Helping Families Understand the True Cost of Aging
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
It’s no secret that the trend in the decades to come is that there will be fewer working people to support the aging population. By 2035, the U.S. Census Bureau expects that, for the first time in U.S. history, older adults will outnumber children.
Needs of the Aging Population
The aging population wants security, but fears the loss of independence, especially as they need to increasingly rely on others as they lose the ability to do things themselves.
A 2018 AARP survey found that 3 out of 4 seniors aged 50 and older want to stay living in their homes and communities, which is part of what makes home care so attractive.
Challenges of the Aging Population
Home care can also address challenges that seniors commonly encounter, including elder abuse, depression, a lack of social support, and cognitive problems.
A 2019 report says that elder abuse rates are increasing with the rise in the aging population. Interestingly, the report found that the rate is growing among men in particular:
Between 2002 and 2016, the rate of assaults on men 60 and older jumped by 75 percent.
Between 2007 and 2016, the rate of assaults on women rose by 35 percent.
It’s troubling, but experts also indicate that elder abuse is often instigated by caregivers (most of whom are family members) who feel stressed out by the demands of their role.
Depression in your clients is often caused by a loss of social support due to the passing of a spouse or sibling, retirement, or the need to relocate from their hometown. It’s easy for symptoms of depression to get lost in all of these changes in circumstance, and they may also go unnoticed as your clients’ lives slow down.
Loss of Social Support Systems
Scientific studies have found that social isolation and loneliness leave people at risk for an array of physical and mental conditions, including heart disease, cognitive decline, and death. The elderly segment of the population who often find themselves unexpectedly alone are at an even higher risk.
Dementia steadily rises with age:
Among those 65 and older, 10 percent have dementia.
When seniors hit age 85 and older, this number jumps to 50 percent.
Of those that are 90 and older, 80 percent have dementia.
Cognitive problems may hit your clients’ sense of independence hard. For instance, their driver’s license may be revoked, and they may feel lost when it comes to finding a replacement for their transportation.
At Kure Home Health (KHH), we are a local home care company that has an expert Care Team comprised of a Client Care Manager and other aging professionals that know how to help seniors and their families navigate these challenges.
How to Finance Long-Term Care
Financing long-term care is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It’s a good idea to research the available plans and insurance. Depending on the amount of care needed at home on a monthly basis, it’s possible that home care could be a more cost effective option than moving into an independent living, assisted living, or long-term care community. With the support of Kure Home Health, seniors can live out their best lives at home, surrounded by their memories and personal possessions.
Your clients may need to pay for care from personal savings, a pension, other retirement funds, stocks, and bonds. Home-based care is often paid for with these personal funds.
Long-Term Care Insurance
There is a wealth of choice when it comes to buying long-term care insurance; plans may give your clients the choice to buy nursing-home-only coverage or coverage that includes home care, home health care, and community care. Your client will need to thoroughly go over the type of coverage an insurance policy offers because policies vary. Buying insurance when your clients are relatively young is the best way to keep costs down and have the best chance at qualifying for insurance.
It’s good to be aware that there are some things that Medicare covers. Medicare is a federal insurance program that provides health care coverage if you are 65 or older or under 65 and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance.
Medicare covers events like hospitalizations (after you’ve paid the deductible), but NOT in-home custodial care
Medicare covers doctor’s visits, but NOT 20 percent or more of MD bills
Medicare covers medications through Part D, but NOT all medications
It does not cover any part of the cost of paying for assisted living arrangements, but it does cover hospice care in the last six months of life, and short stays in a nursing home when you’re getting care for a hospital-related medical condition.
In most states, Medicaid, a federal and state program for low-income people and families, will cover some of the costs of living in an assisted living facility for those who qualify.
Veterans Affairs Benefits
Sometimes, benefits from Veterans Affairs will cover home care medical expenses.
Home Care vs. Community-Based Care
As we mentioned before, most seniors would prefer to continue living in their homes or within their communities, but there comes a time when it’s important for your clients to weigh the pros and cons of living at home versus living in a community. Thinking about this while your clients still have their mental faculties intact and do not need care immediately is the best time to have this type of discussion.
There is a range of cost options available to your client, should they choose to go with home care.
According to the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey:
Home care services are generally $48,048/year; home health care aides run $50,336/year
Adult day health care costs $18,720/year
Staying at home provides seniors with a feeling of comfort, which may be additionally beneficial to them if they are encountering any signs of cognitive decline.
On the other hand, your clients may have some apprehensions about the social isolation and loneliness that they will be susceptible to while living at home, or be concerned that, when an emergency arises, there may not be anyone around to help him or her when it counts.
Your client can still balance out some of the cons associated with this method of care - for instance, to address safety concerns, you can install bars and assistive devices. If your client is worried about their chances to socialize, a home care professional can keep them company or locate social programs that work for them.
As with home care, there are also a range of community-based care options available to your client at widely varying costs:
Assisted living facility costs generally come in at around $48,000/year.
A semi-private room in a nursing home runs around $89,297/year.
A private room in a nursing home goes for about $100,375/year.
Depending on care needs, there are advantages to moving into a community. For one, they can provide access to onsite care around-the-clock, so your clients are assured help in an emergency situation. They can also meet the greater health and safety needs of their clients. A community setting also gives seniors ample opportunities for socialization. One of the perks of community-based care is that more services and opportunities for coordinated care come with living in a facility - that can include care from psychologists, physicians, or musical therapists.
What to Look for in a Professional Caregiver
If your client is looking at hiring an individual to provide home care, they should start with a background check, including at least three references. Further, they should look into their job history and caregiving-related training. Lastly, they should conduct an interview with them, and take them to the home they’ll be working in to see how the interaction goes.
Professionalism speaks volumes here.
In choosing a good community, the National Institute on Aging suggests that your client think about what they want and what’s important to them.
A spiritual connection
Somewhere that’s close to family and friends
Your client can also ask relatives, social workers, and religious groups about the places they would recommend, or call communities to get an idea of costs. Paying a couple of visits to the community itself is worthwhile, too.
The aging population values security and independence. Growing older comes with its own set of challenges. Whether your client decides to go with home care or community-based care, it’s important to survey their range of options for financing home care, home care, or community-based care. Your clients’ clear preference is likely to stay in the home they know and love, but it’s important for them to vet their options and determine what the best solution is.
At KHH, we offer unparalleled care in the place where most seniors want to stay: at home.
Our Balanced Care Method acknowledges the connections between diet, exercise, mentaengagement, and social relations to cater to the unique challenges your clients may face.
Author: Ashley Minroe