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Custodial care is non-medical care that helps individuals with activities of daily living and basic care needs. Custodial care is typically recommended by a medical professional, even though the actual providers of custodial care are not medical professionals themselves.

Custodial care is a popular form of long-term support for seniors whose primary needs involve non-medical assistance on a daily or ongoing basis. Custodians who serve in this capacity are not required to have any type of medical background, official training or certifications. Custodial care can occur in a range of environments including in-home senior care, adult day care, assisted living centers, and residential care facilities. Read on to learn more about this type of care including the average costs, ways to pay for care, and where to find exceptional senior custodial caregivers.

What is Custodial Care?

Because custodial caregivers for seniors aren't required to have any formal medical training, these providers typically are limited to performing certain basic duties. Primarily, they can help with the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, going to the bathroom and offering ambulatory assistance. These caregivers may also be willing to provide light housekeeping services and run errands for their charges. Beneficiaries of custodial care most typically have a chronic condition where a full recovery is not anticipated. However, custodians can be invaluable to seniors and their families on a part-time or short term basis when a respite for primary caregivers is necessary.

Custodial care providers work in various elderly facilities but most often provide in-home care services for seniors with minimal needs who want to age in place. These seniors also tend to have strong familial support systems to meet their additional needs that non-medical custodial caregivers cannot provide, such as administering medication. Most custodial caregivers do opt for some type of training and certification to become Homemakers, Personal Care Assistants and Home Health Aides, yet their services are still limited to non-medical roles. However, seniors who anticipate needing medical care in addition to assistance with activities of daily living may want to look into skilled nursing care, which differs from custodial care.

Skilled Nursing Care vs Custodial Care

Patients who receive skilled nursing care are often in need of services while recovering from a short-term medical issue, receiving end-of-life-care or palliative care. Skilled nursing professionals are medically trained, licensed and work under the supervision of a team of medical providers. There are many levels of medical skilled nursing providers such as certified nursing assistants, registered nursing assistants and registered nurses who are often employed for specialized care and terminal patient needs. These types of caregivers are essential for those who need medication dispensed, wound care, physical therapy, intravenous injections, catheters, etc.

The Cost of Custodial Care for Seniors

If you or your loved one has determined that a non-medical custodial caregiver will suffice at this time, there are a few considerations that will ultimately determine how much care will cost.

  • Will you be using an agency or hiring an individual yourself? Agencies can cost a bit more, but they do all the legwork to ensure that only quality caregivers are employed.
  • Will you be seeking in-home care, adult day care, or an assisted living/residential community?
  • Will the assistance be part-time, full-time or on an as needed basis?
  • If hiring an individual on your own, will you plan to offer bonuses and raises?
  • Where do you live? Of course, the higher the cost of living in your area is, the more care is likely to cost.
  • Does the beneficiary suffer from a memory disorder, have mobility issues or another condition that calls for more in-depth caregiver experience?

While all of these will factor into the final cost of custodial care, here are some national averages from 2017 concerning the estimated costs of custodial care for seniors.

  • Homemaker Non-Medical Providers — $3,994 per month
  • Non-Medical Home Health Aides / Personal Care Assistants — $4,099 per month
  • Adult Day Care — $1,517 per month (depending upon hours)

While not commonly utilized for non-medical custodial care situations, some seniors opt to start with these options to maintain continuity in care. These are the average costs associated with facility style living arrangements.

  • Assisted Living Facilities — $3,750 per month
  • Semi-Private Room Nursing Home Care — $7,148 per month
  • Private Room Nursing Home Care — $8,121 per month

There are a number of ways one can pay for and/or supplement the costs of custodial care.

Paying for Custodial Care

Those with traditional health insurance plans may have benefits available for informal caregivers that provide custodial care, but will need to check their policy carefully to determine whether they offer this coverage, as many only reimburse costs associated with skilled nursing care. Veterans may be able to utilize their government benefits to cover all or part of custodial care, especially within VA hospital settings or within the home. SSI disability recipients may also qualify for certain eligible for benefits.However, most individuals inquire about Medicare, Medicaid and Long-Term Care Insurance coverage.

  • Medicare: Medicare typically doesn't cover custodial care benefits, but it may for a short period (100 days or less) if it is combined with skilled medical care that is prescribed by a physician. When utilized in unison with private insurance, Medicare can be a useful supplement in certain situations.
  • Medicaid: One must meet strict financial requirements to qualify for state-administered Medicaid services to pay for custodial care. Furthermore, this program typically requires that beneficiaries be under care within an approved facility such as a nursing home or assisted living. While benefits vary from state-to-state, some will cover adult day care and homemaker services for seniors who qualify.
  • Long Term Care Insurance: Long term care insurance (LTC) is one of the best options for paying for senior custodial care, especially when combined with supplemental Medicare coverage. These fixed-priced policies vary in coverage, but often provide reimbursement for care for several years.

Where Can I Find Custodial Care Near Me?

You can easily find all of your local options for custodial care here in our directory or by simply giving us a call on our helpline. We are here to answer any questions you may have about custodial care.

Reviewed By

Scott Witt

Elder Home Care Expert

Scott founded Select Home Care Portland in 2009 and has been helping seniors live their best life at home or in their local senior community ever since. As an advocate for seniors, the primary philosophy has been to listen, educate and provide… Learn More About Scott Witt

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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