Balancing the cost of care

In our last blog post, we talked about the importance of talking to your aging parents about the future. The question of getting a carer could have come up as part of that conversation, and inevitably the cost of care, too.

In this post, we talk about some of the considerations to take into account when it comes to deciding on care. We also share some insights into the question of affordability & why it’s important to be financially prepared when it comes to care for our aging parents.


Many people are shocked at how much care can cost if they don’t have a plan prepared. Going into care blindly means you may end up paying too much over the long-term or they don’t get enough care at the beginning which can lead to a jump in costs when something goes wrong.


The cost of living in a residential home that includes meals, medical support and more can often range from R30,000 – R40,000 per month. But the reality is that financing full-time nursing in a frail care facility, for example, usually happens when our loved ones’ health has deteriorated to the point that there are very few options left. The fact is that there are a wide range of care options available to families which vary greatly in cost and quality.


A ‘little-and-often’ approach to care can cost as little as R2,000 a month for a regular companion visits, or R6,000 a month for care that’s more hands-on, most days - particularly for those whose minds are still sharp but whose strength isn’t what it used to be.


In comparison to the 30-40 thousand per month that you pay for frail care in a good old-age home, preventing the need for even 2 month’s intensive care by maintaining your parents’ health and independence longer will save enough for nearly a year’s regular homecare.

Discussing the cost of care can also be emotional for all parties involved – especially in today’s economy. Some families might readily pay for private education but are less willing to contribute to paying for care. Others simply might not have the means to finance care because it’s undeniable that affordability is tied to how much money is available.


From the onset, it’s vital to aim to have a calm, open discussion and approach the cost of care with realism and flexibility – there is always a plan that can be made between family, friends and a care agency that really wants to help.


Achieving affordability


*trigger warning* It might be a bitter pill to swallow but if you were expecting an inheritance, you may be reluctant to consider your parent’s savings as a means to pay for care. But a little money spent on ensuring the comfort, safety and dignity of your parents throughout their later life is money well spent if it avoids years of high costs.


Sharing the costs and the burdens among siblings and other relatives is another factor to consider when thinking about affordability. Although this can and often is a contentious issue for families, try to align on doing what is fair for all parties. This is also where a long-term approach helps – it’s easier to pay R1,500 a month each for 5 years than it is to pay R10,000 a month for 9 months even though it’s the same amount.


Remember that there is always a cheaper alternative. But there’s always a trade off when it comes to the quality of care your loved one receives. Carers who are well trained, passionate about the Elderly and fairly compensated for their work are far more likely to provide quality care. If care is ‘too cheap’ it should be a red flag for ending up with disengaged carers which can lead to other problems such as neglect and theft.


Early intervention


The cost of care will change over time. The total cost over time will also depend on whether you intervened early or experienced a sudden decline and had to move straight to a higher intensity care for extended periods. Invest early.


Your parents may not want to move into a retirement home. They may not be thinking about care at all if they are still relatively active & healthy.


But the truth is that having another person you can rely on to be around for life’s tough days, keeping an eye on medicines and meals, and providing extra social contact – even on an occasional basis – can extend the period that your parents can live independently without spending a lot on care.


This in contrast to waiting until an accident, emergency or something preventable pushes them into needing full-cost, full-time care earlier than they or their budget are prepared for.


Tips for managing the cost of care:

  1. Don't fear the cost of care; focus on the needs of the people to maintain happy, dignified lives, and end of lives without unnecessary suffering or anxiety.

  2. Get expert advice from care managers to understand the types of care available to you as well as the opportunities for both improving your loved one’s quality of life and keeping costs affordable.

  3. Choose a reputable agency who offers tailored care and can place the right caregivers for your circumstances.

At the CareCompany, we understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with helping your parents choose the right kind of care. We are committed to finding ways to make care work for our dear Elderly clients and their families. For more about care at home for your loved ones, contact CareCompany on gethelp@carecompany.co.za.


More stories

Find out more

Knowing that someone cares about you is a basic human need that is important to your health and happiness.

We are also the children and siblings of aging loved-ones and understand many of the challenges you may be facing.

Costs are often front of mind - we strike the right balance to deliver the best quality care without costs running away

CareCompany is a registered NPO. Our mission is to care and be of service to others in our communities.