By Kathy Cooper
Even though many of our clients are not yet in need of extra care, a big question on their minds is how they will pay for care. Most want to be cared for at home. No one wants to go into a nursing home! Most of their children are appalled at the idea of sending their parent to a nursing home. A recent article in Forbes talks about how we often underestimate how much care our aging parents may need and how much it costs to care for them at home.
First, we need to consider how much help is required. The amount of care and therefore the cost of care will depend on the number of activities of daily living (there are called ADLs and include bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, walking and transfer from bed to chair) for which Mom requires assistance. If Mom is over 85 and has problems with three or more ADLs, she will need an average of 9 hours of assistance per day – every day! If Mom also has dementia, the level of care goes up to 14 hours of care each day.
Next, we need to consider who will care for Mom. Family caregivers are the main source of informal care, but that is not always possible. If you are living in another city or you have a job that you must keep, it is unlikely this approach will be feasible. Unlicensed home care workers are often called in for basic care. The national average, according to a 2012 Met Life Study is $20 per hour.
Back to our example of Mom who is over 85, has dementia and requires assistance with three or more ADLs, the cost for long term care would average $102,200 per year. The Forbes article rightly suggests that it is unlikely Mom will be able to afford this on her own, so what can you do? If you are lucky enough to plan ahead because Mom is still doing well, get moving on a plan for her future. Consider contacting an elder law attorney to determine the government or veteran’s benefits that may be available to help pay for care at home, in assisted living and in a nursing home. Even if Mom needs help right now, even if Mom is in a nursing home, you may have options to obtain benefits that can help with the cost of care.
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