At-home care for seniors is highly expensive. Therefore, long-term care facilities are often the most cost-effective option. However, this can vary widely based on factors such as insurance, geography, and the type of care necessary.
Over 80 million Americans will be 65 or older by 2040, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Urban Institute. Concurrently, there’s a transition occurring in the senior living sector, with more and more elderly people preferring in-home care to residential care as they become older.
Nevertheless, there are drawbacks to aging at home, particularly for seniors with health issues such as chronic problems, acute accidents or illnesses, limited mobility, and so on.
It can be difficult for people in these predicaments to determine whether to age in place, perhaps endangering their health or safety, or to give up their freedom and move to a community where help is available.
Caregiving at home can be a lifeline for seniors dealing with these sorts of difficulties. If you or an elderly loved one are considering aging in place, hiring a home care aide may ensure that you have the support you need to continue living safely and comfortably in your own home while retaining your freedom.
Seniors with varied degrees of mobility might benefit greatly from having care delivered in the comfort of their own home. The options for in-home care for seniors and their families are many.
What follows is a guide on home caregiving that covers topics such as the services provided by a home care aide, the many forms of home care, the costs involved, and the various ways in which financial aid can be obtained.
As the name implies, home care entails non-medical support and care given to the client in their own home. If home health services are involved, then this is where medical support & therapy can be provided. Personal care may involve anything from assisting with ADLs like bathing, transferring, and food preparation to providing transportation, companionship, and more.
A home care assistant may visit their client anywhere from once per week to seven days per week, depending on the person’s need.
Instead of relocating their loved ones to a residential care facility as their needs and skills evolve, many seniors and their families opt for home care.
Seniors can remain in their homes throughout their golden years with the help of home care and any required adaptations, including the installation of assistive equipment. Caregiving may be exhausting for family members. Therefore some choose to use home care services as a relief.
For Whom is Home Care Appropriate?
Home care might be a good option for seniors who value their independence but don’t want to move into an assisted living facility. In addition, patients who are a good fit for the following conditions may benefit from this form of treatment.
- Mobility-impaired seniors who require help getting in and around their homes.
- Seniors who are physically challenged and require assistance with routine chores.
- Individuals over the age of 65 who cannot drive but need to get to medical visits, stores, friends’ homes, and other destinations.
- Seniors who live alone might benefit from having a companion.
- Older people who struggle to do activities of daily living on their own, such as cooking, cleaning, and more.
- Services like cleaning and food shopping might be provided for seniors who need some help around the house.
- Seniors who are experiencing mild memory loss.
How Can I Tell Whether a Loved One Needs Care at Home?
There comes a time in the lives of many seniors when they can no longer provide for themselves independently. Many seniors and their families find comfort in the idea of home care since it may be utilized intermittently or for only a few hours each week by struggling people who do not require round-the-clock assistance.
It can be a good middle ground for seniors who need help but don’t want constant caregiving. In addition, it’s a fantastic alternative for older people who don’t want to leave their homes but require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) but who are averse to traditional assisted living facilities.
Below are several indicators that it might be time to consider in-home care, keeping in mind that every case is unique.
- Muscle weakness or weight loss
- mobility impairment
- Increased tendency to forget
- Declining standards of cleanliness
- failure to keep one’s house clean and in order
- Failure to drive or driving mishaps
- Loneliness or isolation
- Accidents, including slips and falls
Short-term home care may also be necessary for some seniors, such as when they are recouping from an illness or injury such as a stroke. As opposed to regular housekeeping or cooking services, home health care is the best option for the older person in these circumstances.
Types of Home Care
In-home care encompasses a wide variety of services, each of which is often provided by a particular type of caregiver. One’s health, capabilities, and occasionally financial situation will determine the care one requires.
Home care may take several forms, the most frequent of which are companion care services, personal care help, and home health care. Remember that the client may switch from one home care method to another as their needs evolve.
1. Companion Care Services
Independent seniors who do not require substantial help with their day-to-day tasks might benefit greatly from companion care services. Many people who may benefit from having a constant companion do not have somebody to spend their days with since they have to rely on themselves for everything. The companionship provided by the assistance is invaluable.
When providing companion care, a home health aide may spend time with the client, engage them in conversation, read to them, join them in activities they enjoy, like going for walks or playing board games, and give oversight.
Sometimes, companions for the elderly may drive their clients to appointments and help them keep track of their medications. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that most CCAs aren’t trained to handle any medicine or give any medical treatment (depends on the company involved).
People with mild memory loss who do not yet require extensive support but who might not be ready to be left alone may benefit from companion care services. These customers may be staying with family members who would want to be there more often but are unable to do so owing to their own schedules.
2. Personal Care Assistance
Seniors requiring consistent support with ADLs might benefit from personal care assistance. Help with daily activities like washing and toileting, food shopping, and preventing falls through mobility support are just some of the tasks that personal care aides may perform.
Medication management is the only form of medical treatment that these helpers may legally give. In many ways, the care provided in the home is analogous to that offered in assisted living facilities.
Accordingly, PCAs may undeniably aid in making the client’s life simpler and safer. However, it is not suitable for those who have ongoing medical issues.
Personal care help is sought by many families offering caregiving services for a loved one so that they may focus on providing the best possible care for their loved one. For example, a home care helper could be hired by a woman to assist her husband in transferring between chairs and the bed since she cannot safely do it herself.
If a family caregiver has to go out of town or is going to be gone all day, a personal care helper can fill in for them and provide much-needed care and companionship.
3. Home Health Care
Compared to other forms of in-home care, home health care is distinguished because its aides are trained and licensed to administer actual medical treatment.
Home health care is usually advised by a doctor and may require a doctor’s written order to get the services reimbursed by insurance. If your loved one is experiencing a decline related to performing their daily tasks, ask the doctor for an order for home health therapy and/or nursing services. Depending on the area of decline, the doctor may recommend physical, occupational, speech therapy, nursing, and/or home health aid.
A home healthcare provider may be a great resource for seniors who need regular medical services like injections or infusions (depending on the agency) but find it difficult to leave the house. Short-term or as-needed home health care is another option for certain people who require it, such as those who are recovering from an injury or surgery.
Home health aides, as opposed to companion care aides and personal care help, are required to have further training and qualification, like a nursing certificate, before they can provide these services. Only those who have earned the appropriate credentials can provide competent nursing services to patients in their own homes.
Cost of Home Care
The average monthly cost of home care in the United States is $4,957, as reported by Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey. The monthly cost of home health care averages $5,148, greater than that of an institutional setting.
Home health care is less expensive than residential, skilled nursing care, which averages $7,908 per month for a shared room and $9,034 per month for a private one because it can include nurse services. Keep in mind, this will also differ based on insurance coverage options.
Remember that the data presented above is an average for the whole country. Therefore, the prices indicated here might be substantially lower or much more than the actual expenses of providing care in the comfort of your own home, depending on where you live.
How to Pay For In-Home Care?
How To Pay For In-home Care?
Whether provided in the home or a residential community, the cost of care can burden many older people and their families. The good news is that there are resources to help pay for the care provided in the comfort of a home.
What follows is an exploration of some potential solutions that may help alleviate some of your financial stress.
1. Private Insurance
An individual’s private insurance policy may cover a portion of the expense of providing care at home. People who have long-term care insurance often have this provision, as most health insurance plans do not pay for long-term care services such as home care.
In-home care is only one of the many forms of elder care that can be covered by long-term care insurance. However, details like the beneficiary’s age at policy initiation and the policy’s exclusions might make a big difference in terms of coverage.
It is common for long-term care insurance to begin paying benefits once the insured person requires help with two or more ADLs. Because of this, even if an individual has long-term care insurance, they may not be compensated for the cost of companion care.
You should know that it can be very difficult to buy long-term care insurance if you need assistance.
2. Aid And Attendance Benefit
The Aid and Attendance benefit can be used to assist in paying for in-home care for qualified veterans and their spouses. In some cases, veterans who are already receiving a VA pension may be eligible to receive an extra monthly payment known as the Aid and Attendance benefit.
It is not the intent of these monies to pay for in-home care but rather to provide a steady stream of income for veterans who require assistance in meeting their caregiving responsibilities.
Veterans receiving a VA pension who also fulfill at least one of four additional qualifying conditions are eligible for Aid and Attendance. Those in need of in-home care are likely to meet at least one of these four requirements, as this includes having to have help with ADLs.
In order to qualify for Aid and Attendance, some veterans might need a note from their doctor declaring they require help with daily activities.
A person’s eligibility for assistance is determined by a number of variables, including the number of people living in the family and the household’s total income.
3. Reverse Mortgage Loans
Reverse mortgages are available to those aged 62 and over and can be used to pay for medical costs, home repairs, travel, and more. These loans are effectively a cash advance on the equity in one’s house since a portion of the home’s worth is converted to cash.
There is often no tax to pay on the proceeds of a reverse mortgage. To avoid having to sell their house too soon, this option can provide seniors with a source of liquid income to go toward the cost of long-term care. This will be especially helpful for people who make use of home health care services.
Reverse mortgages come in various forms. Only the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, however, has government insurance. If you are the final borrower and either you or your spouse no longer live in the property, you will need to repay the reverse mortgage.
The loan will incur interest charges, so keep that in mind. And if you take out a mortgage or equity loan against your property, you may forget about leaving it or any of the proceeds to your heirs when you die.
However, if the borrower knows the conditions mentioned above, a reverse mortgage might be a fantastic option to acquire liquid funds.
4. Life Insurance
Although life insurance is typically used to provide for a policyholder’s dependents after their death, it can also be used to cover long-term care costs, such as in-home assistance.
Hybrid life insurance policies may include coverage for long-term care expenses, albeit the types of services that are covered may differ from policy to policy.
Many people need to realize that they may convert their traditional life insurance plans into a cash payout. In addition, for various reasons, policyholders may be allowed to hand over their insurance coverage to their insurer.
In addition, they can choose to sell their coverage to a third party. Both scenarios have a financial value that is likely to be much lower than the death benefit.
This is why it’s important to have a family conversation about whether or not cashing out a life insurance policy is the best option. But unfortunately, life insurance policies are often left alone.
The insurance company’s restrictions may prevent certain policyholders from surrendering or selling their coverage.
5. An Annuity
Annuities are a way for retirees to convert their savings or pension into a guaranteed income source that continues until death or for a specified period. The funds can initially be used to cover the costs of in-home caregiving and then transferred to a fund designated for assisted living if those options prove inadequate.
An annuity is a hybrid between a savings account and a life insurance policy, in which the principal is invested at a set or variable interest rate, and withdrawals begin after a certain period.
Unscrupulous agents preying on older people have contributed to the negative public perception of annuities. So, point them to a reliable financial institution and advisor to discuss purchasing an annuity.
When qualifying for Medicaid, the amount invested in an annuity is not included against the applicant’s asset limit. The payouts from the annuity are reported to the IRS, but the initial investment is not.
Medicare’s coverage for home health care is difficult to get and has severe restrictions once received. However, in the event of an unexpected medical emergency or a decline in a loved one’s condition, it can be a lifesaver.
When a family member leaves a hospital or rehabilitation center, Medicare often begins paying for their medical expenses. If you need professional nursing care and therapy for a set amount of time, you can get it via a Medicare-approved organization.
The best part is that qualifying for Medicare is much less of a hassle than it formerly was, and the process should become much less demanding sometime in 2013.
Medicaid is a federal-state partnership that offers medical assistance to low-income and asset-constrained seniors. Since each state is responsible for its benefits administration, policies and offerings might vary widely.
In some states, Medicaid will pay for in-home medical care and companionship for seniors who qualify. In addition, by obtaining waivers, some states have been able to give Medicaid services to people who would not have qualified for coverage without them.
Health and non-medical home care services are covered under the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver program. In addition, Medicaid’s “Cash and Counseling” programs provide financial support to carers in various states.
8. Veteran Benefits
Qualifying veterans can get financial assistance to cover the cost of caregiving at home via a variety of VA programs. Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, Veteran Directed Care, and Aid and Attendance Pensions are among the possibilities. However, the prerequisites for and advantages of each program vary widely.
As you can see, in-home care for seniors depends on a number of factors; thus, the costs are not fixed. But the good news is you have many resources to pay for them. Therefore, it’s usually wise to compare prices and services before settling on a home care provider. If you do so, you can select the ideal care for your family member.