Families Deal with Difficult Situations as Cost for the Elder Drives Higher

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Doris Ranzam followed the advice given to her about planning for the future in case she would be unable to take care of herself one day. What she didn’t expect is a nursing- home bill over $14,000 a month. Even with her insurance and her Social Security check, Ranzam still had to find a way to cough up $4,000 every month to cover her care in the Amsterdam Nursing Home in Manhattan. Her daughter Sharon Goldblum stated, “An awful situation.” Cost for health care for the elderly is staggering, and Goldblum did the math and figured out that her mother will outlive her savings, so in result she pulled her out of the home.

Two-thirds of Americans over the age of 65 who are projected to need long-term care, the costs are out of reach. The cost of staying in a nursing home has surged at twice the rate of inflation over the last 5 years. According to Genworth Financial, one year in a private room now runs a average of $91,000 a year, while one year of visits from home-health aids is about $45,760. It is estimated that 60% of Americans are nearing retirement. Between the ages of 55 and 64 have retirement accounts, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The average balance is $104,000.

“Within the first year most people are tapped out,” said Joe Caldwell, director of long-term services at the National Council on Aging. “Middle-class families just aren’t prepared for these costs.” Those who can afford it purchase insurance to assist in paying for long- term care years in advance, when insurers are not as likely to turn them away. But even with insurance, like Ranzam, the majority comes up short forced into alternative options such as; selling the house and depending on family. Hiring an aide to spend the day with an elderly parent living at home is usually the most cost efficient option, with aids paid roughly $20 an hour in certain parts of the country. Although hiring them to work 24-7 is usually the most expensive, Taylor added. “”Needing help to get out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night means you need a nursing home,” she contributed.

Greg Crist, a spokesman for the American Health Care Association, the biggest group for nursing homes in the United States, said many of the same trends pushing health care costs higher have pushed up nursing home bills. He stated, Americans are living longer but that doesn’t always mean healthier, so residents are more likely to show up with chronic ailments that do need more attention. Facilities have grown the range of services they offer to patients. “The cost is an element that may seem overwhelming at first,” Crist said, “but when you consider all the services — 24 hours, seven-days-a-week care, with full room and board — it sheds some light on it.”

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