Financial Assistance for Seniors
Ask anyone who’s approaching retirement age, already retired, or taking care of an older relative—paying for senior care is a big concern. In-home care, assisted living centers, and skilled nursing facilities are costly, it’s true. And it’s also true that most Americans don’t or can’t save enough money to cover all of their retirement care expenses.
Fortunately, there are ways to help cover the cost of senior care beyond relying on your personal savings. These resources can help you make ends meet and take some of the stress out of paying for senior care. Even if you do have a healthy nest egg, it’s worth checking out these resources to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table that you might need later on.
View a glossary of terms related to paying for senior care.
How Much Can You Expect to Pay for Senior Care?
The cost of senior care depends on the services you need and the length of time you’ll need them. Your location plays a factor in costs, too. Nursing home costs are typically higher in the Northeast and in Hawaii and lower in the Midwest and the South. For example, according to AARP’s long-term care calculator, the total cost for a year in a semi-private nursing home room will cost more than twice as much in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as it will in Birmingham, Alabama. Across the US, the average annual cost is $77,000, according to Genworth’s 2014 Cost of Care Study.
How much you may have to pay out of your savings will depend on several factors:
- The amount of the Social Security benefits you receive each month
- The amount of any Veterans Administration benefits for which you or your spouse qualify
- Whether the senior care you need is covered in part by Medicare, which covers short-term skilled nursing care under certain circumstances
- Whether you qualify for Medicaid
- Whether you own your own home and, if so, how much equity you have in it
- Whether you have long-term care insurance or a cash-value life insurance policy you can borrow against
- How willing you are to negotiate with home health care services and assisted living facilities for a lower monthly rate or reduced fees
Programs and Agencies that Can Help Pay for Senior Care
There’s a lot of confusion about how senior care is paid for in the US. PBS NewsHour reported in 2013 that more than 40% of Americans think Medicare covers the cost of home health services, and more than a third believe Medicare pays for long term nursing home care. In fact, Medicare pays only part of short-term skilled nursing facility stays that meet strict eligibility requirements, and it almost never pays for home health care.
It’s a good idea to get familiar now with the agencies and programs that can help you pay for senior care later: