Making Home Care More Affordable

Non-medical home care services are a great way to help aging loved ones or those with a disability live more independently and safely in their own home. It also gives primary caregivers a break from providing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing, as well as chores like cooking and housekeeping. For many individuals who do not have family close by or have a strong support system, home care can become their primary care giving source. However, these services can be cost-prohibitive for many and are not covered under health insurance, except for short periods of time if someone is receiving home healthcare or hospice services. But again, this coverage is very limited. Thus, paying out-of-pocket is typically how you receive these types of non-medical services.

The national hourly median rate for home care is approximately $20/hour¹. Do the math and you can quickly see how expensive it can get on a monthly basis. For some, these costs can be handled and is a fair price to pay to avoid moving to a personal care home or nursing home. But, for many more, they must limit its use or simply go without it, which lays the burden of care giving directly on family and friends.

State & County Funding

Fortunately there is some financial assistance available to those who qualify. State and county funding vary from state to state. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program offer coverage to help pay or offset costs of a variety of services and goods including services like non-medical home care and other services to help older Pennsylvanians age in place. Each of these programs has its own non-financial and financial medical assistance eligibility requirements (click here for details).

These programs include (click here):

 Veteran Administration Funding

Another form of financial assistance to cover the costs of home care and facility based care, which for many years went highly unpublicized, is the VA’s Aid & Attendance and Housebound Pension (click here). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs it offers:

“Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to a monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to pension.

 Since Aid and Attendance and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.”

Eligibility for this program is based on need, finances and military service requirements. Contact your local Pension Management Center (click here) to find out more about this pension program. You can also connect with your local VA representative by contacting your local county Area Agency on Aging.

Grant Funding

 Sometimes if you search hard enough you might discover a grant program that will help pay for a service like home care. One such program is that of the Cheryl Kay Foundation (CKF), whose mission is to improve the quality of living and independence for women battling breast cancer and senior citizens in financial need. The Cheryl Kay Foundation is a Mechanicsburg, PA-based family organization dedicated to affordable, dignified, and accessible home care services. They offer $1,000 grants to help offset the cost of care for qualified individuals. CKF eligibility requirements include any woman undergoing breast cancer treatment or individuals 79 years of age or older, who live alone or with a spouse, and whose monthly income is between $2,022 and a maximum of $3,635, aimed at helping those who do not financially qualify for the Aging Waiver mentioned earlier in the article.

CKF was founded in 2013 by the family of Cheryl Kay Stawovy, who passed away after battling breast cancer. The foundation seeks to honor Cheryl’s life and model the spirit of neighbor helping neighbor. They work with a limited number of non-profit home care providers to serve those in need, and Messiah Lifeways At Home (MLAH) is one of only two not-for-profit home care providers in Cumberland County, PA. The grant can allow clients to hire Messiah Lifeways At Home as an extra set of hands during the treatment and recovery phase of breast cancer or to eligible seniors to receive the assistance they need. These one-time grants can cover approximately 50 hours of care for people who otherwise might not be able to afford it. To learn more, please visit

Lastly, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) created a great website – This free site provides an easy way to find a wide range of benefits, especially for older adults. It’s a very simple site that allows you to search for programs and services to help pay for benefits you or a loved one may be entitled to. Often people had no idea they were eligible for assistance or didn’t realize the aid even existed. Knowing is definitely half the battle.

This article is full of links that will take you directly to the program sites mentioned. If you need more assistance or have additional questions regarding home care services, please call Messiah Lifeways At Home at 717.790-8209 or visit


Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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