Budgeting For Senior Care – How Much Does Elder Care Cost?

The Costs of Senior Care Options

When planning for our retirement, most of us allocate money into a 401K or another savings program to take advantage of tax write-offs and to make sure we will be able to enjoy a nice lifestyle when we are no longer working from 9 to 5. We imagine using the money to supplement our monthly social security checks to enjoy vacations and other leisure activities while taking advantage of all those senior discounts.

The financial company advertisements assist us with the visions of enjoying gardening, sailing and relaxing during our retirement years. They don't show the other side of the reality which includes health problems which accompany aging.  Along with a longer life comes an increased chance for developing an age-related disease, such as Alzheimer's Disease or Parkinson's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease is now the sixth leading cause of death, according to the Alzheimer's Association. As we all witnessed from watching former President Ronald Reagan battle the disease, a senior with Alzheimer's Disease can live for many years, while requiring a caregiver to assist with their daily living. As Medicare does not pay for long-term senior care (only stays of 100 days or less in a nursing home for rehabilitation after a hospital stay, with doctor pre-approval, with only the first 20 days paid at 100% by Medicare), the costs can quickly add-up.

What are your senior care options when you need caregiving assistance for your activities of daily living?

  • Senior Home Care Agency
  • Nursing Home
  • Assisted Living Community
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community

How much do these options cost?

Based on prices effective as of January, 2009, here are the costs:

  • Senior Home Care Agency: $15 - $25 per day/$190 - $350per day (Most common hourly rate = $19, Most common daily rate = $225)
  • Nursing Home: $145 - $400 per day
  • Assisted Living Community: $3800 - $5,000 per month
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community: Down payment @ $250,000 + $3,000 - $5,000 per month

These costs are consolidated to account for the lowest to highest fees nationwide.

What are the ways to pay for these senior care options?

1) Private pay with your own savings
2) Long-term care insurance policy
3) Qualify for Medicaid care (nursing home only with the exception of a few states experimenting with home care, must have assets of $2,000 or less)

Remember that senior home care agencies actively manage the caregivers and provide for all the necessary insurance and payroll taxes for the caregiver as their employee. This guarantees that a substitute caregiver will be available when the regular caregiver cannot make the shift and provides active training and management of the caregiver.

When evaluating nursing homes, you should inquire about their ability to provide for your care if you end up needing to spend down your assets and go onto Medicaid insurance. Medicaid is administered by each state and provides for the needs of very low-income seniors, with the minimum in assets usually around $2,000. Most Continuing Care Retirement Communities do provide for care should a senior spend down their assets and need to be covered by Medicaid insurance. These communities also usually will refund a portion of the deposit upon a senior's death, based on the number of years and services actually used. As demonstrated by their name, they provide peace of mind for seniors by continuing to provide care at all levels of need, from independent living to around-the-clock nursing care.

Remember, Medicare does not pay for long-term care, which means to effectively plan for your senior care needs, you must plan for where you want to receive the care and save to pay for the care services either in a nursing home or in your home. While less than 7% of Americans over the age of 70 currently have long-term care insurance, it is predicted that more than 50% of Americans will have long-term care insurance in twenty years, as people witness their parents burn through their life savings to pay for their senior care needs. Research the options and manage your investments to allow you to choose your preferred senior care and look for unbiased, third-party information as a credible senior care resource.

Julie A. Northcutt, President of Caregiverlist.com, works to connect seniors and their loved ones with quality senior care options and caregivers with employment opportunities. After owning a senior home care agency for 7 years, she sold it to a national company to fulfill the need for interactive senior care information online with Caregiverlist.com.

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  2. Great post here, I have read so much about the important of planning but never have I read a concise prediction like yours. Thanks for providing the numbers, it really helps people to plan for the future and what they can expect to pay. Sometimes it is easier to have a concrete number in mind, rather than the vague notion to save as much as possible. Thanks again! Become a Facebook fan for discounts on Baby Boomer products and more