Many older adults are interested in saving money–and understandably so. With the skyrocketing cost of prescriptions, medical equipment, housing, doctor co-pays, and the like, it’s more important than ever to remain cost-effective. A fixed income can make it difficult to weather unexpected healthcare costs, even for those on Medicare since the financial cushion they have may be small – or nonexistent.
So, when it comes to getting a home health aide, many older adults are under the impression that it’s beyond what they can afford. However, if you take a closer look, you can see that there are financial perks to this type of assistance as opposed to facility living.
Assessing the costs of a home health aide
If healthcare costs for older adults were placed on a spectrum from most to least expensive, nursing homes would probably be at the top, followed by assisted living facilities, and then by home care. In fact, home care is often more cost-efficient than institutionalization.
There are many reasons for this difference in cost, but one of the biggest is that with an institution, you may be paying for services you don’t need. For example, if your loved one only requires help a few days a week, it doesn’t make sense to spend their hard-earned money for twenty-four hour care. Additionally, not all older adults will require the type of care that twenty-four hour supervision provides.
For instance, your loved one may not need help on a constant basis from an RN (Registered Nurse) or LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), but these services are typically included in the cost of a facility. There’s also the possibility that a portion of your dollars are going toward continuous cleaning and maintenance, full or part-time administrative services, or other auxiliary staff.
Furthermore, the institution itself qualifies as a type of “intermediary,” requiring a markup for things like prescriptions and medical equipment. By receiving these items at home, you don’t need to wonder if the cost has been inflated for any reason.
Value and paying for care
Value is something else to think about when weighing your home care options. The majority of nursing homes only have semi-private rooms, which means that your loved one must constantly share their space with at least one other person. Often, a thin curtain is the only thing separating residents and affording privacy. Private rooms may be available, but they’re usually on a limited basis — and at a substantial additional cost.
Likewise, in an assisted living facility, a small efficiency apartment is typically what is provided. Most older adults are used to living in their own (more spacious) apartments and homes. Clearly, it’s easy to see how a home health aide could provide unparalleled value when it comes to your loved one’s happiness!
Another way a home health aide can save you money is by potentially reducing your loved one’s hospital or sub-acute rehabilitation center stay. Often, prolonged stays are the required because an older adult lacks the proper help at home. Patients like these have to wait until they reach the level of self-sufficiency they had prior to admission (if that is even an option) in order to be discharged. If your loved one has an aide waiting for them upon their return, they may be able to make the transition back home much sooner.
The savings are up to you
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your loved one to decide what living situation is best for them, as well as what you’re comfortable with financially. However, it helps to take a look at all the options before making a final decision – especially if that decision requires leaving the home an older adult has known and loved for years. With a home health aide, it may be entirely possible for your loved one to remain at home – and at a lower cost than you ever thought possible.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.