Approximately 70% of all seniors will require some type of long-term care at some point as they age. A good number of seniors prefer to receive care in their homes, where they have a lifetime full of memories and are familiar with their surroundings. Home care and home health care make that possible, but knowing which type of care is best suited for an individual’s needs can be confusing. Both types of care address very specific needs, so it’s important to understand their differences.

This guide covers the choice between home care vs. home health care, including the types of care provided, the costs for both and what the best option is based on individual needs.

Home Care vs. Home Health Care

Home Care

Home Health Care


At home

At home

Care Provided

Assistance with ADLs

Assistance with ADLs, light medical, skilled nursing

Average Monthly Cost



Who Should Consider It

Seniors who want to age in place

Seniors who want to age in place while receiving short- and long-term medical care

Home Care

Home care is any nonmedical assistance an individual receives in the comfort of their own home. Clinical staff members or home care aides provide this type of care, and it includes assistance with bathing, mobility, meals, transportation, grooming, medication reminders and companionship. Seniors may start out requiring help with only two or three needs but can progress to include additional services, including assistive technologies and home modifications.

Average Cost of Home Care

The average cost of home care varies greatly from one location to the next and is also impacted by the number of hours an individual needs help. According to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost of care in the United States for 44 hours per week is $4,957. The hourly rate is around $27.

What Seniors Are a Good Fit for Home Care?

Seniors looking for an alternative to residential care, including an assisted living facility or nursing home, may choose home care instead. This type of care may be ideal for those struggling with mobility issues and needing help to safely move throughout their homes. Other criteria for home care may include:

  • Individuals who can no longer drive or need transportation for basic errands and medical appointments
  • Seniors without family and friends close by and who feel isolated
  • Those who require help with activities of daily living
  • Individuals who’ve just been diagnosed with memory issues
  • Those recovering from an accident or illness

Reasons To Choose Home Care

One of the main reasons to choose home care is to provide help for seniors who can no longer care for themselves. There will be signs that an individual needs assistance, including weight loss, decreased mobility, poor hygiene, isolation and an increase in falls and accidents.

Home Health Care

Home health care differs from home care in that it provides some light medical assistance, including skilled nursing. Home health care also involves other medically necessary needs, including occupational, speech and physical therapy, wound care, IV administration, medication management, health monitoring and help with activities of daily living.

Home health care is provided by licensed or highly trained individuals, and a referral from a physician is needed. Home health providers typically work very closely with an individual’s physician to ensure all medical needs are met and the physician receives regular updates on a patient’s condition.

Cost of Home Health Care

Because home health care includes professional assistance, the cost tends to be slightly more than traditional home care. The estimated cost across the United States is around $5,148 per month. This is less than nursing home costs but tends to be more than assisted living costs. Keep in mind, the cost of home health care can vary depending on your location and the types of care provided.

How To Pay for Home Health Care Services

Both public and private insurance may cover part of the cost of home health care. Room and board and social activities are generally not covered; however, medically necessary services are usually covered. Many seniors use savings or income to pay for home health care and other long-term care services. Other options for payment may include a home equity loan, annuities, life insurance cash-outs and reverse mortgages.

Who Benefits from Home Health Care?

Older adults who want to save money by taking care of their own medical care needs may be excellent candidates for home health care. Seniors who own their homes or those who prefer to remain with family and friends while still receiving adequate care may benefit most from home health care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is eligible for home health care?

Seniors with a health condition or those who require special health monitoring may be eligible for home health care. Those with long- and short-term medical needs, require special medical equipment or prefer to receive care at home rather than entering a nursing home or other long-term care facility may also be suitable candidates.

What is a personal care plan?

Seniors in residential care and home care benefit from a personal care plan. This plan is a guide that details any health conditions, lifestyle preferences and the types of care needed. A personal care plan also lists the number of hours a senior requires help at home and what professionals are needed.

Does home health care require a referral?

Home care doesn’t require a physician’s referral. However, home health care does. Home health care providers work closely with an individual’s primary care physician to address any health concerns and to ensure all medical needs are met. A physician’s referral is also typically required for insurance to cover the cost of skilled nursing and medical assistance provided by home health care.