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Help with Health Care Costs

Don't shoulder the burden alone

The cost of long-term care services in the U.S. is on the rise due to an increasing aging population and the need for more services. Benefits such as Social Security can help ease the financial burden that aging Americans and their families face. However, these benefits alone are usually not adequate to cover all necessary long-term care costs. For example, assisted living costs can range on average between $2,500 and $3,000 per month, although some can be found for $1,000 per month.

"In 2007, Americans paid an average of $77,000 for long term care."

The average cost for home health care in a Medicare certified agency was $38 per hour and $19 per hour for a non-Medicare certified provider. Medicare, a Social Security benefit for those age 65 and older, does not cover all of these costs. That leaves the bulk of these costs to be paid out-of-pocket by the family. According to MetLife, national nursing home costs for a private room average over $77,000 per year. When determining strategies for the care of an aging parent or relative, it is important to consider both short-term and long-term care expenses.

Many Americans need some type of help with long-term care costs for aging parents or relatives. Medical expenses alone can costs thousands of dollars, and insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare may not cover all medical expenses. Caretakers of elderly individuals are encouraged to utilize both comprehensive and objective financial planning regarding both long-term and short-term care. A cost-benefit analysis is also highly recommended to ensure that the financial decisions made will provide adequate income and will meet long-term financial goals.

There are many resources available to family members that could be used to finance long-term care services for a loved one. These resources include: insurance, assets, financing and personal property. Insurance is an excellent option to help control long-term care expenses, if your loved one has a policy. Assets such as investments, savings and retirement funds can also be converted and used to pay living and medical expenses. Real estate loans and reverse mortgages are additional options for helping relieve the financial burden of long-term care services. Personal property and assets could be sold and the revenue made from these sales could be used to fund necessary services.

Caring for an elderly parent is difficult enough without having to deal with the additional burdens and stresses created by strained finances. Fortunately, there are options available to help caregivers provide adequate long-term care for their loved ones. It is recommended that caregivers share the duties of elder care services, as well as the costs. If more than one family member is involved, then the burden does not have to be shouldered by one individual.