When an older family member or loved one begins to struggle with tasks of daily living, it’s time to discuss options to better help them live a happy and safe life. Most people immediately envision nursing homes when it comes to assistive care, but there are other options including home care that can keep your loved one in the home with you for as long as possible.
However, as with any other caregiving service, senior home care costs money; how much will depend on a variety of factors. If your family is considering senior home care, here’s what you need to know about how much it costs, what factors into the price and how you can get help affording it.
What Home Care Encompasses
Senior home care is not a set service that looks the same in all instances. Rather, it is a combination of necessary assistance types based on the areas in which your loved one is struggling. Home care is best for individuals who are having trouble with mobility and need a way to get around the house safely, as well as those who can no longer perform activities of daily living, such as feeding themselves and bathing safely.
Even those who only need limited housekeeping help or transportation to the store or appointments may qualify for home care. The type of services to be provided depends on your budget and the home care provider you choose, as well as what your loved one can and cannot manage on their own.
What Factors Into Senior Home Care Costs
There is usually not a flat fee for senior home care; instead, costs will typically be calculated based on the number of hours that your loved one needs assistance and the complexity of those services.
Having an in-home senior caregiver visit for one hour a day to help tidy the house is going to be more affordable than someone who carefully attends to a senior during an 8-hour workday and provides transportation. Individuals who provide physical therapy, respiratory therapy or maintenance of medical devices such as catheters will also typically cost more. In general, families can expect to pay almost $5,000 per month for home health care.
However, this average is gleaned from senior caregivers that provide not only basic assistance but also nursing services, so your bill could be lower if medical concerns are not involved. This cost is, on average, less expensive than residential skilled nursing, which will cost families around $7,900 per month nationwide if the individual is in a shared room.
These prices will differ by state and even by area, with metro areas tending to cost more. You can speak with multiple home care providers to learn what services will impact your bill the most.
Options for Paying for Senior Home Care
If you believe that senior home care is a good fit for someone you love, the next question becomes paying for the service. While paying out of pocket is always an option, private insurance may cover some of the expenses related to home health care. Most commonly, this happens when someone has previously purchased a long-term care insurance policy which should be done years in advance of potentially needing assistance.
If there is not an insurance policy to rely on, life insurance can sometimes be used to pay for long-term care depending on the details of the policy. Many people also choose to take out a reverse mortgage to leverage the equity they have built in their home over the years.
In some circumstances, Medicare may cover the cost but a series of stringent requirements must be met in order to qualify. These include certification by a doctor, being entirely homebound, working with a Medicare-approved provider of home health services and more.
However, even Medicare-covered services will not offer some features, such as cleaning or grocery shopping, as well as care 24/7.
Medicaid is more lenient in its requirements, but individuals must fall under a low threshold for valued assets. If your loved one does not, check the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waivers or Section 1115 demonstration waivers.
Find Home Care in Your Area Through Senior Community Helpers
Senior home care can be an empowering service that equips your loved one with the services they need to stay at home and enjoy a robust quality of life in their older years. However, the cost can be prohibitive.
The Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia helps older adults and their families to find and utilize services in their area, including senior home care (and caregiver support groups). Reach out to learn more about the resources available in your area or to ask questions about senior home care and what to expect.