As Americans live longer, the need for some form of long-term care in their lifetime will be inevitable. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services predicts that more than one in two Americans turning 65 is expected to need some form of long-term care in his or her lifetime.

But many do not plan accordingly and significantly underestimate the cost of long-term care services, according to an annual study by Lincoln Financial Group.

The study, “What Care Costs,” shows that rates for long-term-care services can vary greatly depending on the type of care and location, with national annual averages ranging from $49,920 for a full-time home health aide to $105,485 for a private room in a nursing home.

“The reality is that more than half of us will need some form of long-term care in our lifetime, which may come with ‘sticker shock’ when people begin to evaluate professional care options,” said Mike Hamilton, vice president of product management for Lincoln Financial Group’s MoneyGuard long-term-care products.

Consumers, the report noted, estimate the annual expense of a private room in a nursing home to be $54,000. However, the actual national average for a private room is $105,485 annually, up roughly 3% since 2016. A studio apartment in an assisted-living facility averages $49,632 per year, up approximately 3% from 2016, the report said.

The top five costliest states for a private room in a skilled nursing home, the report noted, are Connecticut at $465 per day, Massachusetts at $436, Hawaii at $428, Alaska at $424 and New Jersey at $399. The cheapest states for the same service are Louisiana at $188 per day, Oklahoma at $197, Missouri at $206, Arkansas at $207 and Kansas at $219.

On the other hand, the report pointed out that for care in the home requiring the medical skills of a registered nurse, the national average for a home visit is $137, which can add up to $50,005 annually if visits are needed daily.

At the top of the list for the most expensive states for in-home registered nursing care are Delaware at $194 per visit, Oregon at $174, Kentucky at $170, Idaho at $168 and Montana at $166. The least costly are Ohio and Florida at $107, New Jersey at $108, Massachusetts at $110 and Alaska at $117.

And while long-term care typically begins in the home, with family members and friends providing informal care as loved ones age, the report said, the caregiver ratio is projected to decrease from 4.8 caregivers per person in 2010 to 2.8 by 2030, the year in which all baby boomers will be older than age 65.

But not everyone has these informal support structures, the report pointed out, thus home health aides may be necessary to help aging clients with the activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing. The cost of these aides has risen to approximately $24 per hour, a 4% increase since 2016.

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