According to AARP, 76% of Americans age 50 and older want to live at home for as long as they can, so finding ways to avoid the nursing home is the best option as long as safety isn’t compromised. This often saves money too.
The median cost for a full-time home health care aide is $4,576 per month, according to Genworth. If you don't need full-time care, the costs will be lower, and Medicare may pay some of these costs. The median cost for full-time homemaker services is $4,481.
Another option related to living at home is adult daycare. Adult daycare is much like assisted living, but you live at home or with a family member and spend either the entire day or a portion of the day at a care facility. Average rates vary from state to state, but the median cost per month is $1,603. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t pay for adult daycare, but Medicaid may be an option.
Other programs help those who choose to live at home. Meals on wheels, senior community centers, help with shopping and transportation, and free legal services are likely available in your community.
While living at home is preferable, it's not possible for everyone. Learn more about options for those who may not be able to remain at home.
- An accessory dwelling unit (or a mother-in-law suite) is an area of a home that functions like an apartment—though remodeling costs to add one can be high.
- Assisted living facilities are for mostly independent people who may need help with personal care or housekeeping; prices range from $3,000-$5,000 a month.
- If your loved one needs specialized care, a nursing home may be the best arrangement; the median monthly cost is $8,821 for a private room.
Accessory Dwelling Units
An accessory dwelling unit, sometimes known as a mother-in-law suite, is an area of a home that functions like an apartment. It often has its own bathroom, kitchen, living, and sleeping areas so you can still keep your independence while still having assistance readily available from loved ones.
The cost of remodeling or adding on to a home might be cost-prohibitive, but if the home already has usable space, the cost of remodeling might be lower than the cost of an assisted living facility for multiple years.
Like any option, there are pros and cons to accessory dwelling units. They can be disruptive to the family, especially if dementia or another illness is involved. You could receive home health assistance in an accessory dwelling unit, though, unless it becomes necessary for you to live in an assisted living or nursing home.
Assisted living facilities are for people who are mostly independent but may need some help with personal care and/or housekeeping tasks. Residents are typically mobile but live in a fully staffed facility with a private or semi-private room.
There’s no universal definition of assisted living, so each one offers different services. The price difference of assisted living versus a nursing home is substantial, though. Prices vary by area, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 per month. At a national median of $4,300 per month, the annual cost comes in at $51,600.
Medicare does not pay for assisted living services. If you or your loved one doesn't have the money to pay for assisted living services, consider applying for Medicaid, which may help. If you have long-term care insurance, that will pay for a portion of the costs based on your policy.
Medicaid is a state- and federally-funded medical health care program. To qualify, you need limited income and assets. It helps to pay for many types of long-term care.
If you’ve exhausted all other alternatives or your loved one needs specialized care for dementia or other conditions, a nursing home may be the best arrangement. A nursing home provides 24/7 medical care along with rehabilitation, socialization, and housekeeping.
Because the care is specialized, it comes at a much higher price than other options. The median cost of nursing home care is $7,756 per month for a semi-private room and $8,821 for a private room. This comes to $93,072 and $105,852 per year, respectively. Many facilities charge an all-inclusive rate, but some will have a la carte options.
Like assisted living and other residential facilities, Medicare probably will not cover the costs. You may be able to deduct what you pay for nursing home care on your taxes if you're in a nursing home for medical reasons. If you're in a nursing home for non-medical reasons, you can deduct the costs of medical care, but not meals and lodging.
For people who don’t have the funds to pay for nursing home care, some health insurance, long-term care insurance, and life insurance policies can be tapped to cover costs.
Medicaid will typically pay for care if you meet the low income and asset requirements, but you or your loved one may need to spend down assets to meet those qualifications.
If you’re a veteran, you may qualify for full coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at certain locations approved by the VA.