Understanding Your Risks

It can be hard to plan ahead when you don’t want to think about growing old. People often misjudge their chances of developing a debilitating health condition. Without good information, you may underestimate the cost of services or how long you are likely to live. Too much optimism or denial can lead to poor planning.

Will You Live Long Enough to Need Help at Home?

No one can predict if they will require help due to a chronic health condition. But the longer you live, the greater your chances of needing some kind of assistance.

One way to estimate your life expectancy is by looking at your family's health history. If your parents and grandparents lived to a ripe old age, chances are you will too. Your health situation will also influence your longevity.

What Other Factors Increase Your Risks?

Gender: Older women are more likely than men to have a chronic health problem. Women tend to live longer than men, and may outlive their family caregivers.

Current health: People who are in poor health or already have a chronic condition are most at risk of needing help with everyday tasks. Availability of help: People who do not have family and friends nearby have fewer sources of unpaid care available to them. This can increase the cost of living independently.

How Much Does Help at Home Cost?

Getting help at home typically involves someone coming to your home from a home health agency. You usually pay for services on an hourly basis, although daily rates or visit rates are possible. While services in the home and community may cost less than in a nursing home, these expenses can add up over time. A person who needs a few hours of help from a home health aide in the morning and at night could easily spend $76 per day, or $2,280 per month.

In addition, you may need to modify your home. Home modifications can range from a hundred dollars to install a grab bar to thousands of dollars to install a lift or add a bathroom to the main floor.

Average national cost of services, 2010

  1. Homemaker: $18/hour
  2. Home health aide: $19/hour
  3. Adult day care: $60/day
  4. Assisted living: $3,185 per month
  5. Nursing home: $185-$206/day (semi-private and private room)

These costs will vary in different regions of the country. They tend to be higher in areas where the cost of living is high. The price of services will also continue to increase in the future.