CHICAGO, IL – Long-term senior care encompasses a spectrum of options. There are a variety of long-term care options including nursing homes and assisted living, but sometimes these are not enough.
Maintaining independence is a priority for most adults. Other alternatives like independent living and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) attract many residents. For seniors who prefer a family-like atmosphere and need more help, options such as group homes are available.
Paying for long-term care facilities and determining the quality of care they can provide for you or your love one can be frustrating and overwhelming. Payment is a major limiting factor in long-term care choices. For example, assisted living facilities and CCRCs are extremely expensive. You’ll also need to factor in what is and isn’t covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
Facilities don’t operate the same way they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically because of the outbreaks and negligence to control measures. Resident activities and visitor restrictions may still be in place.
Staffing shortages continue to plague the long-term care industry. In a press release from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, he Bureau of Labor Statistics reported losing nearly 290,000 caregivers (or 14% of its workforce) since February 2020, the worst job loss among all health care sectors.
Determining care levels
Long-term care is a good option for people who need around-the-clock care, assistance with daily activities and feeding, help with mobility such as transferring in and out of bed or to a wheelchair. Nursing home residents can receive prescribed treatment and personal care as needed. Rehabilitation services like speech or physical therapy may also be available.
Assisted living facilities offer a housing alternative for older adults who need assistance with dressing, bathing, eating and toileting, but do not require intensive medical and nursing care. Assisted living is known for its community-based approach, with a focus on group and individual activities so residents don’t feel isolated.
Utilize the Eldercare Locater to help you start the search for local long-term care facilities in your area.
Other types of long-term care facilities include:
- Retirement living/independent living
Independent or retirement living focuses on a self-sufficient lifestyle for seniors. These residences might be part of self-contained retirement communities or high-rise apartment complexes, among other models. Costs for independent living options vary greatly based on location, services and benefits including housekeeping and activities offered.
CCRCs offer a tiered approach to their residence, so as their needs change, they can transition to on-site assisted living or nursing home facilities. A resident only has to make one move within their community to transition to different levels of care. CRCCs are intended to be the last place a person lives, but this streamlined convenience can cost a pretty penny. CRCCs represent a significant financial investment with hefty entrance fees and monthly charges.
- Adult family homes/residential care homes
Unlike nursing homes, family homes and residential care units do not promise any kind of medical or skilled nursing coverage; however, they do help with day-to-day care including living, eating, bathing, dressing and toileting.
- Medical foster care
For military veterans with chronic medical conditions that meet the nursing home level of care, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees its Medical Foster Homes Program. These facilities are private homes in which a trained caregiver provides support to a small number of people. The costs ranges from about $1,500 to $3,000 per month based on your income and level of care needed.
- Memory care
Older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia requires an extra level of care and supervision. Memory care facilities offer a safe and structured environment with gentle sensory stimulation that people with dementia can benefit from. Secured memory units are located within many nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
- Skilled nursing facilities
Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are often used interchangable; however, they aren’t exactly the same. Skilled nursing facilities have a consistent presence of nurses of physicians and offer rehabilitation services, including occupational, physical and speech therapy. An individual that truly qualifies for skilled nursing facility care needs significant assistance. For example, a skilled nursing resident may have a disability or require chronic medical care like dialysis.
Covering the cost
The cost of senior care depends on your geographic and metropolitan region. According to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey, the median monthly cost for an assisted living facility is $4,500 – totaling $54,000 annually, up from $28,800 in 2004. Skilled nursing in a private room is more expensive clocking in at more than $9,000 per month, totaling more than $108,400 per year.
It’s important to review what Medicare and Medicaid cover, as well as how long-term care insurance can be applied towards nursing home costs.