The True Costs of Home Caregivers

Sep 11, 2012

costs of home care spreadsheetIt is not unusual for family members to worry about the costs of bringing in home caregivers, along with all the other concerns of dealing with eldercare.  It may be such a big worry that it keeps a family from seeking outside help, when assistance with activities like hygiene and bathing, medication management or senior transportation could really make a difference.

You have come to the right place if these issues concern you.  We offer information sheets on paying for home care, Medicare’s coverage of home healthcare and  caregiver checklists.  We also offer a lot of information about using long-term care insurance and our Aging Wisely care managers help families navigate various benefits programs.

One of the things that often surprises families as they gather more information about home care and senior care costs is how affordable home caregivers can be.  Most home healthcare agencies price care at an hourly rate, which provides clients the maximum flexibility, but can also make it a little hard to understand and compare costs.  Most of us tend to think in terms of weekly, monthly or yearly costs…for things like income and expenses such as mortgages, utilities, etc.  Because home care can be so tailored, the weekly, monthly and yearly costs can vary widely.

An example from a National Private Duty Homecare Association survey demonstrates the types of costs seniors can expect when hiring home caregivers: “Seniors who want to remain in their homes can often do so cost effectively with a few hours of care a week. For example, 20 hours of companionship home care a week costs approximately $1,500 a month or an average annual cost of $18,000”.  Compare that to the 2011 average rate for assisted living facilities across the country (MetLife Mature Market Institute Survey) of $3,477/month or $41,724/year.  And, the average daily rate for nursing home care (shared room) was $214 or $78,110/year.  Home care costs are the one long-term care costs that has stayed steady in the last few years of this nationwide survey of long-term care, while the others have risen.

Many families we work with are not even needing that level of care at this point, but simply looking for assistance a few times per week or with specific tasks to compliment other services or family care.  The beauty of home caregiver services is the flexibility to meet a client’s needs and budget as well as schedule and personal preferences.

Here is some advice and considerations when seeking out affordable home caregiver services:

  • Seek services early.  By using services early, a senior and family can prevent crises and additional costs from escalating.
  • Evaluate all costs of every option.  For facility care, are there additional fees you’ll be incurring?  For home care, don’t forget to factor in home upkeep costs.
  • Factor in opportunity costs.  For example, if a relative decides to quit a job to care for an elder family member, consider loss of income as well as retirement savings and future earning potential that might be sacrificed.  Obviously, this is not only a financial decision but a very personal one.  However, we hear a lot of stories from families who feel they should have thought through this decision more cautiously.  You may want to check out this NPR piece on the true costs of at-home caregiving for a thoughtful depiction of these issues.
  • Talk to a home care provider about getting a free home care assessment to better understand what careplan they would recommend and how it might fit your budget.  Work with a company that offers experienced senior care professionals who can suggest ways to tailor the careplan, offer options and help with things like long-term care insurance claims.

For more tips on budgeting and finding resources for senior care/home caregivers, grab a free copy of our budgeting and paying for long-term care, which offers a plan for creating a budget based on your needs and how to find the resources to fill those needs.  Or, for personal help…give our Senior Care Consultants a call today at 727-447-5845.

Want to help a senior loved one stay “home sweet home”?  We’re here to help!

Topics: Financial/Legal

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