SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

April 17, 2015

 Elder-care’s Rising Costs

Care for elderly a rising cost

By Matthew Craft ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK

The steep cost of caring for the elderly continues to climb. The median bill for a private room in a nursing home is now $91,250 a year, according to an industry survey released yesterday.

The cost of such a room in Columbus is $75,920, the survey found.The annual “Cost of Care” report from Genworth Financial tracks the staggering rise in expenses for long-term care, a growing financial burden for families, governments and insurers like Genworth. Nationally, the cost of staying in a nursing home has increased 4 percent every year over the past five years, the report says, but fell an average of 1 percent a year in Columbus.“Most people don’t realize how expensive this care can be until a parent or family member needs it,” said Joe Caldwell, director of long-term services at the National Council on Aging. “And then it’s a real shock.”The annual report from Genworth, which sells policies to cover long-term care, looks at costs for a variety of services, including adult day care and home health aides. And it’s nursing home bills that are rising at the fastest pace, double the rate of U.S. inflation over the past five years. One year in a nursing home now costs nearly as much as three years of tuition at a private college.

For its report, Genworth surveyed 15,000 nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other providers across the country in January and February. It found wide differences from state to state. In Oklahoma, for example, the median cost for a year in a private room at a nursing home came out to $60,225. In Connecticut, it was $158,775. Alaska had the highest costs by far, with one year at $281,415.

The average cost in Ohio was $85,775.

  • So, who pays the nursing-home bill? “A lot of people believe Medicare will step in and cover them, but that’s just not true,” said Bruce Chernoff, president and CEO of the Scan Foundation, a charitable organization.

Medicare will cover some short visits for recovery after a surgery, for example, not long-term stays.

Often, people wind up spending their savings until the last $2,000, and at that point Medicaid, the government’s health insurance for the poor, starts covering the bill. As a result, Medicaid pays for more than half of the country’s long-term-care bill. That cost accounts for more than a quarter of Medicaid spending, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Genworth and other insurers offer long-term care policies to help people shoulder the financial burden. But people have to be healthy enough to qualify for coverage. Those who take out policies find their insurance bill rises steadily as they age.

  • Caldwell described Genworth’s survey as essentially a marketing pitch. “Of course they want people to see how much it costs to sell long-term-care insurance,” he said. “What they’re not telling you is that the long-term-care coverage is becoming more and more unaffordable for middle-class families.”
  • Mounting costs also have pushed many insurance companies out of the business. Four of the five largest providers either have scaled back their business or stopped offering new policies.

Less-intensive care remains much cheaper than staying at a nursing home, according to Genworth’s survey. One year in an assisted-living facility runs $43,200.

 

Jan’s comment:

What Trouble with Elders?

Isn’t it Oregon where ‘Assisted Suicide’ is legal?

Long-term care – – what an awful thought, and not prevalent back in my day.  True, some may think of me as some kind of zealot because of my commitment to all things natural and organic with regard to food, dental/  body/face care and health issues related to it.    Most of these  issues weren’t even on the table four or five decades ago as all food was natural and organic.  Almost any choice was going to nourish our bodies and if we choose optimally, there could be easy odds that we would maintain a really fine range and quality of health.  Processed Food has changed all that.   Progress through chemicals.

During the 1960’s we learned smoking was harmful, and  not the glamorous thing most of us thought it was.  Multitudes began to quit, many finding success.  Millions more dragged their feet and many, indeed, died with lung problems of all kinds – lung cancer among the disabling diseases.   I lost  really close friends.   Worried about myself as I wondered if I ‘could’ ever quit. (I’ve told this story already, haven’t I?)

 We had what any could call A GOOD LIFE.  Family was everything, always was.   I think that this is just in our genes; the need to gather around, be with and care for any facing a hard time with life’s difficulties. This is  a way love expresses.   And this cohesive factor has allowed our species to survive, multiply and prosper.

Today so much has changed.  I read horrible articles in the papers of elder abuse, most of it too terrible for me to repeat as it is extremely upsetting.  Quite aside from the horror stories, I suppose the kinder solution is to just toss Grandma into a nursing home and hope for the best.   From what I’ve seen, there is no “best” to be enjoyed with that solution.  I saw first hand with my own experience with Mother, the loneliness, isolation and neglect which ensues.

When my mother became frail and lonely, I brought her to live with me for her last several decades – vowing never to put her into a ‘home.’   In her last two years, it broke my heart to have to break my word, but I couldn’t ensure her safety as I had to work and she kept falling with no one around to help her and paramedics kept taking her to the hospital.  Her doctor demanded that I put her in a home for her sake and mine.   I still saw her daily and tended her personal needs. . sat with her, and you know, just shared and stuff.  Wasn’t the same, but was all I could do now for this woman I so totally loved.  One must live with the memory,  sense of guilt for there are places in the life where we don’t always get what we planned, and just do the best we can.  

From what I have seen, few are motivated to bring frail or weakened parents into their home,  seems to be many reasons why this is not an option.  All one needs do is look at the splintering of families in these stressful, modern times.  On top of which is the economic factors. . . excluding the top 1%.  Our almost disappearing middle class certainly has no resources for the financial costs outlined above, and the Republican control of Congress and their eternal cost-cutting has huge slashes coming down the pike aimed at the underclasses and the poor and needy.   So what options, pray tell are left to us?  Suicide is illegal  (well, there IS that assisted thing in Oregon), but the entire nation can’t move there!    

There are a couple of things we could think about which could potentially open up a dialogue.  Heading the list would be choice and dignity.  A lot of us in that ‘elder’ classification have not lost the sense of who we are and what WE find acceptable.  No one yearns to be a burden on our loved ones.  Nor do we wish to be spurned or ignored.  Everyone is entitled to privacy and respect.  We are ALL different.  All of this of course describes anyone of any age.  Most people have some kind of ethic, philosophy or religion which impel us toward a sense of respect for “LIFE” itself and value the gift.  A great many have lived with a sense of purpose and enjoyed healthy desire.  We generally have valued being productive, and have broad interests.  

For some, aging cuts deeply into our abilities and preferences.  If we can, we continue onward.  If we can’t move forward due perhaps to immobility and inability to find a method to deal with pain, or, obliquely we might feel as tho there is nothing left we desire to do. . . . why should we not have the right to be candid and truthful and experience completion. . . if that is our choice.  Why should those who suffer cruelly not be able to move on if that is their choice.    Only because of “man-made laws”  which make criminals of us all.  Humans shouldn’t be forced to linger helplessly beyond their will and choice and endure endless pain. What and/or who does this serve?  Laws should be viewed and used through the eyes of compassion, intent and justice, not to just fill another jail cell (thinking of adoring spouses who help their better half to move on).. . just sayin’. .

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