Caregiving: Significant Costs to Care for Our Loved Ones

senior care value

When families visit us, cost of care is often a big concern. Objectively, families need to be concerned. According to the Genworth’s 2016 Annual Long Term Care Cost Study (https://www.genworth.com/about-us/industry- expertise/cost-of- care.html#), costs for professional care are substantial. The Genworth study provides a decent glimpse to the cost of care nationally and in specific states and metropolitan areas. In a given market, these rates can be very misleading because they are averages.

In Atlanta, the Genworth study estimates that the monthly cost of care is approximately $3,253 for assisted living. This is an average of the monthly costs for new, fancy, large assisted living communities as well as the pricing for a small personal care home serving low income individuals.

Let’s look at what you can expect to pay for professional services from Adult Day Health Care, Home Health Care, Assisted Living, and a Nursing Home. The costs for care are based on what we’re seeing on the Northside of Atlanta in communities such as Alpharetta, Duluth, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Marietta, Suwanee, and Vinings.

Nursing Homes: Monthly Care: $7,000. The nursing home is going to be very expensive for private payment and is best suited for individuals who need 24-hour skilled nursing care. Medicare may pay for most of first 21 days depending on the reason for admittance, but Medicare payments shrink substantially and quickly until all care is paid for privately. The cost of care may increase depending on what additional services are required in addition to the room fee.

Assisted Living: Monthly Care: $4,000-$6,000. Expect to pay at least this much in a newer and larger community. Many communities have a base rate that they advertise, but quickly add additional costs for additional services such as medication assistance and personal care. Should an individual come to need a significant amount of care, the community may require that the individual also receive a significant amount of home care.

Home Care: Monthly Care: $3,689.40. The Genworth study assumes 44 hours of care a week, which is what would be needed if the primary caregiver needs to work. Most private agencies will charge approximately $19-21 per hour for care (We assume 19.50 per hour for our calculation). Some are a bit more expensive, and some a bit less (but be careful if the expense is too much less). Many companies have an 8 hour a week minimum, so depending on your loved one’s needs, expect to pay between $670.80 and $14,086.80 should an individual require 24-hour care, 7 days per week.

Adult Day: Monthly Care: $1,596. Adult Day Care provides the best value for caregivers. Most centers will charge for their services based on the amount of care that is provided and for a certain number of days. Many centers will require a minimum number of days of service per month, with 8 days being a common requirement. Depending on the needs and wants of the senior receiving care, expect to pay between $552 and $1,600 per month.

Most families will need to pay privately for these services. Long-term Insurance and some life insurance policies will often cover these expenses as well. The Genworth study is clear: the toll on caregivers is high. These additional burdens include an average loss of 7 hours per week for work, an average of $10,000 for out-of- pocket caregiving expenses, premature retirements, and health pressures.

It gets worse. Caregiving is normally a multi-year experience. For an individual with Alzheimer’s Disease, the length of the disease is typically about 20 years. The initial diagnosis is often made about 10 years in because it is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose before then.

Loved ones with the disease will need special attention for close to 5-10 years before they die of Alzheimer’s Disease or something else. For an individual moving into assisted living with a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis, total expected expenses could easily range between $200,000 and $600,000.

For some families, these expenses can be easily absorbed with a loved one’s savings, income, life insurance policies, long-term care insurance policies, and help from other well-to- do family members. Most families will find these costs to be significant and challenging; especially, if they have other family responsibilities like paying for college involved.

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