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Paying for Senior Care: 5 Creative Tips

Written by Rebecca Schier-Akamelu
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated March 29, 2023

If you’ve looked into senior care, you’ve probably read about Medicaid, VA programs, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance, and life insurance policies as options to cover care costs. And if you’re just looking into how to finance your loved one’s care, that’s a great starting point. Still, you’ll likely wonder if you’re doing all you can to save money as you consider how long your parent may need help. What you do next depends on your comfort level, but you may have other options available if you think outside the box.

Key Takeaways

  1. Senior care may be more expensive than you realize. A semi-private room in a nursing home is more expensive than the average median income.
  2. Family agreements offer a way to save money and provide a clear path for family members to be reimbursed. You can be paid from your loved one’s estate if you work as their caregiver.
  3. Estate sales may help you find some unexpected funds if your loved one is selling their home. Many companies can help sell a home's contents over the course of a few days.
  4. If your loved one doesn’t mind sharing some personal information, you may have some luck finding additional money through crowd funding. It may be especially helpful when dealing with unexpected and pricey care needs.

How to pay for senior care

Paying for senior care is a hot topic — because so many Americans have reached the age when they need care and because care is so costly. The 2021 median cost of US nursing home care (in a semi-private room) was $94,896 [01] — much higher than the national median household income of $70,784.[02] While by no means exhaustive, you can use these tips to help finance your loved one’s care.

Bridge loan

Selling your home can pay for a lot of care, but there can be roadblocks. Care needs may arise before your house is market-ready, or you may be selling into a slow market. In such cases, if you have a strong credit history you may qualify for a bridge loan. This is an interest-only instrument that covers the cost of your senior care before your home sells; then the loan is paid back with proceeds from the sale.[03]

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Estate sale

If you’re selling your home to move to a senior living community, you may be tempted to put your surplus belongings in storage for later. This costs money and almost always leaves loved ones with the task of sorting things while they’re grieving. An estate sale may be a better choice. You can hire an estate sale agency (ideally before you sell your home so they can stage the items for buyers) or let family members select items in exchange for coordinating the sale. Unless you’re a world-class collector, an estate sale won’t fund all your care needs but it will free up cash and can save you the cost of storage.

Family agreement

If you have adult children who are willing to help, a written family agreement can help keep the cost of care in the family and avoid disputes. Medicaid, the VA Aid & Attendance program, and some long-term care policies allow you to pay relatives the market rate for caregiving. You should prepare written arrangements to outline the care you need.
Another way to use a written agreement is when your adult children are contributing to your care with money, time, or a combination of both. Outline everyone’s assistance and ask your parent to set up their estate to settle things fairly and prevent sibling quarrels after their passing. Consult with an estate planning attorney for more details.

Benefits Checkup

Benefits CheckUp from the National Council on Aging is one of the most complete resource tools we’ve seen. Do a quick survey or a detailed questionnaire to get a list of medical, long-term care, housing, and utility programs you may qualify for, along with links to each program. It takes just a few minutes and some basic income and expense information to see what’s available for you or a family member.

Talk with a Senior Care Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Crowd funding

This one’s for people who don’t mind sharing their situation online. Fundraising sites like GoFundMe let you post your story, set a fundraising goal, and request donations from friends, neighbors, and anyone else who sees your page. People can and do set up pages on GoFundMe and similar sites to raise money for long-term care. These sites charge a percentage of the donations as a user fee — usually around 5% of the total you raise.

Additional resources

If you can’t use the tips outlined above, or simply want more support in search for senior care, reach out to one of our Senior Care Advisors for more guidance. At no cost to you, they can help you find senior care that fits your preferences and budget. Whether you want to learn how to pay for in-home senior care or are considering moving to an assisted living community, you’ll have several options to choose from.


  1. Genworth. (2021). Cost of care survey.

  2. Semega, J., & Kollar, M. (2022, September 13). Income in the United States: 2021. United States Census Bureau.

  3. Treece, K. (2020, August 12). Is a bridge loan right for you? Forbes.com.

Meet the Author
Rebecca Schier-Akamelu

Rebecca Schier-Akamelu is a writer at OurParents. Her writing supports a person-centered approach to senior care and she’s written on a range of topics from home care to finances. She holds a certificate in digital media and marketing from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University.

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