Thursday, May 24, 2012

Family Matters: Caring About Cost

In a blog post earlier this month, the NPR Family Matters series continued its exploration of the emotional, financial, and personal challenges that families face when deciding to place a loved one in the care of others. In its third installation, “Discovering the True Cost of At-Home Caregiving,” series reporter Marilyn Geewax reports on the daunting challenge of paying for long term care services. In a previous post, LTC Leader discussed the importance of planning for future care needs, both for one’s self but for family members, too. While financial planning is paramount to managing expenses, it is often not the reality for many of America’s struggling families. In this third entry, Geewax not only compares the finances involved in various care settings, but also weighs in on the personal and emotional implications of at-home caregiving. According to the oft-mentioned MetLife Market Survey, nearly 10 million people over the age of 50 are caring for their aging parents, a number that has tripled over the past 15 years.

Though people may first feel that at-home caregiving is the most appropriate, whether for financial or emotional reasons, many often find that at-home care can be incredibly costly, as well as burdensome on the family. Geewax notes that a private room in a skilled nursing facility can run about $87,000 annually, but in comparison to the finances that families often don’t foresee, at-home care can be much more costly. For example, the article notes that for the typical woman (two out of three at-home caregivers are women), “lost wages due to dropping out of the labor force because of adult caregiving responsibilities averages nearly $143,000.” When considering the lost pension plans and Social Security benefits, and the cost of medical supplies and insurance fees, the family’s loss can nearly double.

As those in the long term care profession understand, costs not only amount to purely fiscal impacts. In the past, nursing homes were treated as a housing option for elderly people. This is not true today. Skilled nursing care centers are part of the health care continuum, and they answer a growing need to care for not only the nation’s elderly, but also individuals with disabilities. The level of acuity of individuals entering facilities continues to rise, meaning facilities are caring for much sicker and more dependent individuals than ever before. When families are considering how to properly care for their loved one, the most important factor should always be the individual’s specific care needs. Often, families will find that they simply cannot provide the level of personalized care that is found in skilled nursing centers. The caregivers within these facilities are not only trained, but they love what they do. They choose to live a life dedicated to caring for residents and they often become part of the families themselves. For more information on the NPR series, visit


  1. Lots of Good information in your post, I favorited your blog post so I can visit again in the future, Thanks.

  2. Preparing your future is a must! You have no control about things gonna happen. But what you can do is be prepared. Not all the time you can monitor your loved ones. In order to have peace of mind, it could better to find ltc insurance for them. However, you must understand what are the factors that this type of insurance can cover.

  3. I don't see anything wrong about having financial planning for the future. I heard other people telling me that once you start saving, an unfortunate incident happens, as if you saved for that said incident. However, if it's for long term care, it's a must have for every family to give back to our beloved elderly to experience proper care from professionals.