Wisconsin is home to almost one million senior citizens, and those aged 65 and older account for about 17% of the Badger State’s population. The Department of Health Services Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources oversees an array of programs to enhance the quality of life for Wisconsin seniors who choose to age in place at home. The state also gives seniors greater peace of mind about hiring help by closely regulating the personal care agencies that provide in-home services. Wisconsin seniors can expect to pay $4,767 per month for in-home assistance, which is about $475 more than the average paid nationally.

This guide offers insight into home care costs and financial assistance options to help cover the cost of in-home care, as well as low-cost and free resources that may benefit Wisconsin seniors who wish to remain in their own homes.

The Cost of In-Home Care in Wisconsin

In-Home Care Costs in Nearby States

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2019, home care in Wisconsin costs $4,767 per month, on average. Although this is considerably higher than the $4,290 national median, it is identical to the monthly cost in neighboring Iowa and $762 less than the $5,529 average paid in adjacent Minnesota. Prices for in-home care are somewhat lower in Illinois and Michigan, where the average monthly costs are $4,481 and $4,385, respectively.

$4767

Wisconsin

$4290

United States Average

$5529

Minnesota

$4767

Iowa

$4481

Illinois

$4385

Michigan

Cost of Other Types of Care in Wisconsin

Nonmedical home care falls midrange on the senior care cost spectrum in Wisconsin. At $4,767 per month, the average cost is on par with the rate for home health care, which includes skilled nursing and home health aide services. The average monthly cost of residential assisted living is lower at $4,350, while the rate for nursing home care is significantly higher at $8,273 per month. Adult day care is the least expensive care option in Wisconsin, with an average monthly cost of $1,560.

$4767

In-Home Care

$4767

Home Health Care

$1560

Adult Day Care

$4350

Assisted Living Facility

$8273

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of In-Home Care in Wisconsin’s Top Cities

Comparing Costs Across Wisconsin

A comparison of the average costs for home care in Wisconsin’s largest cities shows that monthly rates vary by about $750. At $5,339, the cost of in-home care is highest in Madison, the state capital, and slightly lower in the largest city, Milwaukee at $5,100. Prices in Green Bay and Racine are quite close at $4,900 and $4,862 per month, respectively. Appleton has the lowest rate among the state’s top five cities, with an average cost of $4,576 per month for in-home care.

$5100

Milwaukee

$5339

Madison

$4900

Green Bay

$4862

Racine

$4576

Appleton

Financial Assistance for In-Home Care in Wisconsin

Family Care and Family Care Partnership Programs

Wisconsin Medicaid offers two managed care programs designed to help eligible seniors continue living at home and prevent premature nursing home placements. The Family Care and Family Care Partnership programs allow seniors to choose their own caregiver, including certain family members. The programs provide a range of supportive in-home benefits, such as personal care, home health, nursing and transportation services, home modifications to improve safety and accessibility, durable medical equipment and personal emergency response systems. The Family Care Partnership program also covers medical services and prescription drugs.

Who Is Eligible?
Seniors must be aged 65 or older and meet Wisconsin Medicaid’s functional and financial criteria to qualify for either program. Family Care is available statewide to all eligible applicants, whereas the Partnership program is currently only offered in 14 Wisconsin counties.

How to Apply
To apply for the Family Care or Family Care Partnership program, seniors can contact their local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC).

Include, Respect, I Self-Direct Waiver

The Include, Respect, I Self Direct (IRIS) waiver offered by Wisconsin Medicaid gives eligible seniors and disabled adults the ability to self-direct their care at home and avoid nursing home admission. Participants work with a case manager to determine their long-term care goals, identify the services and supports they require and develop a personalized care plan and budget. Seniors may use their IRIS budget to pay for personal care, live-in caregiver and nursing services, medical supplies and equipment, home and vehicle modifications, nonmedical transportation and numerous other goods and services. The program also allows participants to hire friends and relatives as live-in caregivers and personal care providers.

Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for the waiver, Wisconsin residents aged 65 and older must be financially eligible for Medicaid coverage and assessed as needing a nursing home level of care. IRIS is not an entitlement of Wisconsin Medicaid, so the number of participants is capped and there may be a waiting list to enroll in the program.

How to Apply
Interested seniors may contact their local ADRC to learn more about the IRIS waiver and begin the application process.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

The Wisconsin Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offers eligible individuals the support they need to retain their independence and age in place at home. The program provides participants with comprehensive medical care, as well as social and support services. Each enrollee is assigned a case manager who coordinates their care, which is delivered at home and by an interdisciplinary team at the local PACE center.

PACE participants receive full medical, vision, dental and prescription drug coverage, as well as in-home personal care and nursing services. Other benefits include prepared meals, nutritional counseling, recreational and social programs and medical transportation services. Medicare beneficiaries pay a monthly fee based on their income, while seniors who are also eligible for Medicaid may receive PACE services free of charge.

Who Is Eligible?
Currently, the Wisconsin PACE program is only available to residents of Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha County who live within a PACE center’s zip code-defined service area. To qualify for the program, applicants must be aged 55 or older and require a nursing facility level of care, and they must be able to safely live at home with provided assistance.

How to Apply
To find out if the PACE program is available in their zip code and apply, interested individuals should contact their local ADRC.

More Ways to Pay for In-Home Care

While the above programs help many people finance in-home care, they will not cover all costs for everyone. There are other ways to pay for in-home care, including out-of-pocket arrangements with siblings, annuities, reverse mortgages, private insurance and more. Read Caring.com’s Guide to In-Home Care Costs to learn more about these alternative payment options.

Free and Low-Cost In-Home Care Resources in Wisconsin

There are a number of low-cost and free resources available to help Wisconsin seniors maintain their independence as they age in place in their own homes. These resources include home-delivered meals, wellness programs, companionship programs and transportation services, among others.

ContactArea ServedServices Provided
Elderly Nutrition Program

Contact your local county or tribal aging office to sign upEntire stateFrail or disabled seniors aged 60 and over can receive healthy, home-delivered meals at no charge through Wisconsin’s elderly nutrition program.
Evidence-Based Programs for Better HealthLearn about available programs or call the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging at 608-243-5690 for assistanceVarious locations throughout the stateThe WIHS coordinates programs to improve the health and quality of life of Wisconsin seniors. There are programs related to chronic disease management, diabetes prevention and control, chronic pain management, fall prevention and enhancing physical activity.
Transportation Services

Contact your tribal or county aging office to learn about services in your areaEntire stateThe transportation needs of seniors are met in various ways through Wisconsin’s aging offices. Depending on the county and community, van or bus services, volunteer drivers and shared-ride taxi services may be available.
Family Caregiver Support Program

Contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center or call the Family Caregiver helpline at 866-843-9810Entire stateThe FCSP supports caregivers of Wisconsin residents aged 60 and older with various low-cost or free programs, which may include training, support groups, counseling and respite care assistance.
Senior Companion Program

Call 414-906-2779 in Milwaukee, or contact the Great Lakes Intertribal Council program at 715-588-3324Milwaukee area and statewide through the Great Lakes Intertribal CouncilThe senior companion program matches elderly residents in need of companionship and help with day-to-day activities with senior volunteers aged 55 and older.
Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

Contact the agency in your county

Various Wisconsin countiesThe SFMNP program provides low-income seniors aged 60 and over with checks to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs at participating farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
SeniorCare Prescription Drug Assistance

Contact your county or tribal aging office to learn more or applyEntire stateThe SeniorCare program helps Wisconsin residents aged 65 and over lower their prescription drug costs. Participants pay a $30 annual fee and receive discounts on a sliding scale according to their income.

In-Home Care Laws and Regulations in Wisconsin

Personal care agencies that provide nonmedical in-home services in Wisconsin are licensed and regulated by the Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance. The DQA also conducts scheduled and unscheduled inspections and investigates complaints filed against PCAs. The following table provides an overview of the rules and regulations governing PCAs in Wisconsin.

Scope of CarePCAs may offer a number of nonmedical services for clients. An agency’s personal care workers may provide assistance with personal care, such as bathing, oral hygiene, grooming and dressing. PCAs may also help with transfers and ambulation and assist with routine bodily functions and maintaining continence. Staff may also complete light housekeeping chores, prepare meals, provide companionship, accompany clients to medical appointments and perform errands, such as grocery shopping.
Care Plan RequirementsPCAs must assess each new client and draft a service plan for their care. The plan must include the specific services that the agency’s PCWs will provide, as well as the frequency and duration of visits.
Medication Management RequirementsPCWs may provide reminders and assist clients with self-administration of medications. PCAs that have a written medication management policy in place and a registered nurse on staff may allow personal care workers to administer medications to clients. PCWs must receive documented training on medication administration before providing this service and be able to contact an on-call RN with questions or concerns.
Staff Screening RequirementsPCAs must have background and criminal history checks conducted on individuals applying to work directly with clients as PCWs and make hiring decisions based on the results. Prospective employees must also be screened for tuberculosis.
Staff Training RequirementsPCWs who provide direct care to clients must complete agency provided training on general care-related topics and the specific skills needed to perform the various services the agency provides. PCAs must also provide relevant ongoing training for all direct care workers.
Medicaid CoverageWisconsin Medicaid provides coverage for home care services through its Family Care and Family Care Partnership programs, as well as the IRIS waiver. In-home services are also covered through the PACE program, which is available in Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha County.
Reporting AbuseConcerned parties may report abuse, exploitation or neglect of a Wisconsin resident aged 60 or older by contacting the Elder Adults-at-Risk helpline in their county.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Financial Assistance Programs for In-Home Care in Wisconsin?

Seniors and disabled adults may receive help paying for in-home care through Wisconsin Medicaid’s Family Care and Family Care Partnership programs or the IRIS waiver. Residents of Milwaukee, Racine or Waukesha County may also qualify for in-home services through the PACE program.

Are There Transportation Assistance Programs in Wisconsin?

The transportation services available to Wisconsin seniors vary between counties and communities and are coordinated through local tribal and county aging offices. Depending on the locale, seniors may be able to access bus or van services, rides from volunteer drivers or shared-ride taxi services.

How Much Does In-Home Care Cost in Wisconsin?

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2019, home care services cost an average of $4,767 per month in Wisconsin. This is about $475 higher than the national median, but it is on par with the monthly average for home health services, which include skilled nursing care.

What Does It Mean to Age in Place?

Aging in place refers to a senior’s choice and ability to continue living at home, rather than moving to an institutional setting. Achieving this may involve making accessibility and safety home improvements, using assistive technologies and hiring outside help to accomplish activities of daily living.

What Types of Services Does a Home Care Aide Provide?

In Wisconsin, home care workers may assist with personal care tasks, including bathing, grooming, dressing and maintaining continence, provide reminders and help seniors self-administer medications. They may also complete housekeeping and cooking tasks, shop for groceries, run errands and accompany seniors to appointments.

Home Care Services in Wisconsin (180)