Long-Term Care in Nursing Homes: How Long Is Long?
Many people over the age of 65 may need assisted living in nursing homes. Some of them may require long-term care services and/or a higher level of care, depending on their health condition and care needs.
Given the high cost of long-term care in nursing homes, many elderlies may not stay long enough. The length of stay is influenced by several factors but, most especially the cost.
How Long do Elderly People Typically Stay in Nursing Homes?
An estimated 4-5 years total.
This may seem like a long time, but there is data to back it up.
According to a 2009 report by a group of research and advocacy organizations within the aged care industry, residents stay in an assisted living facility for an average length of about 28 months or a median of 21 months.
According to the 2010 Investment Guide by the National Investment Center, the length of stay is 29 months.
It’s safe to say that 2-3 years total is a good number.
But because aged care doesn’t start and stop in assisted living, the number of years is likely to increase.
Some seniors receive assisted living care at home or in a community-based setting before moving to an aged care facility. Some of them may have to move to a skilled nursing facility, while others would need short-term rehab care that may last for 270 days.
So, if you put it all together, long-term care inside and outside of nursing homes could last up to 5 years.
How Much are Long-Term Care Costs?
In an assisted living facility, 44 hours would set seniors back a monthly average of around $3,600. This excludes other required services that will increase the total cost.
In-home care, on the other hand, costs a monthly average of around $3,800.
The data is based on the Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey for 2016.
Therefore, if you receive in-home care for 9 months before moving into a nursing home for an additional 3 years, your total spending for long-term care alone is $163,800. Add to this the private room that can cost around $7,700 per month and you’re looking at more than $400,000 total spend.
But long-term care is inevitable and the best way to spare yourself from financial burden is to prepare in advance.
Facing the Financial Challenge of Long-Term Care
Speak to a financial planner to help strategize. Rather than rely on your retirement fund alone, which can quickly deplete once long-term care comes into play, find ways to save money for future expenses in nursing homes.
Some of your options are:
- Buy insurance for long-term early on. The earlier you start the higher the possibility of you getting one with better policies. Work with an independent insurance agent who is linked to several companies so you can compare coverage.
- Take advantage of the mortgage windfall and refinance. Then, dedicate some or all of the loan proceeds to a special account for long-term care cost.
- Save your benefits from social security. This is especially a great idea if you’re well-provided through an employer-sponsored retirement plan and private savings.
And when you’re in early retirement, keep spending to a minimum. What you save, you can then put towards paying for the cost of long-term care.
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