Long-term care costs and options

With a median daily cost of more than

With a median daily cost of more than $400 a day — about double the national average — Long Island is one of the most expensive places in the country for nursing home care, according to the 2013 "Cost of Care" study from Genworth Financial. (Credit: iStock )

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The average daily room rate for a hotel on Long Island in peak season is about $150. But that's a bargain compared to the daily cost for a room in a Long Island nursing home.

With a median daily cost of more than $400 a day -- about double the national average -- Long Island is one of the most expensive places in the country for nursing home care, according to the 2013 "Cost of Care" study from Genworth Financial. Genworth, a financial-services company that also sells long-term care insurance, has been doing the study for 10 years. Over the past decade, costs for nursing homes have risen sharply, surpassing inflation by a wide margin. "There's a clear trend in the facility-based care settings, meaning nursing homes and assisted living, that the costs are increasing at a pretty rapid clip," says Bob Bua, a Genworth vice president.

But there are some hopeful signs. Many older adults remember a time when an institution was the inevitable and only destination for sick or aged loved ones, even those who didn't need intensive, full-time care. Fortunately, there are more choices today. "It used to be only a nursing home or a hospital was an option," Bua says. "Now, you have assisted living as an option, you have home care as an option." In fact, home health care, which the vast majority of people say they prefer instead of a nursing home, has not increased in price as much as nursing-home care over the past decade. "There are a lot of mom-and-pop care agencies and national franchises," Bua says. "This keeps costs down because it's the nature of free competition." On Long Island, the average daily cost for a certified home-health aide in 2013 is $140, down slightly from last year.

Adult day health care is another possibility. This option can be a boon to a family caregiver who can drop off loved ones at a center where they will be supervised. Most adult day health care centers operate only on weekdays, making them a good choice for family caregivers who are still working. But keep in mind the definition -- and the cost -- of adult day health care varies widely. Some centers specialize in recreation and socialization, making them a good fit for seniors with minimal health problems. Other centers offer more intensive medical management. They charge more.

To access an interactive cost-of-care map where you can compare costs and also project how much care options will cost in the future, go to genworth.com/costofcare.

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