I. What You Should Know About Home Care in Houston, TX

Houston is one of the largest cities in the nation, with a population of 2.3 million, 10% of whom are seniors aged 65 and older. The elderly population of close to a quarter of a million creates a strong demand for home health care and home care assistance. Houston is a popular destination for retirees, especially those who have health conditions that benefit from year-long warm weather. It’s close enough to the ocean for day trips to the beach and has plenty of parks and other green spaces in the city.

Sports fans have access to professional football (the Houston Texans), baseball (Houston Astros) or basketball (Houston Rockets), as well as soccer and hockey. Shopping destinations range from large indoor malls to small boutiques scattered throughout the metro area.

The overall cost of living for Houston is just under the national average, although within each suburb, housing costs can vary. However, Texas doesn’t levy a state income tax, which can benefit seniors living off Social Security or retirement pensions and investments. Another benefit of living in a larger city is the wealth of senior support services, from Agencies on Aging to food banks, senior citizens activity communities and veterans centers.

II. What You Should Expect to Pay for Home Care in Houston, TX

The average monthly costs for both homemaker services and home health care aides in Houston is $4,290 for 44 hours of service per week, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2020. This works out to $22.50 per hour, although the costs for individual providers can vary. For example, homemaker services that also provide transportation may cost a little extra, to recoup the cost of gas.

Most seniors average about six hours per day for in-home care, which can be all at one time or throughout the day, such as for seniors who need periodic checks of blood sugar, medication management and supervision, or help with meals and daily grooming.

The Cost of Home Care & Home Health Care in Nearby Cities

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2020, Houston’s cost for homemaker services is comparable to the other three major Texas cities, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. The Texas average is about a hundred dollars less, while the national average is a couple of hundred dollars more.

The Cost of Home Care Compared to Other Senior Living Options

While in-home assistance and health care is a popular option for seniors who wish to age in place in their communities, other elder care options are available for Houston residents. Adult day care, which is the least expensive, is useful for families who may not be able to provide care for an elderly relative during the day due to work or school. Assisted living, long-term care communities that provide much of the same personal assistance and light medical care that in-home providers do, is several hundred dollars more per month. Accommodations in a skilled nursing home are the most expensive, both for private and semi-private rooms.

III. How to Find Home Care in Houston, TX

Finding a home care provider for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Below, we explain the process of how to find a home care provider in 5 simple steps. Use the infographic below to help guide your search for in-home care in Houston, TX.

An infographic giving steps to finding a home care provider

Remember that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong choice – it comes down to choosing a provider that you feel comfortable with and who’s capable of meeting your specific needs. No matter which provider you choose, you should always have a formal arrangement with your expectations and the payment rate in writing. Doing so will prevent confusion or potential disagreements down the line so that the focus remains on helping the person receiving care.

IV. Home Care Resources for Seniors in Houston, TX

Texas Medicaid STAR+PLUS HCBS program

What You Should Know
This is a waiver administered by Texas Medicaid and is intended to help seniors avoid moving into a nursing home. Typically, the waiver pays for either accommodation in an assisted living community or for homemaker and home health care services.

Who Is Eligible?
The program is open to all Texas Medicaid recipients, although applicants must demonstrate that they need a nursing home level of care and that they meet financial eligibility thresholds. Documentation from the individual’s primary care provider suffices for medical needs.

The income guidelines for the STAR+PLUS HCBS are $2,349 per month for single applicants and $28,188 per year. There are asset caps as well. Married couples’ eligibility differs according to whether one or both spouses are applying for the waiver, although one spouse may transfer part of their monthly income to the spouse applying for the waiver.

How to Get Started
Applicants can find more information at Texas Medicaid website or can call 2-1-1 to speak with a caseworker. For seniors who are not currently enrolled in Medicaid, Texas Benefits has an online application. The Houston Agency on Aging also has caseworkers who can help seniors navigate the application process or provide translation if necessary.

Harris County Area Agency on Aging

What You Should Know
The Agency on Aging funds and organizes many different resources for seniors in the greater Houston area. Caseworkers help the elderly locate state and federal benefits they may be eligible for, such as health care, Medicaid, food stamps, or Social Security. The Agency hosts congregate lunches at area senior citizen centers and has meal delivery programs for those unable to leave their homes. The AAA also educates seniors about topics such as nutrition and wellness, financial planning and technology.

Who Is Eligible?
Some of the affiliate programs may have different age limits, but most of the programs directly administered by the AAA specifically state that participants must be Harris County residents and aged 60 and older.

How to Get Started
The Area Agency on Aging has a comprehensive list of services and links for seniors to explore. Individuals may contact the Agency on Aging via phone at 832-393-4301 or email at [email protected].

Harris County Home Repair Program

What You Should Know
Local volunteers provide home repair assistance for those in need. Winterization, which involves adding insulation and sealing windows and doors to prevent leaks and drafts, is common, as are roof repairs and general handyman services. Other assistance can include outfitting a home for those with limited mobility, such as installing a wheelchair ramp or grab bars in the bathroom. Homeowners may also receive assistance bringing a home back to good repair after water or fire damage, and some mold remediation services may also be available. The program is administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Who Is Eligible?
Anyone who needs help repairing water wells or septic systems may receive assistance from this program, although all other services are limited to seniors and those with a qualifying disability. For elderly or disabled applicants, the program offers up to $20,000 assistance in the form of a grant for home reconstruction. Those eligible have low to moderate incomes of equal to or less than 80% of the median family income for the region.

How to Get Started
Those seeking home repairs or modifications can fill out an application, available here, and submit it to the following address:

Harris County Community Services Department
Attention: Home Repair Program
8410 Lantern Point
Houston, TX 77054

More information is available at the Harris County Home Repair Program, or call (832) 927-4957 to speak with a representative. You can also ask for an application to be mailed to you, or email [email protected].

Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels

What You Should Know
This community outreach program helps those unable to leave their homes or prepare a healthy meal for themselves. Local volunteers deliver hot meals Monday through Friday and reheatable meals on Fridays for the weekend. For pet owners, the Meals on Wheels program also has “Animeals,” which delivers nutritious dog or cat food. Those in the most need or those who are isolated or frail may receive a week’s worth of breakfast deliveries, too.

Who Is Eligible?
Eligibility is based on income, and open to residents of Harris, Galveston, Montgomery, Liberty and Chambers counties. The program is partially funded by the Harris County Agency on Aging, so some of the eligibility guidelines for the AAA may apply here.

How to Get Started
Individuals may sign up by calling 713-533-4978. More information about the program is available at Interfaith Ministries. For those who wish to enroll in Animeals, more information may be found here.

Thomas A. Glazier Senior Education Center

What You Should Know
The Senior Education Center is a senior citizens center centrally located in Houston, near The Woodlands suburb. It’s open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and hosts lunches for members each day. Many of the activities of the Senior Center are aimed to help seniors reduce isolation and meet new friends, explore new interests, or gather with others who share their interests.

Who Is Eligible?
Membership is open to all individuals aged 55 and older.

How to Get Started
Seniors interested in participating in group activities may visit the Thomas A. Glazier Senior Education Center or call (713) 274-3250. An activities calendar may be found here, although the schedule is subject to change.