Chapter 17: Financing Care
Throughout the book as we have described options available to seniors, the focus has been on helping them find the setting that promotes their well-being, whether that be aging in place or assisted living or another alternative. Still, as we have talked about the costs of each alternative, you have likely come to a conclusion we fully appreciate: professional elder care is expensive, and it becomes more so at an accelerating rate as a senior’s physical or mental health deteriorates.
The reason is clear. Caring for elders who have lost the ability to carry out their daily functions requires an enormous amount of time and labor. The big cost in care is not high-tech medical equipment, doctors’ visits, or even hospital stays. Medicare covers most of those short-term expenses. The big cost is the ongoing everyday work trained professional caregivers perform in helping seniors through routines they used to manage effortlessly alone and providing the seniors with the companionship and encouragement to go on with their lives.
What Families Can Pay
As long as the senior remains relatively self-sufficient and there are family caregivers nearby to help, the cost of professional caregivers to supplement that care is probably manageable for most middle-class families on their usual incomes. But when the number of weekly hours climbs substantially, ordinary family budgets are overwhelmed.
As forbidding as the financial challenges seem, millions of seniors do get excellent care in their final months and years, and your loved ones almost certainly will be among them. Generally, elder care is financed through a mix of the resources that follow.
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- Reverse Mortgage
We cover each of these financing mechanisms in detail in this chapter.