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Finding a Solution: The True Cost of Aging in America

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Finding a Solution: The True Cost of Aging in America

People are living longer than ever before. At first, that sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t want more years to spend with their loved ones? Unfortunately, many people are paying the price for their long lives. Long-term care, particularly in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, can quickly become expensive. Nationwide, it costs an average of $43,200 a year to live in an assisted living facility. Move to a nursing home and that cost skyrockets to over $80,000 for a semi-private room or $90,000 for a private room. In some areas of the country, it’s even higher. In California, for example, the cost of a private room in a nursing home averages around $100,000 a year.These costs simply aren’t affordable for many aging adults, especially for those who never planned to outlive their retirement income so substantially. While advances in medicine have made it possible for aging adults to live high-quality lives longer than ever before, unfortunately, in many cases, their retirement savings are depleted long before that point. The solution? “Aging in place,” which allows adults to stay in their own homes for longer. Here are some of the options to make this a more viable solution.

Home Care Services

Home care services, which may be paid for by Medicaid, allow elderly individuals to get the care that they need in their own homes. They can receive basic medical care services, help with personal care, and even get transportation to and from medical appointments. In some cases, home care services will also include meal preparation or provision. The median cost of six hours of care from a home health aide is around $30,000 per year — much less expensive than an assisted living or nursing home facility. In addition, some individuals need less assistance than others, which reduces these expenses. It is for this reason that Medicaid has programs in place that provide home care for many individuals who do not require institutional care.

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Adult Day Care

Adult day care is more than just a place where your elderly loved one will be looked after in a secure setting. It’s also an opportunity for them to socialize, participate in activities, and have their basic medical needs seen to. The median cost of adult day care is $17,904 per year. If no other home care services are necessary, adult day care can significantly improve an aging individual’s ability to keep their retirement savings in place for much longer than if they had been in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

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Home Modification

When your elderly loved one purchased their home, they likely weren’t considering their needs as they aged. Things like wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, and accessibility options for showers and bathtubs can drastically improve your loved one’s ability to remain in their own home. While Medicaid and Medicare may do not cover physical modifications to the home, some states offer special pilot programs that can help with home modifications. If your state does not cover these modifications, they are acceptable expenditures in terms of using your loved one’s existing assets and can be used to lower that asset amount to meet Medicaid thresholds. The Medicaid “spend down” can be quite complex for the uninitiated, and it is therefore recommended that you reach out to a long-term care Medicaid eligibility expert or educate yourself fully and learn as much as you can about the process.

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Looking Forward

While the current health care model is working, it’s evident that the state cannot support the needs of an aging population indefinitely. Many revisions are needed to the system in order to ensure high-quality care for aging individuals in America. It’s going to take personal planning as well as public planning to avoid a crisis. Going forward, retirement age may shift to reflect the change in life expectancy. Improving the health of older adults to allow them to remain active and productive members of society longer will also contribute to the solution — but it’s not a perfect fix. In addition to steps taken by the population as a whole, personal planning is necessary in order to ensure that aging adults will be able to provide for their own needs for the duration of their lives.

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