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In Arizona, Home Support is the Right Choice for Senior Care

Seniors’ transition to life during and after retirement is a challenge that has not been eased with the state of the current economy.  As far back as mid-2009, Seniors who had planned to sell their homes and move into retirement communities had to postpone this important phase in their life due to insufficient value in the current homes to pay for the transition.  Amid years of skyrocketing home prices, some older homeowners neglected to save. 

This situation is even more dire in sunbelt states like Arizona and cities like Phoenix where record growth in foreclosures continues.   Furthermore, sunny and warm Arizona is projected to rise from the 20th largest state population to the 10th largest state population in the U.S. by 2030 due in large part to growing numbers of those 65 and older .who will in turn seek to sell their homes in the coming years, further depressing home values. 

Seniors who remain at home still need care.  Among those over 80 years old, 29% reported that they needed assistance with daily living.   With the average 65-year-old senior citizen can expect to live to almost 84 today, needs of Arizona Seniors who cannot move to facilities dedicated to their care must be met by alternatives,  

But what choices does our senior population have for care that are affordable, fully meet their health needs and ensure peace of mind (for them and their loved ones)?  Assisted living and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) have traditionally served these seniors, but faced with limited savings and home equity, many are turning to families to provide direct care that once might have been provided at a stand-alone assisted living community.  Certainly this has the benefit of drawing seniors and their families closer to one another, while ensuring that the care giver (who loves and is personally vested in any outcomes) provides the best care that they can.  

However, this caregiver responsibility comes with an opportunity cost.  If a family member is providing care for their loved one at home, they cannot gain additional income.  A balance must be struck.  For seniors who need support with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, transferring, eating, toileting, and continence), or have special health needs such as rehabilitation or ongoing medication, the balance is both personal and financial.  

Home health is a new class of senior care that fills the gap left by costlier assisted living and retirement options in today’s economy.  In 2009, the average monthly cost for assisted living services in Arizona was $3009 ($2595 in Phoenix and $3156 in Tucson).   On the other hand, a Home Health aide’s average hourly cost in Arizona was $23 ($28 in Phoenix and $19 in Tucson) in the same period.   Many home health aides are former nurses and home health specialists possessing additional medical training can be found in major metropolitan markets.

For a home-owner who is already struggling because of the housing market changes, one must determine how to afford the best care for a loved one or themselves.  If they stay in their home, they hold off on having to realize significant financial loss because of the housing market assuming they bought a home in the last seven years (if purchased before this, they may well break-even on the transaction).  This may lead a family to choose the service of a home health aide.  However, once a senior reaches over 4.3 hours a day of personal home health aide support on average, it becomes more economical to choose an assisted living community.

As the housing market downward trend flattens out and reverses itself in Arizona as it has in most of the country, Arizonians will need to be creative in the way they obtain care for themselves and loved ones.  Families will be more involved in the actually delivery of care and support, but ultimately, seniors will turn more to home health aides and ultimately assisted living settings to secure their health care peace-of-mind. 


In the latest news on foreclosures from http://www.realtytrac.com as of January, 2010









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