How Much Will Elder Care Cost? A Useful Tool for Caregivers

If you are a fan of “all-things-numbers,” this post is for you. If you tingle at the sight of a spreadsheet, you may want to view this in a private room.

You see, the MetLife 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs has been released, and it is chock-full of data about the cost of elder care. Thankfully, National Public Radio has provided an interactive spreadsheet summarizing the report’s results.

(c) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
(c) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

To access this super-cool spreadsheet, click here.

Here are some tips for using it:

  1. Find the four tabs at the top: Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Home Care, and Adult Day Care. Click on the type of care your family member needs.
  2. Some tabs will have subcategories. For instance, the Nursing Home tab will allow you to view costs for a semi-private room compared to a private room. The Home Care tab will allow you to find rates for home health aides (if your loved one needs personal care such as bathing) and homemakers (if only meal preparation, cleaning, and related tasks are needed). In these cases, make sure you are looking under the proper subcategory.
  3. Find your state. Some states will only have statewide statistics available, while others will have rates for different regions within the state. Find the row most applicable to you.
  4. Be aware that low, high, and average rates are provided (in that order).

Let’s try it out. If you are caring for someone in Chicago who needs home care, first click on Home Care. Decide whether you are looking for a home health aide or a homemaker and scroll down to Illinois. You’ll see that hourly rates for a home health aide in Chicago range from $19 to $25 with an average rate of $22 an hour. Homemakers in Chicago will cost you between $18 and $25 an hour with an average hourly rate of $21.

Let’s do one more (I could do this all day). If you’re searching for an assisted living facility in the Highland Park area, first click on Assisted Living. Scroll down to Illinois and find the Highland Park row of data. You’ll see that you can expect to pay a monthly base rate that ranges between $3200 and $5779 with an average cost of $4517 per month.


Yes, this chart may be easy to read and extremely useful for caregivers, but the numbers can also be startling. That’s why it’s so important for caregivers to begin planning for the financial side of caregiving well in advance.

We’ll be talking about how to go about this kind of planning in future posts. In the meantime, try to look at this spreadsheet for what it is: fantastic information in a format that (for nerdy types) could even be viewed as a fun way to spend the afternoon.

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