How Much Will It Actually Cost?

This is one of the most important caregiver questions, but unfortunately one of the hardest to answer. To start with, here is a table of prices you can expect to see:

Estimated Costs
Medicare and Prescription Insurance premiums $2,000/year
Co-pays, deductibles, and Medical Costs not covered by Medicare$2,300/year
Home Health Aide$21/hour
Adult Day Care$70/day
Assisted Living Facility$42,000/year
Nursing Home (semi-private room)$75,000/year
Nursing Home (private room)$86,000/year

The above prices are national averages, and the actual prices vary considerably from place to place. For example, the price of a Home Health Aide can be as low as $15 / hour in Virginia but as high as $25 / hour in Alaska. Prices here in Boston can reach $30 / hour. The US Department of Health and Human Services has a website that helps you figure out the actual costs in your state.

And of course costs are hugely different depending on each person's situation and income. Here are a few real-world examples to help you get the idea:

Jennifer and Martha in Illinois

Jennifer is beautician living and working in Elgin Illinois. Her mom, Martha, is 73 and lives 20 minutes away in the home Jennifer grew up in. Martha is sharp as a tack, but stopped driving last year after a hip replacement surgery. She was also just diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Jennifer has a Home Health Aide come for 8 hours each week to take Martha out shopping, do some light cleaning, and help prepare meals. Jennifer also spend about 8 hours a week looking after her mom. Martha has a Medicare Advantage plan which she pays more for, but does a good job of keeping her non-covered costs down to manage her diabetes. Her plan also covers prescription drugs and some dental and eye care.

Jennifer and Martha Annual Costs
Medicare Premiums $2,500
Co-pays, deductibles, and Medical Costs not covered by Medicare $1,000
Home Health Aide $8,400
Total $11,900

Joseph and Janet in Denver

Joseph is a small business owner and single father living in Denver, Colorado. His mom, Janet, is 69 and lives about 50 miles away. Last year, Janet was diagnosed with stage I lung cancer. Though still somewhat independent, her overall health is declining. In the past 2 months she has fallen twice -- the second time, fracturing her wrist. Joseph is worried about her being alone at home but doesn’t want to overwhelm her with a drastic lifestyle change. To ease the transition, Joseph had suggested his mother attend Adult Day Care twice a week. This way, she could continue living independently while having the guidance and support of a caregiver outside her home. Additionally, Joseph has arranged for a Home Health Aide to spend 2 days a week with Janet in her home to help with light housework and meal preparation. Janet is on Medicare (part A, B and D). 

Joesph and Janet Annual Costs
Medicare Premiums $2,000
Co-pays, deductibles, and Medical Costs not covered by Medicare $2,300
Adult Day Care (2 days per week) $7,000
Home Health Aide (2 days per week) $16,800
Total $28,100


Susan and Eleanor in Boston and Boca Raton

Susan is an accountant and mother of three children living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mom, Eleanor, is 87 and lives in Boca Raton, Florida. Susan’s father was the primary caregiver for Eleanor until his passing 6 months ago. Eleanor has had Alzheimer’s for two years but ever since her husband’s death, has been experiencing greater memory loss and increased cognitive difficulties. Susan was very concerned about her mother’s safety and ability to care for herself so she and her family decided to put her mom in a nursing home. Eleanor has Traditional Medicare (Part A and B) but not Part D. She is on four prescription medications -- none of which are covered by her insurance plan.

Susan and Eleanor Annual Costs
Medicare Premiums $2,000
Co-pays, deductibles, and Medical Costs not covered by Medicare $5,000
Nursing Home $75,000
Total $82,000