Long-Term Care Options for Seniors

Why worry about long term care?

As life expectancies continue to rise, it becomes more and more likely that aging generations will need long-term care at some point. In 2015, life expectancy was about 79 years. Those of us who are 55 years old have a projected life expectancy of 84 years. Factoring in the possibility of long-term care is an important part of any estate or financial planning.

What are the various options for long term care, and what do they cost?

There are several different levels of care available to elders as they age depending on their need for assistance.

The first, and least invasive, type of care is adult day care which costs, on average, $18,200 per year.  These services may include medical and health services, social services or both.  This is a supportive group environment for seniors with cognitive and/or functional impairments.

Home care is another type of assistance available to seniors.  The national average cost for Home care is between $20,800 and $21,840 per year based on a $20-$21 per hour rate.  Home care consists of either a home health aide or a companion/homemaker.  This type of assistance allows the senior to “age in place” as an outside service comes into the home to help.

The next level of care is an assisted living facility (ALF).  The national average cost of staying in an ALF is $42,600.  Depending upon the chosen level of care, an ALF may provide services ranging from care management, assistance with every day activities, housekeeping, medication management, security, transportation, meals and social and recreational activities.  Medicaid, a federal program administered by the state that assists with long term care costs, may be available for residents of an ALF depending on current fiscal funding.

Finally, nursing homes are available to those who require the most assistance.  The national average annual cost of nursing homes is $81,030 for a semi-private room or $90,520 for a private room.  Nursing homes typically provide a secure environment and services to meet the physical, medical and social needs of their residents, such as:  room and board; nursing care; medication management; personal care; and social and recreational activities.  Many patients in nursing homes require assistance with multiple everyday activities (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring in and out of chairs or beds, and continence) and/or have cognitive limitations due to Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.  Certain nursing homes accept patients who are qualified for Medicaid, which helps cover the costs of nursing home services.

How can I plan now for possible long-term care?

Long term care is something you should discuss with your family, a financial planner, and your estate planning attorney. You will be in a position to make the best decisions when you know all the options and start making a plan early on!

Elder LawColin AustinComment