Multiple factors should be taken into consideration when looking for care, but the cost of care tends to be a high priority for most families in their decision-making. Depending on the type of care you seek, it could cost anywhere from $4,500 to $8,900 per month, according to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Report. Luckily, with so many advancements in senior care and various routes to choose from, there are options suitable for everyone.
Understanding Care Needs to Determine Costs
Not all senior care options are going to fit every set of needs. In almost all cases, the level of care needed will directly correlate with the cost to pay for long-term senior care. Typically, a full health and lifestyle evaluation can help you sort through the key questions and determine the level of care needed. Some of the key factors to consider, either individually or with the help of a care provider, include:
- General Health Screening: Does the individual have chronic or recurrent health conditions?
- Mobility Concerns: Does the individual have trouble moving on their own or require assistance with everyday movement?
- Mental Health: Does the individual have any diagnosed mental health conditions that would require regular care?
- Personal Care: Does the individual require assistance with personal care such as bathing, getting dressed, making meals, cleaning, etc.?
- Rehabilitation Care: Has a recent hospital stay or injury called for long or short-term rehabilitation?
- Aging-Related Diseases: Does Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or another aging-related disease affect their ability to care for themselves?
If the majority of these factors are a concern for you, you may likely require a higher level of care. In addition to these health-related questions, it’s helpful to understand if the person seeking care feels comfortable living a self-sufficient lifestyle or if they would prefer access to care on a more frequent basis.
Long-Term Senior Care Services and Costs
Today, there are senior care options that suit anyone’s needs, and you or a loved one should feel comfortable knowing there is a care option right for you.
Assisted Living for Seniors
Assisted Living provides long-term housing in senior communities with access to personalized senior care. This is best suited for individuals with a moderate need for care who want to maintain a level of independence and socialization. In general, services offered include:
- Medication management
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Dressing and grooming
In addition to these care services, assisted living will provide meals, physical and social activities and encourage an overall healthy lifestyle. Residents are encouraged to bring personal belongings and decor to make their house feel like home. Staff is available 24/7 in case of an emergency or any needs outside of standard care. The median monthly cost of assisted living in the United States is $4,500, according to Genworths 2021 Care Cost Report.
Nursing Home Care for Seniors
Nursing home care is for seniors with complex health needs. Nursing homes provide housing with access to high-level care in a community setting. It’s best suited for seniors who have severe health conditions, require short or long-term around-the-clock care, or require extensive mobility care. Along with standard housekeeping, meals, and activities, the services offered include:
- Medication management
- Physical therapy
- Wound or injury care
- Transportation and mobility care
- Specialized care for complex diagnoses
- Memory care
- Speech and occupational therapy
Because nursing homes offer a higher level of care for their senior residents, the costs are higher than those of assisted living. The median cost for a nursing home private room in 2021 was $8,900 a month for a private room and $7,800 for a semi-private room. Both options would receive the same level of care, with the difference only being living accommodations.
Home care is for seniors who wish to remain within their homes and require care visits daily or weekly. This is best for independent seniors who only require assistance with household tasks or mild medical care. Homecare services providers will come to the senior’s residence and assist with housekeeping, laundry, errands, and light healthcare services such as bathing, short-term injury care, and mild physical therapy. Home care is given on an hourly basis, and the median cost is $27 an hour. While homecare can be short-term, many seniors benefit from long-term homecare.
Memory care is a type of specialized care for seniors who have memory-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. These long-term, residential facilities are tailored specifically to complex needs of memory-related needs. Those with memory-related diseases often require higher supervision and advanced medical training to be properly cared for. This is the best option for seniors who suffer from memory loss and can provide services such as:
- 24/7 access to nurses and staff
- Secure grounds with monitored exits and entrances
- Medication management
- Dressing, grooming, and bathing assistance
- Social services
- Cognitive health programs and therapies
Memory care facilities can provide high-quality care while also offering a welcoming environment with plenty of social and physical activities. The median cost of memory care is $6,900.
Independent living services are long-term residential communities for seniors who require little assistance but want to live a more stress-free lifestyle. Individuals must be ages 55+ and meet financial and health standards to be accepted into an independent living community. These facilities will offer social engagements, wellness facilities, well-kept grounds, easy navigation, and laundry services. Independent living facilities do not offer healthcare services and are tailored for seniors who are highly independent but want a peaceful and hassle-free residence. Independent living costs range widely based on location, amenities, and home options. On average, the cost of independent living communities is between $3,500 and $10,000 a month.
Senior Care Costs at a Glance
Once you understand your or your loved one’s need for senior care services, it’s easier to make a decision on what style of care to choose. However, when taking costs and services into consideration, a comparative breakout is helpful.
Best for: Relatively self-sufficient seniors who require mild personal and medical care
Median Cost: $4,500 monthly
Best For: Seniors who require high-level care and medical assistance
Median Cost: $7,800 – $8,900 monthly
Best For: Seniors who wish to live at home and have daily or weekly care services
Median Cost: $27 per hour
Best For Seniors who have memory-related diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimers
Median Cost: $6,900 monthly
Best for: Self-sufficient seniors seeking convenience in a residential community
Median Cost: $3,500 to $10,000 monthly
What Factors Determine The Cost of Senior Care?
The median cost of senior care services is the average cost you can expect to pay for these care types. Plenty of factors will determine the actual cost, and it’s important to understand how these factors may affect what you pay for senior care.
Each care type will have a general set of services, but different facilities offer higher or lower-end care that varies in price points. For example, some lower-end senior care will provide all the necessities for a senior to live a safe and comfortable lifestyle without any extra perks. A higher-end facility might offer benefits like larger rooms, modern design,gyms, pools, spas, and so on. These amenities in long-term senior care will cost more, and while they are not necessary for adequate care, they can provide a more leisurely long term stay.
Just as rent and healthcare vary from state to state, so will the cost of paying for senior care services. In addition, different parts of the state may have more or fewer senior care options, which could impact the overall cost to pay for senior care.
Senior care services have different tiers of service with different pricing options. You may have the option to take a standard accommodation or upgrade to a larger, modernized living space. These options will not determine the level of care, only the lifestyle you wish to experience at your senior care facility.
Paying for Long-Term Senior Care Services
If you’re nearing closer to needing senior care services, you’re likely wondering what your options are for payment. In general, there are two main options to pay for senior care: private, and public.
Private Pay for Senior Care
Private pay for senior care means paying out of pocket without government assistance.
Many seniors have funds saved up from retirement or personal investments that can be withdrawn for senior care payments. Some other private payment options include:
- Home Equity: Selling your home or renting it out can provide additional funds for senior care payments.
- Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages allow seniors aged 62+ to convert their home equity into payments for senior care services. These policies can be complex and differ widely, so be sure to speak to a financial expert.
- Life Insurance Policy: Life insurance can be used to pay for long-term senior care if you sell your policy or transfer the ownership to a family member. Speaking to your life insurance agent will help you understand payment options related to your policy and whether or not you can get coverage.
- Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is a popular option for financial aid. The cost of long-term care insurance is largely based on age, health status, and the benefits you are seeking. Those with complex health issues may not be approved, but for those who are it can provide support for a variety of senior care payments.
Public Pay for Senior Care
For those who can’t pay fully out of pocket, there are public assistance programs that can aid in paying for long-term senior care. Some of these options include:
- Medicare: Medicare assistance will apply to seniors aged 65+ and will help cover some costs associated with care including short-term rehabilitation, the first 100 days in a nursing facility under a qualified diagnosis, and some outpatient homecare.
- Medicaid: Medicaid will help cover some costs associated with long-term care such as homecare, bathing and personal assistance, rehabilitation, and hospice care. Coverage varies from state to state.
- Veterans Benefits: For disabled or aging veterans who were on active duty for at least 90 days, a percentage of your long-term senior care will be covered dependent on your household income.
Finding Senior Care within Your Cost Range
A simple way to find the monthly cost within an affordable range is to calculate the average monthly expenses for you or your loved one. Adding together rent, mortgage, car payment, food costs, activities, utilities, and other monthly payments will provide an average monthly spend. From there, calculate retirement, investment, and equity funds that could aid in monthly senior care costs. If family members intend to help with payments, add those funds to your monthly amount. Lastly, deduct any subsidized payments you may receive from insurance or government policies to calculate a monthly spend for senior care.
Once you have an estimated pay budget, researching different facilities and the amenities you can choose from will help determine the best long-term care that fits your needs and cost range. Most long-term care services have options to increase or decrease the monthly cost. Being open about what you can pay for senior care is the best approach.
Planning Your Long-Term Senior Care
Finding the right long-term senior care option is an important decision. Planning ahead and understanding the needs of you or your loved one, as well as what they can afford will ensure you are confident in the senior care you choose.