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The Actual Cost of Home Care for Seniors

The goal for the vast majority of seniors in the United States is to live in their homes independently, for as long as they can. The aging process, however, presents many hurdles that connect to current issues like limited resources, high inflation rates, and more that get in the way of achieving this. Instead of aging in place as they would like, many seniors succumb to the negative effects of the hurdles.

Fortunately,  many of these hurdles can be overcome with the right resources. This article outlines some of the biggest reasons why people are unable to successfully age in place, costs associated with aging, and discusses options for seniors.

Aging In Place Barriers & Costs

Looking at what causes seniors to move into assisted living facilities (ALFs) is one of the most straightforward ways to evaluate the barriers that prevent successful aging. 

Below are some common reasons why a person moves into an ALF:

  • Medication compliance
  • Difficulty with personal care / bathing
  • Loneliness / geriatric depression
  • Incontinence
  • Nutrition & Hydration
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Dwelling Cleanliness

For each of these items, there are concrete things that can be done in the home to enable aging-in-place. It is only when the total cost of all of these solutions becomes more expensive that moving into a facility makes sense. That means as long as costs are able to be kept down while quality of aging in place is kept high, maintaining a life at home is 100% possible.

Aging In Place Solutions

What many don’t realize is that combating the hurdles and costs of aging in place is completely doable thanks to all the services and solutions that currently exist. Just by utilizing any of the below, seniors will have the resources they need to successfully age at home without complications or excessive costs. 

Medication Compliance

Not taking your medications or mixing up your medications is a recipe for disaster. Just talk to any ER nurse, and they will be able to tell you stories of seniors who get admitted to the hospital because of medication mishaps that lead to an accident or exacerbation of an existing condition. 

The best and easiest place to start with for ensuring compliance to a medication regimen is with a medication dispensing device like the Phillips Medication Dispensing Service. This device, which is loaded with a person’s medications, gives reminders and automatically dispenses the correct pills at the correct times to the senior. If the pills are not taken, the machine knows about it and retracts the pills so an accidental overdose does not occur. The device can also alert family members and/or caregivers if medications have been missed. 

Phillips currently charges $60/mo for this service, which is a fantastic bargain compared to the cost of an ALF or hiring a person to ensure medications are administered correctly at home.

Difficulty with Personal Care and Bathing

Difficulty with personal care and bathing is often tied to either the morning routine and/or the bedtime routine when a senior is transitioning in and out of bed, changing clothes, doing dental hygiene, etc. If a person only needs help at one time during the day, then the easiest thing to do is hire an expert who can come to the home and help the senior with their routine. 

According to Genworth, it was found that the median hourly cost of a home health aide for seniors was $27.00. Monthly costs for the same aides were found to be around $5,148. There are usually a minimum number of required hours for help to come out as well. Let’s assume that someone is hired for 4 hours. This person would be not only able to help with personal care and bathing, but also with other items on the list of aging-in-place barriers. The cost of having someone come out every day for 4 hours would be $3,240/mo. While the cost is still not small, investing in home care means that the care provided can be tailored based on specialty needs, extensiveness, time period, and more, leading to an overall improvement in quality of aging in place.

Loneliness & Geriatric Depression 

Geriatric depression is one of the most under-addressed issues when it comes to aging in place. Improper aging in place and the lack of positive social engagement can lead to significant health outcomes like being socially isolated, depressed, and in some severe cases, physically sick. Some simple ways to tackle this problem head-on include:

Hire a helper to be a grocery shopping buddy

Getting seniors out and having them engage with the community while shopping is great social engagement.

Taking seniors to social events and meetings

Unless you live in a very small town, it is usually not hard to find a club, social group, or exercise club that regularly meets. A hired helper can assist seniors to these events and can even help to make them calm and comfortable before, during, and after.

Video Calling

Teaching seniors to utilize video calling apps like Facetime or Skype is the perfect way to keep their minds busy while giving them an outlet for socialization. They can be kept in the loop with everything going on with their families, right from the comfort of their homes.

Incontinence

Incontinence, especially bowel incontinence, is a common reason why seniors transition into an ALF. If the incontinence is just to the point where it causes some extra laundry and planning to ensure there are enough undergarments in the home, a caregiver who is regularly in the home is typically enough to help. 

A caregiver’s knowledge can help older adults combat incontinence issues by doing things like maintaining a bathroom schedule, watching out for certain foods and drinks that act as triggers, and acting as a friend to diffuse any embarrassment or shame. 

If the incontinence is to the point where the senior must be constantly checked to ensure they are not sitting in a wet/dirty brief, then an ALF is typically the best solution because this can happen at any time during the day or night.

Nutrition & Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration is often tied to mobility issues, difficulty cooking, and/or cognitive decline. One of the most successful ways of addressing this is to couple it with the social event of having a helper accompany the senior to the grocery store and helping with the meal preparations. The helper can then closely monitor not only what is bought but also how much is consumed. Depending upon other needs of the senior, this could be easily achieved with two visits per week by a helper, and can ultimately lower costs and waste for the older adult while providing them with added socialization.

Cognitive Decline

Mild cognitive decline usually manifests itself in a decline in some of the areas mentioned in this article, such as difficulties with bathing, cooking, medication, etc. All of these issues can start being addressed immediately by hiring a caregiver. If the cognitive decline results in safety issues such as the senior wandering and getting lost or leaving the stove on, then constant oversight is needed, and this is where an ALF may be appropriate.

In the cases where an ALF is not required, and a caregiver needs to be hired, individuals and their families can tailor their experience with different services like caregiver matching, local searches based on needs, reviews, and experiences, and much more. Services like these prioritize an older adult’s unique cognitive needs and allow them to be kept in the loop and make their own choices for as long as they can. 

Aging In Place Summary

Aging-in-place can be done successfully when effective resources are utilized. Most of the hurdles for living at home as you age can be overcome by hiring a helper that specifically addresses the senior’s needs. A careful review of the senior’s state and being matched with the best caregivers can go a long way to avoiding the need to move into an assisted living facility.

Additional Resources for Seniors

Public Benefits for Seniors

Aging in Place Resources for Rural Areas

Medicare Advantage Overview

Projecting the Costs of Aging in Place

Costs to Consider When Aging in Place

Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home

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