Understanding the Cost of Long-Term Care

Seven out of every ten seniors will need long-term care at some point during their lifetime. What does that mean in terms of cost? And is it more economical to opt for care at home, versus care at a senior living community? It’s a debate that can keep you up at night. But understanding what is included in the cost of long-term care can help you reach the decision that works best for your family.

What is long-term care?

According to The National Institute on Aging, the most common type of long-term care is personal care—help with everyday activities, also called “activities of daily living.” People often need long-term care when they have a serious, ongoing condition or disability, such as following a heart attack or stroke. However, long-term care is most often needed as a person ages, grows more frail, or as an illness worsens.

The cost of providing long-term care at home

It can be tempting to assume that providing 24-hour care and assistance for a loved one at home would cost less than it would at a senior living community. In fact, four out of five adults underestimate the costs of home healthcare, with the average American underestimating the cost by almost 50 percent according to the Genworth Long Term Care/Caregiving Online Survey. This is most likely due to the fact that providing this level of care involves more than most people may realize. 

For example, a person receiving long-term care may need 24-hour assistance with:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Using the toilet
  • Transferring (moving from one position to another, such as from a chair to a bed)
  • Incontinence
  • Eating and drinking

And these are just the most basic needs. Caring for someone at home also means: 

  • Keeping the home clean and maintained
  • Making sure food and supplies are available
  • Supervising medications
  • Watching over bills, repairs, and money matters
  • Taking care of a pet
  • Staying in communication with family members
  • Taking the person to a physician or hospital when needed

Coming up with an average cost of providing long-term care at home is not easy, as numbers can vary due to location, type of care, and length of time. But here are some average figures provided by Genworth.

Homemaker services$21$15,120
Home health aide services$22$15,840
CNA (medical) services$11$7,920
LPN (medical) services$20$14,400
RN (medical) services$27$19,440

And the cost of long-term care at home is rising. Genworth research offers the following reasons for the increases:

• Low unemployment 

• Wage pressures 

• Regulatory changes 

• Labor shortages 

• Sicker patients 

• Employee retention challenges 

When considering the cost of long-term care at home, it’s important to remember that as well as the financial aspects, there is also the around-the-clock commitment required to keep a person as safe and healthy as possible. Physical and emotional stress, difficulties juggling work schedules and a loved one’s needs, trying to reschedule assistance when an attendant does not show up, and more—these factors can take a huge emotional toll. It is estimated that 80% of home care comes from unpaid caregivers.

The cost of long-term care in senior living

Senior living communities offer personal care and assistance in assisted living and memory care.  

• Assisted living provides housing, on-site care and support with activities of daily living while helping residents maintain their independence and enjoy a purposeful life. Personalized care includes assistance with bathing, dressing, and medication. Features include 24-hour access to care, transportation, housekeeping and other amenities. 

Average monthly cost—private, one-bedroom: $4,000 

• Memory care is specifically designed to nurture those with a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, with 24-hour supervised care. Senior living communities that offer memory care do so with specially trained team members that provide individualized support in a safe environment and provide opportunities for an older adult to find purpose and joy.

Average monthly cost: $5,000  

Long-term care in a senior living community offers the priceless benefit of knowing a loved one is in an environment designed for maximum safety and comfort. Team members are available 24/7 and personalized care is on-site when needed. When comparing the cost of long-term care at home versus in a senior living community, keep in mind how important the enriching opportunities for stimulation and socializing are for an older adult in need of care. 

Welcoming and nurturing your loved ones. It’s a new day in senior living! At New Perspective, we offer affordable and inspiring choices for all levels of care. Download our free Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing. We invite you to learn more. Contact us today.