elder care

Comparing the Costs of Elder Care and At-Home Caregiving

  • When your loved one becomes older and is no longer able to care for themselves at home, you usually have two options: Enroll them in a nursing home or other assisted-living facility, or take care of them yourself at home. You may think that a nursing home is too expensive or too impersonal, so you decide to take care of your loved one at home. Or you might think that you can't give up the time off work or handle your loved one's needs yourself.

    Of course, cost is a factor, but it isn't the only one. You need to consider everything that goes into the cost of care, as well as the intangibles that can carry a great "price" in terms of their value. Here are a few things to consider:

    Equipment Needed

    Many people think that a professional facility is their only option when their loved one needs special equipment to provide their medical care or help with their mobility. But the truth is that you can get many of these items for your home. For example, EasyClimber provides stairlifts for those who need help getting to higher floors. You can get medical beds, grab bars, and chair lifts for your home, as well.

    Before you make a definitive decision, you should talk to your loved one's medical team to find out exactly what equipment or aides would be needed and whether it is possible or practical to provide those items at home. Then you can decide if you want to invest in those items or upgrade your home as needed.

    Medical Care Needed

    Your loved one may need trained medical care. As people get older, it's almost a certainty that they will need this care. For example, your loved one may need to take multiple medications per day or to receive multiple injections. Or your loved one may need to use an oxygen tank, have a catheter attached for bathroom needs, get physical therapy exercises, or have vital signs monitored regularly.

    If you are not able to provide this type of care, or if you don't feel comfortable doing so, that doesn't mean you can't provide care at home. You'll need to look into whether a home-health aide can help and how much it would cost. Or you can consider an assisted-living facility.

    Financial Assistance

    Once you have a good idea of all the costs involved in both at-home care and care at a facility, you will need to determine what you can afford. You may find that there are ways to cut back on the costs. For example, you may qualify for grants that help you buy equipment for your home, or you may qualify for a program that provides the equipment for free. Your local or federal government may even provide financial support for care, including a stipend for at-home care.

    Talk to local government agencies and elder-care facilities to determine what resources are available to help you defray costs. You may also be able to draw on assets like retirement accounts or home equity to help pay some of the costs.

    Your Loved One's Wishes

    What does your loved one want? The answer to that question should have a big influence on your decision. Just ask your loved one if they would prefer to be at home or if they would like to be around other seniors their age who are going through the same things in life. You might be surprised at the answer.

    If your loved one isn't able to answer the question, such as if they are suffering from dementia, you should check to see if they have a will or advanced directive. These documents might contain useful information that can help you decide.

    Making the choice for how best to care for your aging loved one is not always easy. There are many factors to consider, including the cost of care, who can provide the best care, and what your loved one would want in the final years of their life. Make sure that you consider each of these things and other pertinent issues carefully to make the best choice for yourself, your family, and your loved one.