There are many types of assistance available for senior citizens (in and out of the home), and it can be difficult to know which type of care is appropriate for yourself or a loved one. It can be especially difficult to discern how the costs of each compare to one another, and how this information can help your family make the right decision. Thankfully, there is hard data available; the 2014 Genworth Cost of Care study that was recently published offers a good look at different types of elderly care, and what the median costs are.
Different Types of Elderly Care
But first, let’s take a look at the different types of elderly care available that were covered in the study. It should be noted that many of these services also extend to Special Needs Care (or middle-aged adults who otherwise need care), but in this blog we’ll be discussing the options specifically for elderly care. The following are in order of least to most involvement in the level of care required...
Adult Day Care: ADCs are exactly what they sound like - a place for elderly adults to get together for mental and social stimulation during working hours. This also offers caregivers a brief respite from caretaking duties, which is beneficial to both parties. The primary purpose of an adult day care is not custodial or medical care, but providing an engaging, healthy environment for seniors to get together. According to the Genworth study, the median rate is $65 per day.
Homemaking Services: Homemaking services are when someone assists an elderly patient with “hands off” tasks like meal preparation, running errands, and housekeeping. This type of service is appropriate for someone who is still capable of living in their own home, but needs help with tasks in order to maintain as much of their independence as possible. The Cost of Care study found that the median rate for homemaking services was $19/hour.
In Home Care / Home Health Aides: In Home Care is similar to homemaking services, but adds custodial (“hands on”) care as well. These typically include activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and more. Medication reminders, transportation to and from appointments, and safety in the home are all included as well. The median rate for Home Health Aides was $20/hour according to Genworth.
Assisted Living Facilities: These are residential centers or communities where seniors have access to custodial care. People in assisted living facilities do not require the same level of care as those in nursing homes, but generally need help with ADLs and other tasks. Assisted living facilities are differentiated from In Home Care because the client is no longer living in their own home, but the level of care is roughly the same. The median monthly rate was $3,500 in 2014.
Nursing Home: Nursing homes typically offer the highest level of care outside of a hospital setting. Clients live at the facility full-time, in a variety of settings (private versus shared rooms and bathrooms, etc). Nursing homes are differentiated from other types of senior care in that medical personnel and equipment are on premises, usually available 24 hours a day, and this is in addition to receiving custodial care. While most moves to a nursing home are permanent, they can also be appropriate for short-term, rehabilitative stays. According to Genworth, the median daily rate was $212 for a shared room and $240 for a private room.
How Do the Costs of Senior Care Compare to Each Other?
As you may have noticed above, the costs associated with alternative types of elderly care were all represented differently (by hour, day, or month). Let’s break them down a little to get a better comparison; we’ll assume 8 hours of care, 7 days per week, and 30 days per month so there’s an apples-to-apples comparison. It’s not a perfect solution, since nursing homes and some assisted living facilities offer round-the-clock care, but based on the rates found in the Genworth study, the following rates will provide a good ballpark figure. A month of Homemaking Services costs approximately $4,500, although it’s unlikely that someone would need that much hands-off care. A month of In Home Care would cost a couple hundred more per month, but more services and experience are part of the deal. A month at an Assisted Living Facility might cost as low as $3,500 (based on the Genworth numbers), but let’s look a little more in-depth at realistic scenarios.
Is In Home Care really that much more expensive than Assisted Living?
A brief glance at the numbers above shows that a month of assisted living is approximately $1000 - $1300 cheaper than In Home Care or homemaking services. But what does that really mean, and what intangible considerations are absent from these prices?
Remember, the numbers that we arrived at in the chart above were based on 8 hours per day, for 7 days per week. It’s entirely possible that someone might not need this much care. For instance, if a senior can remain in their home and rely on partial help from family caretakers, this will drastically reduce the costs of In Home Care. Let’s suppose that someone only needs 5 hours of senior care per day; this changes the monthly rate to $3000, which is now $500 cheaper than an assisted living facility. Or perhaps a loved one needs assistance 8 hours a day, but family and friends can step in on the weekends. At five days per week, the monthly rate for In Home Care (based on national averages) is roughly $3200...which is still more affordable than an assisted living facility.
What about the intangible aspects of In Home Care versus Assisted Living?
The numbers above reflect only the financial costs of care; there are a lot of intangible considerations as well. The ability for someone to remain in their home during their twilight years can be an incredible boon for emotional, physical, and psychological health. Many seniors would be very happy to remain in a place where they are comfortable, have many fond memories, and perhaps even raised their children. In fact, there is a growing movement for elderly citizens to stay at home as long as possible, based on the idea that they will thrive in a familiar, safe setting. Of course, the desire and ability to remain at home is dependent upon each family’s situation, but In Home Care is a wonderful way to enable a win-win situation for everyone.
Regardless of which path is right for your family, it’s good to know that there are many options available. Hopefully you found the information in this blog helpful! To learn more about In Home Care options, please visit our Services page.