The costs for providing elder care is rising and the price tag is daunting. For example, the cost of care for 2015 as reported by Genworth (available at https://www.genworth.com/corporate/about-genworth/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html) show that the national median cost for assisted living is $3,600 a month and the national median daily rate for semi-private nursing home room is $220. These costs are a 2.86% and a 3.77% increase from 2014 respectfully. Though Medicare and Medicaid can cover some care expenses if the senior is eligible, many services are not covered and Americans pay out of pocket for care needs.
Planning and research is necessary to find the right services to address care needs to avoid overpaying for services. Assessment of the actual level of care the person needs will help determine if care in the home is appropriate or if a move from the home environment is necessary for safety. Assessment worksheets are available in the How to Help Aging Parents E-book available on this website. If a move to a facility is necessary, research your options including less expensive board and care homes. If home care is the appropriate, interview several home care providers for pricing. Explore programs that may be provided through churches or social service clubs in your community that may cover some needs such as grocery shopping.
Medicaid and the US Department of Veteran Affairs offer assistance programs, but only in certain situations. Medicare, which most people think of when considering help for the elderly, should be considered health insurance. Medicare will cover a short-term stay in a nursing home after a surgery, but it does not pay for custodial care, such as assisted living, long term care in a nursing home, home care, etc. Medicaid is a government assistance program that pays for long term nursing home care for elderly who can’t afford this service on their own. Eligibility for program is based on income and all existing assets have to be spent towards care first, this is referred to a “spend down”.
As covered in an earlier post, Veteran’s Benefits can also help offset cost, but eligibility is based on income and care needs. If you are exploring assisted living facilities, ask the admissions or sales counselor for information on the Veteran’s Benefits as many facilities will assist with the application for these benefits to see if the prospective resident is eligible for the program to help offset the cost of monthly fees.