Updated 11/10/2011 05:39 PM
Long-term care cost increasing steadily
When it comes to health care, the older you get, the more complicated the issues and the more expensive care is, especially long-term care. MetLife surveyed more than 6,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care providers and adult day services and found that the prices for everything except home care has gone up in the last year. As our Katie Gibas reports, even the most well prepared people can face financial hardship when it comes to long-term care.
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UNITED STATES -- Ed Loren is one of those facing the challenge of caring for an elderly parent. After three months in a nursing home, Loren's mother wasn't getting any better.
"I saw that my mother was declining. She was just zoning out more. She wasn't engaged in her life," said Ed Loren, a Care Giver.
The finances were also starting to weigh on Loren. New York is one of the most expensive states for nursing home care, the average cost per day for a private room is $358.
Most people pay out of pocket because Medicare only covers skilled nursing and home care for a short while after a traumatic event. And in order to qualify for Medicaid, older adults would have to spend their entire life savings.
"It impinges on the freedom of a patient to make the decision, 'It's time for me to go into long-term care.' They may need skilled nursing or some sort of different level of care, assisted living or something, but they don't seek it because they don't think they can afford it," said Frank Smith Jr., the Franciscan Companies President & CEO
"It's hard to reassure someone, 'It's okay mom. We're just going to exhaust your assets and you'll be part of the system.' People who have been working and taxpayers their whole life don't want to think in terms that they're going to exhaust their resources and be part of the system. They find that very discouraging and then there's even less of a reason to participate. Then they just give up," said Loren.
Adult day care became an option when he attempted to care for his mother alone at home, but found he needed some help. With home care costing about half the price of the nursing home, he was able to bring his mother to St. Francis Social Adult Day Care a few times a week.
"Our program is really designed to keep people as independent as possible. So we are an alternative to a remote control. A lot of people stay home because their families do not have us in place or have alternatives in place until there is an incident," said Sister Barbara Jean Donovan, the St. Francis Social Adult Day Care Administrator.
"My mom was living her life. She wasn't just vegetating. She wasn't just looking at the obituaries thinking about who has died that she has known. She was living her life and continuing forward and looking forward to each day. And that, to me, is worth gold," said Loren.
Options like adult day services also increase cognitive and physical function to help prevent future medical problems.
"We have a nurse on staff all day who monitors the health. And because we know the people so well, if she sees something out of the ordinary, we call the people right away," said Donovan.
Smith added, "If you stimulate people and keep them active, they're less depressed, they require less medication and the lead a much higher quality of life."
The long-term care experts we spoke with say a lot of the pressure of staying out of a nursing home rests on the patients themselves whose health will benefit by staying active and living life to its fullest.
Those who work in long-term care say it is essential to plan early, before an incident, for how you are going to finance health care in your golden years.