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Planning for your future: assess the costs of long-term care

By SPECIAL TO THE BREEZE - | May 20, 2024

As each day passes, more and more baby boomers are crossing the threshold into retirement. After leaving the workplace, many retirees enjoy traveling and catching up on time with their families and friends. After a few years, though, many retirees begin to experience struggles with their health or self-care. This could prompt them to require health services, specifically through long-term care. According to the National Institute on Aging, the need for long-term care is sometimes prompted by a sudden issue, such as a heart attack, stroke or fall, but in most situations, the need develops over time. Causes include chronic diseases, as well as the aging process, which can make the body weak.

Long-term care consists of services designed to help seniors with their health and personal care needs when they begin to decline. However, it’s important to consider what form of long-term care you want for your future ahead of time, rather than when health issues begin to arise, especially when considering the price tag.

Long-term care is known to be one of the costliest investments you will make in your life, and it requires preparation to avoid sticker shock when the time comes. Many people are surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for long-term care.

There are several types of long-term care services, but what are the differences in services and costs?


Informal caregivers, such as family or friends, can provide long-term care in the senior’s home. Caregivers assist with personal care, such as eating, dressing and transportation, and they also become familiar with their loved one’s full medical history and communicate with their doctors. In Florida, there are programs that will pay family members for their work as caregivers. Medicaid allows its recipients to pay a spouse, grandchild, family member, friend or child to be their caregiver through its Participant Directed Option.

Professional caregivers include paid nurses, home health aides and other medical professionals. Formal caregivers are more equipped to help with the health-related aspects of aging, such as treating wounds or injuries and providing physical therapy sessions to keep the body active and engaged. Nationally, home health aides can cost nearly $60,000 annually, on average.

Comprehensive membership programs

For seniors proactively searching for long-term care, home-based membership programs are a wise option. Senior Choice at Home, the only comprehensive, membership-based life plan at-home program in Southwest Florida, allows healthy seniors to live in their homes independently with the assurance that if their health needs change in the future, they will be able to access the services that they need. Services include a live-in companion, homemaker services, home health aides, relocating to an assisted living community if necessary and more.

Financially, Senior Choice at Home is one of the smartest options for seniors, as its upfront cost shows you what you will pay for your entire lifetime of care. Additionally, you will pay much less for health services than you are likely to pay without a long-term care plan.

Senior living communities

There are several types of senior living communities that provide long-term care services to seniors in need. Continuing care retirement communities CCRCs, also referred to as life plan communities, offer the full continuum of care – independent living, assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing – all on one campus, guaranteeing a lifetime of care.

A benefit to CCRCs is that they give seniors the option to enter at whichever level is necessary for them at time of entry. Later in their life, the senior will be able to move to a different level of care as their needs change. For example, if a resident enters a CCRC in independent living, and then later begins to develop dementia or another memory disease, they will be able to move to memory support without needing to find a different senior living community. CCRCs come with predictable monthly fees, and they typically have an entry fee. AARP reports that the average initial fee is about $402,000 but can range from $40,000 to the millions.

Long-term care can be pricey, but it ensures that you will be taken care of for the rest of your life. Before you truly need help, lay out all your options and weigh them. If you’d rather be in an environment where social activities, amenities and meals are provided to you, a senior living community is the best option for you. Do you value your independence? If so, consider a membership-based life plan at home program like Senior Choice at Home.

To learn more about Senior Choice at Home, visit SeniorChoiceatHome.com.