Given a choice, most of us would prefer to die peacefully in our sleep at a ripe old age after an active day of cooking dinner for our family, going out with friends, or puttering around in the garden. We prefer to imagine ourselves healthy and independent till the last. The thought of death is uncomfortable enough without dwelling on the decline in health leading up to it.

Some folks are lucky enough to stay fairly healthy right up until the end, but the reality is that most of us will need some care and support long before the end of life. Adults age 65 and older have a nearly 70% chance of needing long-term care services sometime in their remaining years, and 20% of today’s 65-year-olds will need that care for more than 5 years, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Advances in medicine are helping us live longer, but the increasing prevalence of diseases like dementia leaves more elder adults in need of long-term support services.

There’s no sugar-coating it:  long-term care is expensive. It’s something that needs to be factored into every adult’s retirement planning. But just how much does it cost? The Genworth Cost of Care Survey is a wonderful interactive resource for learning about approximate costs of care in your region.

The type of care needed has a big impact on overall cost. For example, taking an elder who needs monitoring in a safe environment to an adult day services program costs much less than moving them into an assisted living or nursing home. The chart below breaks down the approximate annual expenses for several types of long-term care services in East Tennessee.

Type of Service Approx. Annual Cost of Care in East TN*
Adult Day Services (5 days/wk) $12,000 – $25,000
Homemaker Services (44 hrs/wk) $39,000 – $48,000
Home Health Aide (44 hrs/wk) $42,000 – $49,000
Assisted living $36,000 – $50,000
Nursing home, semi-private room $71,000 – $85,000
Nursing home, private room $76,000 – $88,000

*Based on Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018, data for Chattanooga, Cleveland, Jefferson City, Kingsport, Knoxville, and Morristown.Long-Term Care Cost

If these figures seem impossible to reach, keep in mind that there are state and federal programs (such as TennCare and VA), as well as private insurance agencies, which can help pay for long-term care. To get the best results it’s important to plan early and work with someone who thoroughly understands the cost of care, the typical care challenges families face, and the rules of the programs that pay for care. A Life Care Planning law firm specializes in helping families who are approaching or have reached this intersection of legal, financial, and care needs. Talk to a Life Care Planning attorney about your family’s situation to find the best strategy for covering long-term care costs.

Image © Andrey Andreev