What Is Eldercare?
Eldercare is an umbrella term for a wide array of services intended to help older people live as comfortably and independently as possible. Examples range from basic transportation, cooking, or cleaning to complex medical care.
How Eldercare Works
When people get older—or very old—they often face physical or mental difficulties that interfere with their ability to perform their normal activities, what experts and insurers call activities of daily living. That is where eldercare comes in.
Caregivers who assist an elderly person can be anyone—family members, hired helpers, or skilled medical professionals, and they may or may not receive payment for their services. People in need of eldercare may receive it in their own home or in a more formal institutional setting, such as an assisted living facility, a memory-care facility, or a full-service nursing home.
Older people with chronic or debilitating conditions are likely to need significantly more attention or hands-on care than those with minor physical issues. Memory problems often play a role in establishing both a need for care and the level of care that an individual requires. For example, someone who forgets their medications now and then may only need a bit of help to ensure they take the right pills at the right dosages each day. But someone who puts a pot of soup on the stove and forgets about it for hours at a time may require more consistent attention.
What Does Eldercare Cost?
Much of the eldercare in the U.S. is performed by family members. Many adult children and other relatives do it free of charge (and often at a considerable burden to themselves in terms of lost work, physical and emotional stress, and out-of-pocket expenses). In some families, family members will split the duties or chip in to help defray the caregiver’s costs.
In other cases, hiring someone else may be necessary. Paid caregivers’ fees vary widely, based on their level of skill, the services they provide, and where the elderly person lives. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lists average national costs for a homemaker at $20 an hour, while a health aide ears.
In some states and cities, however, the cost could be considerably higher. Genworth, a company that sells long-term care insurance, says that in-home skilled nursing care, such as for help with medications, averages, as of 2020, $87.50 a visit.
If the elderly person is no longer able to remain at home and needs to enter a facility for care, the costs rise accordingly. According to HHS, a semi-private room in a nursing home averages $6,844 a month, while a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility averages $3,628 a month.But again, these figures can vary widely by location.