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Balancing Home Care vs. Assisted Living for the Elderly

With the number of seniors growing, and life expectancy on the rise, many families are weighing the difference between home care and some kind of assisted living for the elderly. Financial concerns always play a role in the debate. Other factors include the stress associated with caring for the elderly and the quality care they will receive.

Changing Norms

The nature and importance of long-term elder care has evolved in recent decades. In the past elder care was almost entirely done by families, as adult children rarely lived far from home and lifestyles allowed more flexibility for helping an ailing relative. Back then, nursing homes were almost unheard of.

That has all changed. Life expectancy has risen from the mid 50s to the late 70s in a short period of time with no sign of slowing down.

In 2012, with life expectancy at nearly 79 years of age, and with those who are 65 or older making up 20% of the population, many families now have three generations living under the same roof. However,
many seniors will require some assistance with their care as they continue to age; and the services they utilize will vary from home care, assisted living, or nursing home placement.

Elder Care Options
Most Baby Boomers have expressed their desire to remain at home, not only because of nursing home abuse stories but also because of their attachment to grandchildren, other family members, or even pets.
However, caring for the elderly often involves a considerable amount of time, expertise, and expense.
The elderly often need help with eating and grooming, physical therapy, and medical care. They may also need quiet time away from noisy teenagers, have recreational needs, or special care ranging from insulin shots, wearing diapers and feeding.

Fortunately, professional home care is available. Medical personnel can come to your home with an order from a doctor, including nurses, physical therapist, speech therapists, and medical social workers. If your doctor has ruled out the need for medical home care, but you still need some help, non-medical home care, often referred to as companion services, is available.

In some cases, a form of assisted living may be the best answer. Some assisted living facilities provide more hands-off support while skilled nursing facilities (traditional nursing homes) offer advanced care.
Expense is always a concern with these options.

Nursing homes can range from $100-$400 per day, and assisted living centers can range from $800 a month to as much as $5,000 a month. On top of that, these charges may not include the costs for therapy,
rehabilitation or medications. It is important when considering assisted living centers that you explore the costs that may not be included in the level of service you purchase when admitted to the center. Assisted living centers that provide specialized care for dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example, have experienced a 15% increase in rates above and beyond the average costs of residents who do not require that level of service.

So how do you pay for this care?

There are no easy answers. Long-term care insurance is a great option, but it must be purchased ahead of time. Medicaid provides long-term care support, but families are required to spend-down assets to qualify. The complexity of the issues makes it important in our area to seek the help of an experienced San Diego elder law attorney to learn what options make the most sense in your exact situations. A bit
of planning can go a long way to saving considerable costs and ensuring all long-term care options are available.

Related Links:

Elder Abuse on the Rise

Decisions for Retirees Approaching Their Sixties

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