Do you have an aging parent who is beginning to need help with daily functions? There may be a need for basic help around the house, such as cleaning and cooking, assistance with personal care like bathing and dressing, or transportation for routine errands or medical appointments. It can be daunting to research the cost of in-home care and compare that with care in assisted living or senior care facilities. Which way to go may depend on the amount and type of care needed. Factors affecting the cost of care include the level of care, the length of the shift, and geographic location.
Aging in Place with Dignity
Most of us would prefer for our parents to stay home in the familiar, safe, and comfortable home surroundings they love. However, not everyone is in a position to help aging parents with daily tasks. When we can’t be there, an in-home caregiver might be a perfect solution. A caregiver makes it possible for your parent to “age in place” with a certain level of independence and dignity. Cost is an important consideration for families when it comes to deciding on the best solution. Here are some examples of possible costs to help you make an informed decision.
Cost Differences In Levels of Care
Here are the levels of care, from basic to advanced care, and their associated costs:
- Companion Care – Basic care is an affordable option when your loved one needs only a few hours of assistance per day or help two or three days per week. Companion care tasks include meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, transportation, medication reminders, and safety monitoring. A plan of 15–20 hours per week typically would run between $375–$520 per week, or around $1,500–$2,200 per month. Expect to pay a bit more if you require short shifts of only two or three hours per day.
- Basic Personal Care – If assistance is needed with bathing, dressing, grooming, or transfers, rates generally run a few dollars more. The caregiver would perform all the tasks included in companion care and also help with the activities of daily living. Someone who is able to stay safely alone for several hours a day might do well with a 4-hour shift. If the individual cannot be left alone but has family support during the evenings, weekends and overnight, an eight-hour shift would be advisable. Depending on the number of hours per week, costs may run between $550 to $1,100 per week.
- Advanced Personal Care / Memory Care – When a client’s needs include bed care, transfers involving mechanical devices, or medication management, or when a client has dementia that presents challenging behaviors, specialized caregiver training is required, resulting in an hourly rate that may be 10 percent or more higher than basic care.
- 24/7 Care – When continuous care is needed, the cost of care generally exceeds the cost of comparable care in a facility. However, in-home care offers the advantage of dedicated caregivers who can provide consistent care. Round-the-clock care may be requested when a client is expected to need it for a limited time, such as while recovering for an illness or during an end-of-life situation. The cost of 24/7 care may run $4,500–$5,000 per week.
Ways to Cover In-home Caregiver Costs
Planning ahead for in-home care is wise when the goal is to live at home for as long as possible. Here are some ways to cover the cost of in-home care:
1. Long-term Care Insurance – Ideally set up when one is in their 50s, long-term care insurance plans often cover in-home care as well as facility-based care. Limitations apply, so it’s important to know exactly what you are getting when buying long-term care insurance.
2. Savings and Investments– Older people are sometimes hesitant to use the funds they have accumulated over a lifetime, fearing they might not last as long as they need. With the help of a financial planner, it may be possible to convert these assets into a steady income that can be used to pay for long-term care. Ask about annuities and other instruments that may protect a portion of the investment while providing funds for immediate expenses.
3. Family Support – When an elderly person’s funds are limited, adult children and grandchildren may choose to pool their resources to help fund the cost of care. This can relieve them from having to become caregivers themselves and is a great way to say thank you for all the love and support the loved one has provided them in the past.
4. Home Equity – Often, seniors may be living in a home with a fully-paid mortgage that has increased in value over the years. Why not consider using some equity to cover the cost of care? A home equity conversion mortgage can provide needed funds with no payments due until the home is sold.
5. Government Assistance – Community-based care for needy individuals may be funded through Medicaid in some states. In addition, grants for short-term respite care may be available from the local agencies through the National Family Caregiver Support Program. To learn more, contact a Local Social Service Agency or the Department of Aging.
In summary, in-home care expenses will vary depending on your particular situation and needs. However, careful research and planning will make it possible for your elderly loved one to age in place with dignity.