Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Much Will Your Parent's Care Cost?

Who pays for your parent's care? The short answer--your parent does and you do. Sometimes, insurance or the Government does.

So, one of the most important types of information you need to gather as a caregiver is financial--you need to know something of your parent's finances and your own. Let's start today with some basic cost figures so you can begin to estimate.

There are several ways that the financial aspects of your situation may play out.
Your Parent May Stay in His Own Home
This means that any care expenses are added to the day-to-day home maintenance, transportation, food and clothing costs your parent currently has.

In 2006, the average cost for a home-health aide was $20 per hour.

In the 2008 PBS television special, "Caring for Your Parents", one family reported that they spent $200,000 per year on 24-hr, comprehensive home care.

If your parent remains in her home, you, the caregiver, will also spend money from your own pocket to support her.

A recent study published by the National Alliance for Caregivers states that the average amount that caregivers who live nearby spend on home care for their parents is $8,496 per year. This includes food, transportation, and medical care and supplies.

When the caregiver lives at a distance (over an hour away), the costs will average close to $14,064 per year. As a long-distance caregiver, you must consider that your household may have to support an extra expense of up to $1172 per month in expenses to help care for your parent in her own home.

Your Parent May Move in With You
This means that you are adding another member of the family to your own expenses. Since your parent no longer needs his own home, monies previously spent on his house and its upkeep can now be dedicated to pay for his care. You will need to work out with your parent how the finances in the new, blended family will be handled. The care expenses are similar to those stated above, but you might be offering your own time and effort to offset some of the cost.

Your Parent Might Move to an LTC Community
Expenses for a long-term care facility, whether an assisted living facility or skilled nursing home, can run from $3,000 to $7,000 per month, depending on the quality of care, the level of care that your parent needs, and the region of the country in which you live. Costs for comparable care in Delaware, for example, are $1500 more than in North Carolina (based on personal research, December 2007). If your elder needs to move into an LTC facility, that’s $36,000 to $84,000 per year.

In 2005, the cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $176 per day. Annually, this adds up to $64,240. Fortunately, some of this cost will be covered by Medicare or Medicaid if your parent is eligible. Note that the average stay in a skilled nursing home is 2.4 years.

Whatever your situation, there will be money involved. In the next few posts, I'll look at how the financial end of care might be solved.

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