Planning for in-home care is a lot like the Chinese adage about planting a tree: The best time was 20 years ago, and second best is today.
Older Americans determined to stay in their own homes are likely to need help at some point — for a few hours a day or 24/7 — with personal care, household chores and nursing services.
"There's advanced planning, and there's crisis planning," says Hyman G. Darling, an estate attorney in Springfield, Mass., and president-elect of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Those who plan ahead often buy long-term care insurance policies with home care benefits if they can afford them and qualify for them. Those without it often start out relying on an unpaid family caregiver.
"It's tough," Darling says.
About 1 in 3 people caring for someone at home (as opposed to a nursing home), said they had hired paid help in the past year, according to a 2015 survey by the AARP Public Policy Institute and National Alliance for Caregiving.
The median cost nationwide for either homemaker or home health aide services is upward of $125 a day, assuming 44 hours of care per week. The median cost for assisted living is comparable to 44 hours of home care a week (though far less than a nursing home), according to the Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Study. Costs vary by region, number of hours and level of care needed.
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