Aging in Place Threatened by Rising In-Home Care Costs

The costs associated with “homemaker” services – which assists older adults with tasks including cooking, cleaning, and running errands – and home health aides – who assist older adults with bathing, dressing and eating – are rising at a faster rate than nursing home care, making assistance with basic tasks more expensive.

This is according to 2019’s Cost of Care Survey results, conducted and released by Genworth Financial this week. Nursing home care is still more expensive, however the rate at which basic in-home care costs are rising has demonstrably outpaced the costs associated with care in a nursing home.

“Although the $51,480 national annual median cost of homemaker services is only about half the annual median cost of a nursing home, the cost of homemaker services rose almost four times as fast (7.14% vs 1.82%),” the study results announcement reads. “That means even assistance with simpler, everyday tasks – often the only help needed to maintain independence at home – is now more expensive than ever.”

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Because of the generally-accepted preference that seniors have in terms of aging in place, addressing the rising costs associated with the kind of care that will allow older Americans to remain in their homes will be an important issue to tackle with immediacy.

“Considering that most people want to stay in their homes as they grow older and 65-year- olds today have a 70% chance of needing some type of long term care services in their remaining years, it’s evident that planning for how to pay for long term care is now more urgent than ever,” said Gordon Saunders, Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Genworth and manager of its Cost of Care Survey.

The rapid increase in the costs of in-home care can be attributed to three primary factors, according to the study: a tightening labor market; costs associated with the compliance of local, state and federal certifications and regulations; and a shift in post-acute Medicare reimbursement, which has led to more hospitals to discharge patients sooner.

“We are addressing an unprecedented need among home-bound patients for non-medical care because we know that most seniors prefer to live at home for as long as possible and the aging U.S. population is booming,” says Tafa Jefferson, founder and CEO of in-home senior care provider Amada Senior Care based in Orange County, Calif. to Genworth.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects the demand for home health aides and personal aides will increase 36%, from 3.2 million to 4.4 million, over the next decade, according to the survey.

While the noted increase in the cost of in-home care necessitates consumer education toward saving money to devote to it, other remedies also need to be examined in an effort to make in-home care more affordable, according to Nita Sommers, president of San Francisco-based Honor, a company that provides workforce management and technology expertise to independently owned home care agencies.

“One of the biggest challenges is helping consumers adequately save for long term care, but we also need to look at innovation and what technologies we can utilize to help close that gap,” she tells Genworth.

Read the results of Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey.

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