Is At Home Care Becoming Too Expensive For Seniors?

When it comes to seniors, there are concepts attached that other people think about when they think about the older generation of people.
By Tiffany G.
Updated Dec 9, 2020
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When it comes to seniors, there are concepts attached that other people think about when they think about the older generation of people. Cheap coffee, discounts on almost anything, time to do whatever they want, reduced income, failing health, rising costs of healthcare. Is home health care becoming too expensive for seniors also?

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What Is Home Health Care?

Home health care is medical care that takes place in the home of the patient, instead of in a hospital or a clinic. It is medical care given by medical professionals, such as nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, or non-medical assistance with daily living. One goal of the home health provider is to reduce avoidable readmissions to the hospital.

On the skilled health service side, some examples of what they do to help a patient include injections, monitoring the health status of the patient, wound care, nutritional care, and others. Their main goals are for the patient to regain their independence and to become as self-sufficient as possible. They also want to slow the decline of health and for the patient to get better, or at least maintain their current level of function and prevent deterioration.

Why Do People Choose Home Health Care?

The reasons that people choose home health care are vast. A patient could have a fear of hospitals and doesn’t want to be in one. Another person might not want to rack up an expensive hospital bill from staying too long. Some patients prefer recuperating at home as they know they believe they are likely to catch an illness in the hospital. While patients are more comfortable at home and enjoy a higher level of personal independence, there is also research suggesting that patients recover quicker when at home.

Rising Costs of Home Care

It is no surprise that health care is expensive; even nursing homes can drain the savings account. Nursing homes in New York are the most expensive in the country and average $300 per day, which is nearly $110,000. In 1958, the per capita health expenditures, which included either private health insurance or care paid by the government, was $134. By 2012, this had risen to nearly $9,000 per person, and the typical worker would have to work 467 hours (58 days) to be able to pay for it while the person living in 1958 only had to work 118 hours (15) days to pay for it as the average wage was $1.98. In comparison, the time price for other goods and services has decreased.

For a long time, home health care was the cheaper option, but the cost of care at home has been on the rise. In 2004, the average cost of a home health aide was a little over $42,000, while a private room in a nursing home was a little over $65,000 per year. As of 2018, the average cost of a home care health aide was nearly $51,000 compared to the near $101,000 per year for a private room in a nursing home. This doesn’t take into account the living expenses of the senior.

How Home Health Care May Be Unobtainable For Some Seniors

Understandably, seniors wish to remain independent for as long as they can. After all, they have spent nearly four or more decades living as an independent adult, and now their health has declined to the point where they now can’t take care of themselves without assistance, or having someone take over their care entirely. While home health care is a cheaper option than a nursing home or an assisted living facility, it is still unobtainable for a large number of seniors.

There are multiple factors as to why a senior may not have had the money saved for retirement and are unable to afford home health care. Such factors include:

  • They thought they had plenty of time to save for retirement

  • It was hard to save money while raising children

  • Emergencies which drained their funds and they were unable to bring the savings back up to that level

  • They did not have a job where it would pay them enough to live on after retirement and afford home health care

Since health care costs have significantly increased and caring for seniors and the elderly has become more expensive than raising children, it is not surprising that those retiring have followed in the footsteps of those have moved to countries which have cheaper, or free, health care, such as Panama, Australia, or even the UK and France

Home Healthcare Cost Factors

There are multiple factors determining health care costs, apart from rising prices of medications, services, and wages of those providing the care. Where a person lives affects how much they would have to spend. For example, assistance in New York City would be far more expensive than Topeka, Kansas, as would the cost of living. The health of the client is taken into consideration as well because that would affect the amount of care that would be needed, which is another factor, and also the type of care they would need, which is also a factor.

While individual lifestyles can slow down the aging process and ensure seniors live healthier and longer, aging does not stop. While proper diet and exercise can’t prevent every single illness or disease brought on by aging, there are those seniors who are running marathons or even bodybuilding, and either don’t need care or medications or need very little attention.

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