Long-term care is not just nursing home care, like many of us think. I often speak about the “Elder Care Continuum”, which describes what many of us and our loved ones will or are experiencing as we age or face health challenges. In the beginning you may have little to no real limitations, reside in your home with no cost of care, and have private insurance through Medicare and various compliments. As you continue to age and some health issues arise, perhaps you’ll need to pay for some in-home assistance, which may be covered or paid for by VA Benefits, community services, or private caretakers. As your needs become greater and limitations increase, perhaps a move into a retirement community becomes more appropriate, funded by Social Security and retirement income.
Assisted living and then nursing home care, can be costly. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey for 2020, the monthly median cost for homemaker services is $4,481, and a home health aide costs $4,566. The monthly median cost for Adult Day Health Care is $1,300 and for an Assisted Living Facility, the cost averages $4,566 per month. The average semi-private nursing home room costs $7,148 per month and averages $8,213 for a private room.
How do you get the care you need when it’s so costly?
- Self-fund or private pay: for individuals with substantial assets, it is sometimes possible with smart financial planning to pay for care based on the return on their existing investment portfolio; but with the above cost of care figures, this is exceedingly rare for most.
- Long-Term Care Insurance: This is an insurance policy that helps cover the costs of long-term care when you need it and is often used as a hedge from depleting one’s liquid assets.
- Veterans Aid & Attendance: may provide wartime veterans and their spouses with up to $3,071 per month to pay for the cost of care in the community or an assisted living facility.
- Family Caregivers: utilizing a Care Contract or Medicaid Caretaker Child Exception to compensate a loved one for caring for a family member in their home, keeping the individual from needing nursing home care.
- Medicare: offers limited long-term care coverage.
- Medicaid: pays for nursing home, assisted living, or Medicaid in the community for eligible individuals; there are many misconceptions about this program, and many believe that a spouse must be truly destitute to be eligible, or that the house must be signed over to the State.
In most circumstances a combination of the above options will ensure that you or your loved one receive the dignified care deserved, in an environment that is most appropriate. Planning for these experiences, that we all will inevitably encounter, should start early. Managing big change starts with a little conversation. Give us a call – we are ready to listen.