While many Americans still think of nursing homes as a primary provider of care for frail elders, few older Americans ever require nursing home placement.
Nursing homes are the most intensive form of longterm care and are sometimes the alternative best suited for those who need round-the-clock medical supervision. But whether that level of care is provided in a nursing home, or at home by home care aides, it comes with a steep price tag. In last month’s issue of the Caregiver Newsletter, we discussed the high cost of home care which typically runs between $16.00 and $24.00 per hour depending on what region of the country you live in. Th e cost of care in a nursing home also varies in diff erent regions of the U.S. ranging from $75,000 to $140,000 per year, with the most expensive being on the east and west coasts Fortunately, most seniors won’t require extended nursing home care. Only 5 percent will need fi ve years or more in a nursing home. Less intensive alternatives include home-care services that off er help with meals and household chores, assisted living facilities, and in some states, board and care homes provide a less intensive level of care, but are usually less costly per month than a nursing home. Th ere are also such community-based alternatives as adult day care programs, which provide care, recreation and meals for a few hours per day, to full day programs 5 days per week. In some states, the services are subsidized by state funding and can be paid for on a sliding scale based on the income of the elder. Th e average rate for adult day care last year was $70 a day, or about $18,000 annually. Licensing and certifi cation requirements vary by state and county. More than 5,000 centers run programs across the country and can be found through groups like the National Adult Day Services Association. Th e group recommends visiting potential centers and going through a checklist of options and amenities, including door-to-door transportation and accessibility. For more, visit: www.nadsa.org/consumers/site-visitchecklist. About 10 million seniors currently rely on others for daily care, such as help getting dressed, preparing meals or taking medication, according to a recent article by Matthew Perrone, of the Washington Post. That number will only increase as more of the nation’s 78 million baby boomers enter old age. Nearly 7 in 10 people will need some form of long-term care after turning 65, according to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute. “Nobody wants to go to a nursing home; it’s the last resort,” said James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging. “People want to stay in their own home, and if they can’t, they want to go to a place where they can get assistance but that still feels homelike.” “Th e issue is that these are long-term costs and almost all of it comes out of pocket,” said John Migliaccio, director of research for Metlife’s Mature Market Institute. “It’s important to have some idea about what it will cost dad, mom or your husband to get the care they need.”