The vast majority of seniors want to live in their own homes, or “age in place,” for as long as possible. However, how long is it feasible, given the degree of care and support a senior may require and the costs associated with aging in place?
Chandelle Martel, MSW, LCSW, CASWCM, a Certified Geriatric Care Manager and Manager of Bethesda’s Care Management Program, provides some thoughts to consider about the costs of staying at home and how aging in place can save money on senior care in some instances.
“Free” Senior Care While Aging in Place
One consideration — where the aging in place is going to occur. Staying in a paid-off, family home is a great option for seniors who need minimal care.
“If you have lived in your own home for many years, you may no longer have a mortgage payment,” says Chandelle. “If the care and support required is minimal, family caregivers, neighbors or friends can volunteer to help.”
Understanding Potential Costs
However, aging in place can result in costs you may not think of initially. Some seniors are no longer able to maintain their homes, however, maintenance costs don’t have to cost a fortune.
Neighbors can be paid to mow the lawn and shovel the driveway. A friend’s teenager can run some errands for you for a small fee. In return for room and board, a relative can move in with you to provide support and supervision.
Is Aging in Place Financially Worth It?
As the senior’s care needs increase, so do costs. Oftentimes, there comes a point when a senior’s family is not able to provide all of the support necessary. “If your volunteer support group can’t supply all your needs, you are going to require professional services,” Chandelle says.
Whoever seniors choose for senior care and professional services, Chandelle notes that these services do not operate like relatives and friends. “If you just need help getting dressed in the morning or taking a shower, hired help from a private duty service will come out and help. However, many charge a minimum of four hours at around $22 per hour, which totals almost $100 for the visit,” says Chandelle.
If eventually, you need care around the clock, it could cost more than $500 per day.
“Many people do not have the financial resources to afford that kind of care,” says Chandelle.
Age in Place Cost-Effectively
Traditionally, seniors consider “aging in place” to mean staying in their family home. However, if we broaden the definition of “aging in place” to include an independent or assisted living community, seniors can save money through consolidated services tailored to their needs.
Senior living communities offer personal apartments, in which seniors can make their home. Among the cost-savings benefits of living in a senior living community:
- No paying for home upkeep
- No home maintenance requirements to attend to
- No taxes on your home
- No insurance payments on your home
- No utility payments
Cost of care in one of the communities during the daytime runs between $5 and $45. (Note: This does not include rental costs.) Compare this to the nearly $100 private duty cost for a four-hour visit at a family home. For 24-hour care in a senior living community, the cost would be around $260 compared to the $500 cost for care in the senior’s original home.
Chandelle explains that cost advantages are gained because aides are helping many people in the building, so costs are shared. “There is no four-hour minimum. We can even do 15-minute incremental services,” Chandelle says.
Plus, at a senior living community, the senior’s care needs are continually evaluated, to ensure that the proper level of care is always received.
Making Your Decision
Decisions about aging are complex: How do you make adjustments to the cost of care plans as needs change? What is the ability to meet costs now and in the future?
The insurance and other potential benefits for seniors and their caregivers facing these questions are equally complex. Chandelle strongly suggests consulting a Geriatric Care Manager, like herself, to sort through all the details and make a plan.
Quality Care Saves Money
As a result of the Bethesda Care Management program, residents of Bethesda independent living communities stay in their apartments an average of three additional years after Care Management is contacted for help. Chandelle has yet to find a care management program in any long-term care organization that provides this much additional independent living time.
Bethesda’s Care Management and Senior Support Solutions programs offer customized support for seniors and their families in St. Louis, whether you live in your family home or at a senior living community. To learn more about our services that help you age in place, contact Bethesda.