This blog was updated on March 13, 2023
You and your aging loved one have much to discuss as they get older. Perhaps the most important topic, the cost of senior care, can often be the most taboo to talk about in many families. However, the more you know about the cost of senior care, including senior living and home care options, the better you will be able to make a decision that suits your specific needs, health, and budget.
For many family members of older adults, the average monthly cost of senior living can seem out of reach initially. Fortunately, with a bit more research into the benefits of senior living for everyone in the family and a comparison of current living costs to the monthly fee at a community, you might find that senior living is the right answer.
But before you can make a decision or a financial plan, you must understand the different types of senior care available, including assisted living and other senior living solutions, and how much they cost. Let us help you understand the cost of senior care.
How to Prepare for the Real Cost of Senior Home Care
About 53 million adults provided unpaid care to a loved one in 2020 — up from 43.5 million in 2015. Though it can be nice to have family members or friends provide some unpaid care to older loved ones, it is not always sustainable. Though some family caregivers find providing senior care to be an incredibly rewarding, enriching experience, it can also be hard to balance the role of caregiver with the roles of parent, spouse, friend, and professional. Caregiver burnout and fatigue can result in poor physical, emotional, and mental health for family caregivers, resulting in strained relationships, longer bouts of illness, and more stress on the caregiver.
Family caregiving might also not always be enough for some seniors. Conditions like dementia, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease can make it difficult to perform personal care tasks, keep up with housekeeping, and remain safe at home without supervision and assistance.
Senior home care, provided by home care agencies, can be a solution. Home care agencies bring services into the senior’s home through a caregiver or other licensed professional. The cost of senior home care is typically billed out hourly at an average of $24 per hour for nonmedical services. This cost is usually paid out of pocket and can quickly become cost prohibitive as needs increase.
The costs of senior care for an entire family are not trivial. But the following steps can help family caregivers prepare for and prevent that from happening:
Respite care: The cost of in-home care for seniors can sometimes get too expensive. If you or your loved one meet certain eligibility requirements, you might have access to respite care for a lower cost. Respite care is designed to give family caregivers a break, bringing in-home care through home care agencies at a lower cost. Though respite care isn’t intended to provide full-time care at home, it can provide a moment of rest for family caregivers.
Adult day care: Adult day services are another option for family members looking for support. Seniors can go to adult day care providers while their family caregivers are at work. Participants can enjoy meals together, activities, and assistance with some personal care tasks while at the center.
If your loved one needs 24/7 care or cannot be left alone for extended periods of time, you may find that senior living is actually a more affordable option that offers a greater range of services — including gourmet dining, transportation, and many meaningful activities — than you could ever get at home. Senior living is downright affordable when compared to the costs of a highly qualified team of in-home aides.
How to Prepare for the Real Cost of Senior Care in a Senior Living Community
Senior living communities can provide more than just luxury amenities and services that support overall wellness. Communities, like assisted living and memory care, provide 24-hour caregiver assistance, which can give peace of mind to residents and their loved ones. But how much is the average monthly cost of senior living, and can you afford it?
The national median monthly rate for assisted living averages $3,600, but it’s important to remember that the cost of senior care varies greatly based on location and the specific needs of residents. Memory care communities, for example, typically cost more due to the type of care provided, while independent living communities, which provide less oversight, might cost less. In any case, the cost of senior living often compares well to the costs of staying at home.
As you review the monthly fee of senior living, make sure you have a comprehensive view of the expenses your loved one has at home. Senior living communities often bill a nearly all-inclusive fee that covers everything from rent to meals to activities. Take time to calculate the average bills your loved one pays each month, including groceries, home care services, transportation, and housekeeping. Then, compare this cost to the senior living fee; you’ll likely be surprised that the real cost of senior care is actually quite comparable to what they are paying already.
Planning for senior living costs can be a daunting and emotional task for family caregivers. You don’t have to go it alone. Assembling a family caregiving team to help make decisions and explore options will help, and turning to professionals, like financial planners and elder law attorneys, for help ensures that your loved one is taking advantage of all the resources that are available to them.
The Bottom Line: How to Prepare for the Real Cost of Senior Care
In many cases, seniors have not brought their family members into their financial plans for retirement and beyond. If you haven’t already discussed the cost of senior care with your aging loved one, start the conversation. If you are able to be on the same page with them and the rest of your family, you will all be able to make decisions more confidently together.
If you find yourself considering senior living due to the amenities, services, and personalized assistance, take steps now to determine a monthly budget. Then, compare the costs of senior living to your loved one’s current expenses of living at home. This will help you and your loved one narrow down your choices as you begin to look for the community that is best for you.