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Resources | Caregiving Costs | Why Does Elder Care Cost So Much?

Why Does Elder Care Cost So Much?

December 6, 2022

Stressed out family caregiver

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Stressed out family caregiver

It’s a horrible reality that growing older and caring for an aging loved one are expensive endeavors. Most families are severely underprepared for these expenses. No one told us how much care would cost! 

Why is this happening? There is a convergence of realities contributing to the high out-of-pocket costs of elder care. 

Medicare isn’t the safety net we all assume it is.

The purpose of Medicare is to cover medical care (e.g., doctor visits, surgery, medical procedures), limited rehabilitation care required post-procedure, and prescription medication with the right supplemental plan (, 2022). 

What does this mean for your finances? Our aging loved ones are Baby Boomers, and they are a medically healthy generation! They are the first generation to have lived their entire lives with modern medicine and as a result, are living with less acute care needs and more chronic care needs. The care most of our aging population needs is long-term care (e.g., help with bathing, eating, mobility, transportation). This type of care is provided by home care or home health agencies or can be found in independent and assisted living communities. And Medicare doesn’t cover it. To tap into this type of care a family will pay out-of-pocket unless they have long-term care insurance, which may cover a portion of the care needed. 

Our aging loved ones need care for longer than ever before!

The Baby Boomers are living on average 19 years longer than the generation before them (Robbins et al., 2021). This means in one generation humans gained two decades of life. This also means caring for an aging loved one will likely be a long stage of life. 

What does this mean for your finances? Paying for care for a long time requires more money.

Aging-in-place is the primary option for care.

Most people want to stay in their own home as long as they can (Petersen, 2021). Turns out, healthcare wants people in their homes as much as possible too! There has long been a push in the healthcare industry to shorten inpatient and institutionalized care in exchange for home- and community-based care services. While this is cheaper for healthcare, it can be much more expensive for families! 

What does this mean for your finances? Now families are striving to keep their aging loved ones safe at home, facing huge out-of-pocket costs for home care or home health. Not to mention the mass shortage of professional caregivers in the U.S. making it even more difficult to find the care you need. If a family takes a look at community-based care (e.g. independent or assisted living), they often face a lack of space due to the large Baby Boomer generation on top of overwhelming costs. 

Here’s some in-depth information about the realities of elder care costs. What can you do? Take a look at the realities of care costs in your location. This will help you plan. Check out our article providing some tips & tricks for combating elder care costs. Find help from people helping families navigate care costs, like Elder Care Solutions.

Guest Author: Kimberly Whiter, Ed.D.
Owner and CEO of Elder Care Solutions, a mission to ensure aging and caring are as financially positive for families as possible. They work with families to educate them on their financial options for covering elder care costs and guide their navigation through the financial landscape, which can often be overwhelming for families to do alone.

References (2022). What’s Medicare? Retrieved from 

Petersen, A.H. (2021). The staggering, exhausting, invisible costs of caring for America’s elderly. Vox. Retrieved from 
Robbins, R., Weaver, M.D., Quan, S.F., Barger, L.K., Zhivotovsky, S., & Czeisler, C.A. (2021). The hidden cost of caregiving: The association between self-assessed caregiving-related awakenings and nighttime awakenings and workplace productivity impairment among unpaid caregivers to older adults in the U.S. American College of Occupations and Environmental Medicine, 64(1), 79-85. Doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002355.

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