How Do You Pay for Long-Term Care?
Aging Matters

Families have difficulty managing long-term care for aging parents and relatives, especially with limited funds. The top challenges include navigating health and long-term care options and finding ways to pay for the high costs. A small number of families have the means to afford the expense of in-home care, assisted living, or nursing homes.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid verifies that most citizens will need some form of help in their lifetime. And 40 percent will require a higher level of care like skilled nursing, which is the most costly. That's because it requires an extremely specialized staff of registered nurses, therapists, and social workers. Plus, a nursing home offers the highest level of attention and supervision. And since the average cost of the daily stay in one range from $212 to $240, the hefty fees add up. But don't worry, it's not the only option for senior care.

Costs of Senior Care

Here is a breakdown of the average cost of senior care:

  • Home care - the average hourly rate is $17 to $33 an hour, depending on where you live.
  • Assisted Living - the average monthly rate is $3,500.
  • Nursing Home - a private room on average is $240 a day.
  • Nursing Home - a shared room is $212 a day on average.

As an aging parent requires more help due to chronic illnesses and disabilities, the family is forced to learn about the options under pressure. The good news, families have several decent ones to choose, but the bad news, if you don't plan for it, the services become limited. Your financial resources are the cause.

Ways to Pay for Senior Care

So, how do you navigate the financial piece of senior care? Here's a guide to help you find ways to pay for it:

Out-of-pocket

Financial advisors recommend saving a few hundred thousand dollars, especially if you do not own a long-term care insurance policy. The cost of care depends on how much help a person needs. Self-funding includes retirement and pension plan income, investments, and Social Security benefits.

LTC Insurance

Long-term care policies differ by the length of time and the type of care you can get. It's designed to supplement the costs, not pay for all of it. Before buying one, learn the terms of the agreement and what it pays and for how long.

Reverse mortgage

A type of mortgage that allows a homeowner to withdraw the equity but it is contingent on the owner's age and value of the home. The loan payoff is due when a surviving spouse or partner moves out.

Home equity

A loan that uses the home as collateral. It is a conventional mortgage, and you have to pay it back with interest. The equity is not freed up like a reverse mortgage.

Medicare

A federal program that pays for hospital and health insurance for people over 65. It does not pay for long-term care only short-term care like after a hospital visit. It pays 100 percent of care in a skilled nursing home the first 20 days and only after a three-day hospital stay. It will pay for home health care with a doctor's prescription for a limited time.

Medicaid

A state and federal program that pays for select services and nursing home care for low-income citizens. It can pay for help at home and in the community. You must qualify for the program by having limited assets and income.



Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

Learn More



More on Financial Planning