Paying for In-Home Care

Most seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible—close to 90 percent, according to the AARP. But the desire for independence, familiar routines, and to be surrounded by cherished memories can put seniors at greater risk for something going wrong—from falling to not having healthful food on hand to leaving the stove on.

That's why home care has become so popular. Home care allows seniors to retain a large degree of independence while ensuring their most basic needs are being met. Home care can provide a variety of services, such as meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and any physical assistance a senior may need, including dressing and bathing. Simply having someone coming in each day or several times a week provides many families with peace of mind, knowing their loved ones are being looked after.

And while home care is usually less expensive than living in a senior living community, many people still find that paying for home care can become a financial challenge. Just as many people are surprised to find out that Medicare covers only limited nursing home care, they also may be unaware that it pays only for medically necessary home healthcare services, such as skilled nursing care and physical therapy. Medicare does not pay for personal care or homemaker services. Here are some ideas that have helped many families pay for in-home care:

Public Benefit Programs. People with income under a certain level may qualify for home care assistance through Medicaid; the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) if their state has one; the Veterans Administration's Aid & Attendance benefit; or other government assistance programs. Talk to your local Area Agency on Aging for more information.

Long-Term Care Insurance. Many long-term care insurance policies cover home care services. If you already have a long-term care policy, check with your company or agent to find out exactly what it covers. If you're looking to buy one, do your homework and make sure you're covered for home care. While the policy may be more expensive, it will pay for itself many times over if you find you need home care services down the road.

Reverse Mortgage. A reverse mortgage is a loan against a senior's house that allows the owner to convert part of their home equity into cash. The loan and interest are paid back when the home is sold or the owner passes away.

Cashing in a Life Insurance Policy. Life insurance usually is intended to protect a spouse's and/or children's way of life, should the policyholder pass away. Seniors who are widows or widowers and whose children are living comfortably on their own may no longer have an urgent need for life insurance. In these cases, it may be possible to cash in the policy to pay for home care.

Family Contributions. When a senior loved one needs care, the lion's share of the hands-on and managerial tasks often falls to one family member. If this is the case in your family, it may be time for a meeting to talk about a more equitable division of practical and financial support for your senior loved one. Beyond the upfront costs of care, caregivers should share information about the hidden costs of their caregiving duties: having to leave their job or reduce work hours …  less time to spend on their own health … using their vacation time for elder care … feeling torn between their caregiver duties and the time they would like to spend with their spouse or children. Family members who divide the costs usually feel better knowing they are doing their fair share.

Families who use in-home care report that it provides a very high return on investment! Professional in-home care agencies can offer information on financial resources that may be available in your community.

For information on topics related to home care and healthcare, visit our Home Care and Healthcare Advocacy group on LinkedIn.

Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned providers of in home care services.