

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey for 2021, the median cost of home care in the United States is $4,957 per month — slightly less than the average rate for home health care. Not every senior needs the same amount of home care, so the average hourly cost of $26 may be more helpful. A home care assessment will help you and your home care agency decide how many hours per week are required to fulfill all of your loved one’s needs. Your exact cost will likely depend on the city in which care is provided. You may qualify for some government benefits to pay for home care in some jurisdictions, but Medicare does not usually pay for non-medical services.