Many elderly people in need of highly skilled care and watchful eyes 24/7 have no choice but to live in a care facility. Others choose to move because of the socialization and ease of living with all of the meals and other services offered.
However, according to a 2018 AARP survey, most seniors would prefer to age on the spot. It found that 77% of Americans ages 50 and older say they want to stay at their current place of residence rather than move elsewhere.
That is not always possible and certainly not easy. But the benefits of having a better adjusted, happier senior – along with saving thousands of dollars – make aging at home well worth the effort.
Here’s how to save money keeping seniors at home
Genworth, a long-term care insurance company based in Virginia, conducts an annual survey of care costs for retirees. The median price for a month in a private room in a nursing home was $ 8,821 in 2020. A semi-private room costs $ 7,756 a month. The average cost of home help at the retiree’s home was $ 24 an hour.
Given these scary numbers, caregivers often think it makes sense to quit their jobs so they can devote themselves to caring for their seniors rather than paying someone else to do the work.
Don’t do it, said financial journalist Jean Chatzky, who serves as AARP’s ambassador. You and others shared advice on caring for seniors in a recent webinar.
“The amount they would spend on care could be the same as the amount they would earn. But when you include all the other things like (like) pension contributions, social security credits, career history, it makes sense to keep working, ”said Chatzky.
Here are different ways to keep seniors in their homes and reduce the cost of it.
Discover the group care programs for adults
Finding a great place for a senior to spend his or her days while a family member who is also a caregiver is at work can allow the elderly to stay at home and the carer to remain employed.
Programs that provide daytime group care for adults can be key to keeping a caregiver able to work.
There are a number of options at different prices and levels of care where seniors can spend up to 10 hours a day with their peers playing cognitive games, doing physical exercises, doing handicrafts, eating a meal or two, and socializing with others change.
To understand the benefits of a senior group day program over a paid home caregiver, consider the pros and cons of having a preschool age child versus having a home nanny. The costs are lower and there is more structure and socialization with a group.
There are several options for out-of-home care programs for adults:
Non-profit adult care for groups
Some churches and other nonprofits offer all-day care programs for adults five days a week. While churches have offered preschool programs for children for more than a century, Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, NC, was one of the first in 1991 to develop an adult care program for seniors. The Ruth Sheets Center now cares for 25 seniors per day and is licensed for up to 32 if the COVID-19 limits are lifted.
Ten hours of care is $ 71, or about $ 7 an hour.
The program, held in the church community hall, welcomes seniors with different physical and cognitive abilities. It’s okay if you have Alzheimer’s disease, are in a wheelchair, or need help using the toilet.
“We do cognitive activities all day. It can be so easy to name the states, which can lead to a multitude of different conversations. They can get to a state that someone used to live in or visit often, so that becomes a conversation outside of the company, ”said Matt Frazier, executive director of Sheets Center. “The key is to try to involve everyone, to awaken the mind.”
A typical day at the Sheets Center includes exercise, cognitive games, handicrafts, morning and afternoon snacks, hot lunch, and rest. A licensed practical nurse is on duty to help with insulin dependent patients (this costs a little more) as well as any emergency health problems for all clients. Every employee knows CPR and is certified as a Clinical Nursing Assistant or Patient Care Assistant.
You all know the importance of keeping customers busy and not just putting them in front of a movie, Frazier said.
When seniors take Valentine’s Day to send to family and friends, a caregiver gets people to talk about past relationships or special people in their lives. During a horse race, seniors name each of their miniature portable horses and explain why they chose that name.
“If someone has experience riding or we have a coworker who is afraid of horses, they can tell their business,” said Frazier. “We ensure that socialization goes hand in hand with competition.”
Profit-oriented day programs for adults
There are numerous for-profit day programs for adults. One of them is SarahCare, which according to Marcia Jarrel, Executive Director of the Lake Boone Trail program in Raleigh, offers a wide range of activities based on the skills of the clients.
“Care plans are developed with family and staff to create meaningful and appropriate activities,” she said.
SarahCare offers day programs for seniors in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Prices vary but generally range from $ 60 for a 4-hour half day to $ 85 for an 11-hour full day that includes breakfast, lunch, and a snack.
SarahCare offers a variety of group and individual activities. Each client schedules their own individual day, which can include technology tutoring, letter writing, painting, bowling, and nearly 100 other activities.
It also involves the community. High school students come to play chess or other activities, and the seniors can go to daycare themselves to rock babies or roll a ball with toddlers.
If caregivers can’t shower seniors at home, it’s an option at SarahCare for $ 21. Transportation is $ 14 one way and $ 28 round-trip.
Visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to find local agencies that can direct you to adult care programs in your area and financial programs that can help pay for them.
Check out local community centers
Many cities and counties have one or more senior centers that offer courses, events, meals, companionship, and other services at low or even free fees. Family carers can leave their senior for several hours to give the older one an interesting excursion and the carer a little break.
This can be a valuable addition to home care for a limited period of time, but most senior centers do not offer continuous day care. However, some have day programs. Clients must be in good physical shape and able to follow the programs on their own.
Important: don’t call it daycare
No matter what you find for your senior during the day, it can be offensive to a senior to refer to it as a “daycare,” a term associated with young children. Frazier said his clients’ families would say things like “You go to your program today,” “Go to friends,” “Go to church” or simply, “It’s time for the Sheets Center.”
Home improvement for seniors at home
When her mother fell and broke her shoulder three years ago at the age of 89, sisters Lynn Ellen and Donna Warren started a tag team home care program that only increased as their Raleigh parents got older. Two years ago, her father suffered an undiagnosed liver abscess that damaged his heart, kidneys, and liver.
When he got home from the hospital, the two sisters learned how to administer his IV and treat his abscess.
Both parents are better now, but their health deteriorates between the ages of 92 and 95. However, their daughters enable them to stay in their own apartment without paying for outside help.
Ellen is local, so she spends about every other day with her mother and father. Warren lives two hours away in Virginia and comes every three weeks for five days, bringing lots of meals each time.
“Fortunately, we are both retired and our children have grown up. We decided to do this for her as long as possible, ”said Ellen. “We save a lot of money and it’s what our parents prefer. You would get through so much money there very quickly. “
They have received limited outside help that is covered by Medicare while learning various techniques to make home care easier and more affordable.
“The hardest medical stuff we had to figure out was when Daddy was released from Duke University Hospital. We had to keep him on IV because of the antibiotics, ”said Ellen. The hospital gave them a free course and they didn’t leave until they really knew what they were doing.
Ellen’s mother has wet macular degeneration and her eyesight is severely impaired. Medicare fully covers an occupational therapist to help her get on with her daily chores. The therapist has highlighted the switches on the toaster, microwave and washing machine with bright spots to make them easier to use.
“Medicare also offers other visual aids such as special lighting and an eye patch. The occupational therapist comes for two hours once a week to help mom do these things herself when we’re not there, ”said Ellen.
Meanwhile, her father’s family doctor thought that physiotherapy could help his patient regain strength and improve mobility. A physical therapist assessed the situation and came for several weeks to teach a routine of leg raises and arm exercises. The evaluation and the actual therapy were completely taken over by Medicare.
- Free remote control for the visually impaired
Through the occupational therapist, Ellen learned that her local cable company would give them an oversized remote control with large buttons so that her mother could now turn the TV on and off and change channels and volume. Even if she can’t see it well, she can listen and arrange it for her husband with limited mobility.
Another thing that helped was adding an “elevator chair” to the house. These chairs include various reclining positions and a remote control that lifts the chair and tilts it forward to help people with mobility issues switch from sitting to standing. Prices start at around $ 300.
When Ellen and Warren decided to leave their parents at home for as long as possible, they realized they had to remodel their bathroom to make the door big enough for a wheelchair and get rid of the 6-inch ledge at the base of the shower door . Extensive work was required, such as moving a wall and reworking pipelines.
“We put everything on one level, added grab bars and a fold-down seat in the shower,” said Ellen. The job was more than they expected, about $ 14,000.
“That’s a lot of money, but that’s what a two-person retirement home can charge for just a month or two,” she said. “We did this three years ago and it made it so much easier for all of us.”
Check out the Veteran Benefits
The VA has a program called Veterans Aid and Attendance that provides a variety of services and funds to veterans 65 and older who have been honorably discharged.
Veterans with net worth no more than $ 129,094 can qualify for the cost of various types of geriatric care, including nursing homes, memory care, and adult day care, for $ 2,170 or more per month.
Veterans who meet the above requirements are also eligible for financial assistance in remodeling a bathroom to allow them to live at home with a disability or old age. Lifetime benefit is US $ 6,800 for eligible veterans with a service disability or US $ 2,000 for veterans with non-service disabilities.
Katherine Snow Smith is the author of The Penny Hoarder and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned.