Home Health Care: Is it the Right Option?

According to an AARP survey from November 2021, some 77 percent of people aged 50 and older want to remain in their homes as they age. If you want to age in place, then most likely, you’ll eventually need some sort of in-home care. As a general rule, home health care is less expensive and often more convenient than moving to some sort of nursing or continuing care community. As with most topics discussed in Third Chapter Living, deciding whether the home health care option is right for you requires a lot of planning and preparation.

Retire Guide offers a series of questions to ask when considering home health care and aging at home. It stresses the need to answer the questions realistically and honestly.

  • How many hours of care every day and per week will you need?
  • How much care can your family or close friends provide?
  • What kind of care may you need in the future?
  • How much will your other health care costs be in addition to in-home care?
  • Do you also need homemaker services (help with cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.)? How many hours per week?

Health care workers — nurses, home health aides, and therapists — can provide short- or long-term care in your home, but costs vary. Genworth Financial’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey lists the hourly rate for homemaker services as $26/hour; home health aides median hourly rate is $27/hour.

Some health care services are covered by Medicare. Other government programs, such as Medicaid and the VA, also can help pay for health care. Original Medicare does cover some short-term home health care, but does not cover full-time health care or homemaker services. It also doesn’t pay for extended long-term stays at assisted living or skilled nursing communities. As you plan for aging in place, know what is covered and to keep up-to-date with changes in coverage over time.

A recent report from Brighthouse Financial notes that health care costs in particular are not static. One estimate has in-home health care costs rising 20 percent by 2030. The recent shortage of health care workers due to the coronavirus pandemic may continue as current workers retire and the need for more health care workers increases. These shortages will further drive up the costs of home health care. Although the costs should still remain below the costs of nursing homes and continuing care communities, Brighthouse Financial encourages everyone to readjust expectations around the costs of at-home care.

Home health care is a viable choice for many older adults. Taking the time to determine if it’s right for you will be time well spent, because the type and cost of long-term health care have a direct impact on housing affordability. The issue is driving many to consider sharing their homes, moving to “granny flats” in their children’s backyards, and looking for roommates, all as means of balancing affordable housing and long-term care needs. Creativity and flexibility are critical in planning the aging-in-place scenario that works for you, allowing you to thrive in your Third Chapter of life. In our next blog, we’ll examine the ways in which current technology can help older adults receive the care they need at home.

Learn more about Third Chapter Living by visiting our Facebook page, Senior Housing Hunt.

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