Difficult Decisions for Families as Nursing Home Costs Rise

When the costs of nursing home care are too high to provide families with seemingly decent options, do the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect become more prominent? According to a recent article from The Associated Press, elderly Americans are realizing that, if they require care in a nursing home, they’ll quickly outlive the amount of money they’ve managed to save. Indeed, “for the two-thirds of Americans over 65 who are expected to need some long-term care, the costs are increasingly beyond reach.” But will lower-cost options result in a lower quality of care?5846273434_ffcbff26a6

Unreachable Costs of Care

How much does it cost to receive long-term care? According to the article, “the median bill for a private room in a U.S. nursing home now runs $91,000 a year,” and “one year of visits from home-health aides runs $45,760.” Those numbers are even higher in California.

Based on data collected by Genworth Financial, the annual cost of a home health aide in our state is $52,624, while the annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is $104,025. While the cost of home health care isn’t expected to rise drastically in the coming years, Genworth does predict a 5-year annual growth of 4 percent when it comes to nursing home care in the state. And when we look at the numbers for San Diego in particular, we see even higher costs of nursing home care. For a private room in San Diego, the current annual cost of nursing home care is $127,750, and Genworth predicts a 5-year annual growth of 7 percent.

Even when seniors get a Social Security check each month, they’re still in need of thousands of dollars to cover the remaining cost of care in the average facility. Does the gap between ability to pay and cost of care result in elderly Americans seeking out options that cost less but provide a lower quality of care?

Bridging the Gap Between Income and Cost

For middle-class Americans between 55-64, the median balance in retirement accounts is $104,000. When you take into account that Medicare won’t cover long-term stays in nursing homes, you have to figure that most seniors who are firmly in the middle class and require this level of care will end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket. To be sure, they’re unlikely to qualify for Medicaid based on income and savings. However, their retirement accounts probably don’t have enough to cover the cost of a multi-year stay in a nursing home.

Some people save money by switching to shared rooms, which run, on average, “$11,000 a year less than a private room.” But when people can’t pay their bills at nursing homes, they can be evicted. Indeed, the article tells the story of a resident whose added dementia care and frequent trips to the emergency room—costs that weren’t covered by Medicaid—resulted in a 30-day notice to “find a new home.” When this happens, seniors can receive inadequate care, and they can sustain serious and even fatal injuries.

No matter what kind of care your elderly loved one receives, it’s important to know that older adults have rights. Regardless of the cost of a facility or of home care, elderly Californians should not become victims of elder abuse or neglect. If you are worried about the health or safety of your parent or loved one, contact an experienced San Diego nursing home neglect attorney today to find out more about how we can help.

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