On a few occasions, I’ve sought to help families try to manage the cost of senior care for elderly loved ones. It’s a big challenge because on the one hand senior care is very expensive. But on the other hand, families really want to do their best for their elderly parents or grandparents.

This is true for assisted living, in-home long-term care, and nursing homes.

The best solution is to buy a long-term care insurance or life insurance plan. But most seniors dismiss the idea of getting such coverage until they actually need it. What are the other options?

Caring.com has an informative article that explains a lot of what I would say about Assisted Living Costs and Ways to Pay.

The cost of assisted living can seem overwhelming at first glance. However, compared to the average cost of a nursing home ($5,000 to $10,000 per month) or in-home care (about $4,000 per month for 40 hours of care per week), it is often one of the more affordable and convenient options if your loved one doesn’t need close medical supervision.

Read on to learn more about the cost of assisted living and important steps you can take to make this type of care more affordable.

When you receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, many questions and concerns come to mind, not the least of which is covering the cost of care. However, now is a time to prioritize other things, like self-care, family, and friends. To make it easier to focus on those more important aspects of life, here’s what you need to know about your finances so you can spend time tending to yourself and less time worried about costs.

 

Get the Bigger Financial Picture

Care for Alzheimer’s isn’t cheap. In fact, NextAvenue indicates care costs most families in the neighborhood of $60,000 per year. If you should move to assisted living, you could expect to pay around $55,000 annually, while a year in a nursing home would cost $82,000 or more. 

Unfortunately, while Traditional Medicare will help with things like hospital stays, Medicare won’t pick up the tab for the type of daily care most people require, like help with dressing, grooming, and taking medications. You could hire unskilled in-home assistance for around $21 per hour, which obviously could add up fast. While these are daunting figures, don’t get discouraged—you do have options. 

 

Dip Into Insurances

If you have an existing long-term care insurance policy, that can help with the cost of daily care, but if you are older or have a pre-existing condition (like Alzheimer’s or dementia), you won’t be able to apply and qualify for coverage through a brand new policy. U.S.News notes you might be able to use HSA funds for long-term care, depending on the circumstances, but that can be tricky as those funds can only be applied to qualifying expenses.

Families are typically burdened with covering care as well as expenses both during and after your passing, which adds to the stress for everyone involved. The last thing you want is to leave behind a legacy of economic strife. While it’s wise to invest in insurance plans like burial insurance to help with the financial obligations you leave behind, like your funeral, medical expenses, and other debts, with expenses like that, it’s clear a more extensive financial plan is necessary. 

 

Adjust Your Insurance Coverage

Even though Medicare won’t pay for daily Alzheimer’s assistance, Medicare Advantage plans are improving coverage for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases. Non-medical in-home care, home modifications, adult daycare, and assisted living are all on the Medicare Advantage radar, so if you don’t currently have coverage, explore your options. Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 and ends December 7 every year, and you can change plans without penalty during this time.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t currently require assistance, your needs are likely to change over time. An adjustment in coverage now ensures you’re ready for the coming year, come what may. 

 

Think Outside the Box

The natural inclination is to look to insurance first for help with health-related expenses, but there are other ways you can pay for your care as well. For instance, veterans are eligible for assistance through the VA and other military-oriented organizations. Similarly, Daily Caring points out that there are a number of programs that help with home accessibility modifications. You and your loved ones might also be able to qualify for grants designed specifically for those coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

You also might have other untapped resources. For instance, homeowners can consider a reverse mortgage to help cover their care costs. Bear in mind these mortgages are best for those who do not have anyone else residing at the home because of how the loans are structured. Just like it sounds, lenders pay borrowers for the property and the debt increases over time. The loan is settled when the borrower moves out, sells the property, or passes away. While not perfect for everyone, in some circumstances, it’s an ideal solution.

While there are no simple fixes for covering the costs of Alzheimer’s, thankfully, there are several avenues to explore. Look into various insurance policies and get familiar with your other options. Once you have a financial plan configured, you can set that concern aside and focus on the more important things in life—like your loved ones and yourself.

 

Guest post by Karen Weeks: Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. 

Photo by JORGE LOPEZ on Unsplash