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Homewatch CareGivers Blog

Putting a Price on the Cost of Care

by Homewatch CareGivers | Jan 26, 2015
It’s usually the first question an adult son or daughter asks when researching home care for their elder parent: “How much does it cost?”

Calculating the Cost of Care

It’s usually the first question an adult son or daughter asks when researching home care for their elder parent: “How much does it cost?”

And often the answer is: “It depends.” This reply can lead to frustration for those who are already feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of finding care for their loved one.

The short answer is, according to two surveys on long-term care costs in 2014 (Genworth and Northwestern Mutual), $19 per hour. However, there are a variety of factors that can mean you will pay less or more than that amount.

First, location matters. The hourly costs for home care services vary not just from state to state but from town to town, as well as from company to company. Next, until an expert can evaluate the needs of your family, it is a best guess as to what services are best and if you need more skilled services then the cost will likely be greater.  Finally, having an insured, bonded, background-checked and specially trained caregiver means a higher quality of care, which may come at a price.

Be Prepared

“Over the past 40 years, Genworth has worked hard to educate today’s families on the need to plan for the significant financial risk that long term care could impose on them,” said Tom McInerney, Genworth president and chief executive officer. “With the number of Americans over 65 projected to double over the next 40 years, continued increases in the cost of care and limited public financing options available to cover these costs, long term care is one of the most important social issues of our time.”

All long-term care costs—assisted living, nursing home, home health aides, home care—are increasing each year. According to Genworth, “the cost to receive care in an assisted living facility is rising at a much faster rate [than home care]. The median annual cost for care in an assisted living facility is $42,000. This represents an increase of 4.29 percent annually over the past five years. The comparable cost for a private nursing home room is $87,600, which has increased 4.19 percent annually over the past five years.”

The choices in long-term care are personal and different for each family, but regardless of preference in home care vs. nursing home, experts advise starting an open and honest dialogue about it with loved ones today to be prepared for costs. Find out who in your family has a long-term care insurance policy, which might help with these costs.

What Are You Shopping For?

There is no denying the importance of cost in long-term care, but perhaps the first question should instead be: what do I need? In some instances a doctor may tell a patient or their family exactly what type of additional care is needed after a surgery, diagnosis, or discharge and even recommend a specific company to call. When that doesn’t happen, step back and figure out the problem and then how to solve it. Are you spending every weekend running errands like picking up groceries and medications for an elder loved one who no longer drives? A professional caregiver can come by during the week and help out, leaving you to enjoy leisure activities with your loved one on the weekend instead. If your Mom seems lonely while you are at work all day, a professional caregiver can spend time engaging in her favorite activities with her. A professional caregiver can assist with ambulation for bathing and medication reminders too.

There is another category of care for those who require at-home physical therapy, wound care, prescription management and pain management and another set of costs for each. In addition, one’s care needs change over time and due to unforeseen circumstances so that too will affect costs.

When shopping for long-term care in the home, cost is just one of many factors to consider—not only the costs of the actual service, but costs of travel for loved ones driving to and from a new location or costs of home upkeep to lost wages incurred for family caregivers who try to do it alone.

Check out the Genworth Long-term Care Costs calculator to begin your research.