Understanding Long Term Care

3d house and stethoscope

Last week, I discussed using Long-Term Care Insurance to cover the costs of assisted living or nursing home care.  This week, I’d like to back up a bit by discussing the different levels of care (what is the difference between assisted living and nursing home care, anyways?).  Next, I’ll get into other means of paying for long-term care, beyond insurance (Medicare? Nope. Medicaid? Maybe!)

First, long-term care is the kind of care provided to people who need help with basic activities (“activities of daily living”) such as bathing, dressing, eating, walking, etc.  Individuals may need assistance for physical or cognitive reasons, such as dementia.

The following are different types of long-term care:

In-Home Care (by family caregiver or hired caregiver)

Adult Day Care (non-residential facility for the supervised care of older adults, providing activities such as meals and socialization one or more days a week during specified daytime hours)

Assisted Living Facility (housing for people with disability – often seniors – which provides assistance with activities of daily living but is not licensed to provide medical or continuous nursing care. Some provide special care for those with memory issues, while others are not equipped for residents with memory issues)

Personal Care Home (Georgia term for a type of Assisted Living Facility generally housed in a smaller, home-like setting)

Nursing Home aka Skilled Nursing Facility (facility providing long-term personal and medical/nursing care to the aged and disabled).

The appropriate type of long-term care is, of course, different for each individual.  Those who need nursing care are not eligible to stay in an Assisted Living Facility because the facility is not licensed to provide it.  On the other hand, those who don’t need nursing care tend to enjoy the residential, less medical setting of an Assisted Living Facility.  In-home care may be proper for a variety of needs, and can range from several hours per day or week to round-the-clock care.

So how much does this all cost?  Here are estimates based on a 2012 MetLife Market Survey which seem to accurately reflect the experiences of my clients:

In-Home Care: $17 – $24 / hour ($408 – $576 / day)

Adult Day Care: $40 – $140 / day (average $71)

Assisted Living Facility: $2,800 – $5,500 / month (average $3,350; up to $4,807 for memory care)

Personal Care Home: $1,500 – $4,000 / month (average $3,116)

Nursing Home: $5,400 – $10,000 / month (average $7,500).

As you can see, the costs of long-term care can be outstanding and are expected to grow.  Next week I will discuss how, in addition to planning ahead with savings or long-term care insurance, government benefits may be able to help.

Image © aey – Fotolia.com

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia

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