NEW YORK (AP) _ Costs for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and some in-home care services have increased for a fifth consecutive year, and could rise further if a shortage of long-term care workers isn't resolved, a new study indicates.
The survey by Genworth Financial Inc., released Tuesday, comes as baby boomers are approaching retirement amid worries that they haven't saved enough to cover day-to-day expenses as well as long-term medical care costs.
The study found that the average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home rose to $76,460, or $209 per day, this year, a 17 percent increase over the $65,185 cost in 2004. Nursing home costs this year ranged from $515 per day in Alaska to $125 per day in Louisiana, the study found.
The cost for assisted living facilities, meanwhile, averaged $36,090 nationally, up 25 percent from $28,763 in 2004. Costs ranged from $4,921 per month in New Jersey to $1,981 per month in Arkansas, the study said.
In-home care costs for non-Medicare certified workers were essentially flat, at a national average hourly rate of $18 for homemaker services and $19 for home health aide services. But the cost of a Medicare-certified home health aide rose to an average $38 an hour, up at a 7 percent annual growth rate over the past four years.
The study by Genworth Financial, which is based in Richmond, Va., looked at data from more than 10,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care providers nationwide. The company sells insurance, including long-term care products.
Buck Stinson, president of Genworth Financial's long-term care insurance business, said the results indicate that "the expense of just a few years of long-term care in a facility or at home can very quickly wipe out a lifetime of savings."
He noted, for example, that an elderly person typically spends 2-1/2 years in a nursing home, or more than $190,000 on average at today's costs.
He said that individuals, especially the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964, "need to do more thinking about their own retirement plan and how they're going to age."
Stinson also said there was a need to find ways to "recruit close to 200,000 people a year to keep pace with the aging demographic." A companion Genworth Financial study found that low wages and benefits as well as a lack of training and career-advancement potential have made it difficult to attract workers to the elder care industry and retain them.
The study for the first time also looked at adult day health care and found an average daily cost of $59. That would work out to about $15,000 a year for participation five days a week.
Adult day health care, sometimes at a community-based center, can monitor medication, provide therapy and ensure that people with cognitive problems are watched and don't wander off.
Stinson said these centers were proving popular with families who have elderly parents living in their homes and need daytime support so they can continue jobs, take care of children or just get a break from caregiving.
"It's a convenient outlet … and obviously less expensive than a full-time facility, so it makes economic sense," Stinson said.
Consumers can compare the costs of various care options on a state-by state basis at Genworth Financial's Web site, www.genworth.com/costofcare.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.