By Lee Sherman
With cases of Covid-19 striking retirement communities and elderly care facilities with particular intensity and many of us sheltering-in-place with relatives that need our help, the differences between home and outsourced care have perhaps never seemed so acute. Covid-19 is (at least for now) an outlier but there’s no question that diseases spread faster in places where higher risk individuals live together.
So where is the safest place for someone who needs medical, physical, or emotional assistance?
The arguments for assisted living remain strong. There is no substitute for 24/7 monitoring with medical staff present. Having trained professionals available for meal-planning, recreational activities, and the regular administration of medication and treatments such as exercise and physical therapy can extend life expectancy for many. Even elders with the most common of conditions, such as forgetfulness, arthritis, and loss of upper body strength can benefit from being among others of their age group. Retirement communities can be a source of companionship, physical activities, and community meals. While getting an aging parent to agree to leave their home can be a hard sell, when the time comes, it may indeed be the right decision. And even, if disease can run rampant, they are still probably better off being in a place where a doctor is available on site to take care of any emergencies that will almost certainly take place.
Consider home care
Home care is appropriate when the care needed doesn’t have to be constant. Perhaps an in-home care giver can visit once a day to check up on your relative and make sure they are taking their medicine, eating right, getting dressed, or taking care of their personal hygiene? Even having a cleaning person show up once a week to clean their place can be beneficial. Home care can be a precursor to putting a loved one into an assisted living facility. You shouldn’t wait until someone requires assisted living to take care of them. Consider someone with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Doctors will tell you that there is a benefit to familiarity that can slow the spread of the disease.
The longer it is possible for that person to stay in their home, around familiar surroundings, personal possessions, and family, the better. For the most part, they may be able to maintain their familiar routines, at least for a time. Many physical and mental disabilities can be managed at home. While you may have to put in guard rails or add wheelchair access, this can be a less expensive way of taking care of aging relatives than putting them in a home.
The cost of in-home care vs assisted living
Only a small portion of either in-home care or assisted living is covered by Medicaid or Medicare. The brunt of this financial burden typically falls on the younger relatives of the elder person needing the care. And, no matter how you look at it, it can be expensive. Without knowing the specifics of your situation, it can be hard to generalize. However, typically speaking, in-home care is less expensive by about half. According to most surveys, it costs about $4,000 a month compared to about $8,000-$10,000 a month for an assisted living faculty. These costs vary according to the kind of care required but consider this a good rule of thumb.
The important thing is not to wait until you don’t have any choice. By doing everything you can now, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision in the future.
Lee Sherman is a contributing writer to MyPerfectFinancialAdvisor, the premier matchmaker between investors and advisors. Lee is an experienced journalist and editor with over 30 years of expertise with a significant history of writing in the personal finance and technology arenas.