5 Creative Ways to Pay for Senior Care
Paying for senior care is a hot topic — because so many Americans have reached the age when they need care and because care is so costly. The 2015 median cost of US nursing home care (in a semi-private room) was $80,300 – much higher than the national median household income of roughly $57,000.
If you’ve looked into senior care, you’ve probably read about Medicaid, VA programs, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance, and life insurance policies as options to cover care costs. Those are the most widely available and reliable forms of assistance and cash for most of us. There are some additional ways to make senior-care ends meet or at least get a little closer together.
Bridge loans for senior care
Selling your home can pay for a lot of care, but there can be roadblocks. Care needs may arise before your house is market-ready, or you may be selling into a slow market. In such cases, if you have a strong credit history you may qualify for a bridge loan. This is an interest-only instrument that covers the cost of your senior care before your home sells; then the loan is paid back with proceeds from the sale.
An estate sale
If you’re selling your home to move to senior care, you may be tempted to put your surplus belongings in storage for later. This costs money and almost always leaves loved ones with the task of sorting things while they’re grieving. An estate sale may be a better choice. You can hire an estate sale agency (ideally before you sell your home so they can stage the items for buyers) or let family members select items in exchange for coordinating the sale. Unless you’re a world-class collector, an estate sale won’t fund all your care needs but it will free up cash and save you the cost of storage.
A family agreement — in writing
If you have adult children who are willing to help, a written family agreement can help keep the cost of care in the family and avoid disputes. Medicaid, the VA Aid & Attendance program, and some long-term care policies allow you to pay relatives the market rate for caregiving. You should make written arrangements to outline the care you need.
Another way to use a written agreement is when your adult children are contributing to your care with money, time, or a combination of both. Outline everyone’s assistance and set up your estate to settle things fairly and prevent sibling quarrels after your passing.
Leave no (benefit) stone unturned
Benefits CheckUp from the National Council on Aging is one of the most complete resource tools we’ve seen. Do a quick survey or a detailed questionnaire to get a list of medical, long-term care, housing, and utility programs you may qualify for, along with links to each program. It takes just a few minutes and some basic income and expense information to see what’s available for you or a family member.
This one’s for people who don’t mind sharing their situation online. Fundraising sites like GoFundMe let you post your story, set a fundraising goal, and request donations from friends, neighbors, and anyone else who sees your page. People can and do set up pages on GoFundMe and similar sites to raise money for long-term care. These sites charge a percentage of the donations as a user fee—usually around 5% of the total you raise.