How to Pay for Assisted Living and Home Care
Figuring out how to pay for senior care can be a major issue for many families. Retirement savings, the sale of the family home, private health insurance, veteran’s benefits and long-term care insurance are all potential sources of funding to pay for this type of care. The calculus involved is highly situational and varies greatly from one senior to the next.
It’s important to note that there can be a significant financial difference between staying at home and moving into an assisted living facility. A 2018 survey conducted by Genworth Financial found that the median monthly cost for an assisted living community is $4,000 – totaling $48,000 annually. By comparison, long-term care by a home health aide tops $4,195 monthly or more than $50,300 annually. Skilled nursing in a private room will set you back $8,365 per month, adding up to more than $100,000 per year. Prices can vary a lot depending on where in the country the community is located and which services a senior is using.
Hiring Private Care
Hiring a private home care aide or live-in care can also get expensive. Although millions of family members provide unpaid care to older relatives around the country every day, when we’re talking about professional caregivers, fees can range widely. Hourly rates tend to fall between $15 and $25 per hour or $150 to $300/day. This will depend on how the care contract is structured, the state you live in and what kind of services are being provided. Bottom line: Home-care options can be just as expensive or more so than moving to an assisted living facility. This will depend on a range of factors, and it’s important to do your due diligence to determine what you’ll have the financial reserves to pay for.
In addition to important decisions about where a loved one will receive the best care, it’s important to consider the costs associated with that care and to understand what insurance – most likely Medicare – will and will not cover. Medicare does not cover the cost of or help to pay for assisted living arrangements. This means that people generally must pay either out-of-pocket or with the help of long-term care insurance. However, Medicare will only pay for home care services after a decline in function of the senior and it will only cover short term services.
How Long Can Home Care Last?
As needs change, a senior’s ability to continue living at home may change too. For many people that means there will come a time when they must move into an assisted living or nursing home setting. Knowing when is the right time to move can be a tricky question that’s different for everyone.
Assisted living should be considered when the safety of an older person becomes a factor. Some examples are:
- being susceptible to a fall
- taking the wrong medications
- experiencing weight loss from unhealthy eating
- the inability to cook safely
- developing cognitive deficits
Then it might be time to start thinking about moving into an assisted living community.
Mental health issues, such as feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression, may also prompt a move. Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. A 2018 survey from the health insurer Cigna noted that roughly half of all Americans feel lonely. However, 88% of those who have daily in-person interactions say their overall health and mental health are good or excellent.
In other cases, when a senior develops multiple chronic medical conditions that require frequent doctor’s appointments to manage, it may be time to move into assisted living to make care more accessible. The simple logistics of having access to health care on site can decrease many trips to doctor’s offices.
Assisted Living Guilt
Moving a loved one into assisted living can be a difficult decision and challenging transition. Many adult children feel guilty about moving a parent into assisted living. However the majority later come back and report it was the best thing for their parent. Adult children often have more trouble with the transition than the parent. Assisted living can bring a new lease on life with an active setting, new friends and new hobbies. Services in assisted living are available 24/7, therefore, you have peace of mind that someone is always there to assist.
In all things related to senior care, it is important to plan early and do your due diligence. This will decrease feelings of guilt and stress. Moving into assisted living is a new chapter in someone’s life. Being prepared ahead of time offers an opportunity to get excited about it instead of dreading it.
Knowing that their own wishes have been heard and honored as much as possible will also make a world of difference in how a senior feels about a move to a new home – if and when the time comes.