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Planning for senior care costs

by Shannon Lee

As the population ages, the chance of health problems increases. Planning ahead for senior care costs can lessen the financial burden and put your mind at ease. Here are some ways to anticipate and plan for those costs.

Anticipating the Costs of Senior Care

As a person ages, health problems often become more serious and frequent. Discussing the options for senior care long before any decline begins is the smart way to make certain your loved one is well-cared for, no matter their health situation.

Planning for Senior Care Costs

Choosing the appropriate senior care can be an ever-changing process. Your loved one might be fine with in-home care or assisted living for a while, but may eventually need to move to a nursing home. Some seniors may do just fine with occasional care.

Here is a breakdown of the most common options and the cost associated with them:

* Nursing Homes. If your loved one cannot care for themselves or have significant medical issues that require round-the-clock nursing care, a nursing home might be in order. According to the 2008 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home and Assisted Living Costs, the annual cost of a private room in a nursing home was $77,380. A semi-private room was a bit less, at $69,715 per year.
* Assisted Living. In the same 2008 MetLife survey, the average cost of assisted living for seniors was $36,372 per year. Assisted living allows your loved one to keep as much of their independence as possible, while having trained personnel nearby to attend to their needs if necessary.
* In-Home Care. In-home care is a good option for those who want to stay at home throughout every stage of aging. The costs for private care can vary greatly, depending upon the agency you use and the amount of care your loved one needs. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost for Home Health services is $29 per hour.
* Occasional Care. Sometimes seniors can manage their daily lives just fine, but might need help with heavy chores. Things like lawn care, transportation, and grocery shopping might be difficult or impossible for some seniors to handle. The cost for occasional care varies depending upon the specific needs.

Is Long-Term Insurance the Right Choice?

Long-term care insurance offers peace of mind to those who want to protect their family from the high cost of senior care. Savings accounts can quickly dwindle, and a health insurance policy might not cover all costs. Long-term insurance can bridge the gap and take away some of the financial burden.

Among those 85 or older, about 55 percent may need long-term care. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care are all expensive options, so planning for them now is a wise decision.