The expensive elephant in the room
Oftentimes, the subject of long-term care and the needs of aging relatives is the elephantin the room. No one wants to talk about it, but addressing it now and making plans early can result in more options and less stress for everyone in the family. It’s a decision that impact the “baby boomers” in our community who are integral to the history of our area.
Lack of planning prevents most people from having the luxury of remaining in their homes. Instead, many must make due with Medicaid and the option of living in a nursing home.
The most obvious way to provide sufficient funds for in-home care is to buy long-term care insurance, while another option for a small percentage of people is personal wealth, where it’s likely you’ll need liquidity in the $2 million range to live comfortably.
In-home care sitters average $16.50 per hour. For a 40-hour workweek, that’s $660 or $34,320 a year. For 24/7/365 care, it’s more than $144,000 annually.
Privately paid, private rooms in skilled nursing homes are as much as $300 a day and more than $108,000 annually. In 2015, the low-end average was more than $80,000. By 2021 these costs will be over $120,000 annually, double what they were in 2011.
How old will you be in 2031? And what happens if costs continue to double every 10 years?
Assisted living placement is becoming an attractive alternative, in many cases more financially feasible for families making hard decisions.
In terms of cost-benefit, assisted living is, on average, $2,400 less than the costs of a 40-hour sitter annually, plus the added benefits of no housekeeping and no maintenance costs, no grocery bills, no utilities, help with medications, activities, freedom to come and go as you please and someone there at night in case of a fall.
Even with 24-7 in-home help, some elders won’t allow the paid caregiver to assist. The spouse caregiver risks injury daily, and loses sleep most nights. Well-meaning spouses may also lack training, provide inadequate care, lack social stimulation and develop burnout.
In terms of health and relationship benefits, assisted living allows sons and daughters and husbands and wives to return to their most comfortable, most practiced roles with each other. Families rely on the bonds they create, and the stress of caregiving can take a toll. Leave the role of caregiver to the professionals.