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March 2022

You’re young now. But here’s what will be on your mind when you’re old.

One of the chief concerns, as we get older, is whether we can afford long term care. For many, this means either a live-in nurse, or going to a nursing home. However, the prices may not be affordable to every Singaporean. Here’s how much you can expect to pay.

Published 07/03/2022 | Last Updated 71 days ago

You’re young now. But here’s what will be on your mind when you’re old.

 

The cost of going to a nursing home

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the average cost of staying in a nursing home, as of 2021, is around $2,000 to $3,600 per month before subsidies.

 

The subsidy you get depends on your income level, and citizenship:

 

Monthly Household Income

Singapore Citizen

Permanent Resident

$800 and below

80%

55%

$801 to $1,200

75%

50%

$1,201 to $1,900

60%

40%

$1,901 to $2,000

50%

30%

$2,001 to $2,800

30%

15%

$2,801 and above

0%

0%

 

For example, if the nursing home cost is $2,500 per month, and you are a Singapore Citizen, the subsidised cost would be $1,750 per month.

 

The exact cost for each nursing home varies. For example, NTUC Health Nursing Home costs around $2,000 to $3,500 before subsidies, while St. Andrew’s Nursing Home ranges between $1,500 to $2,500.

 

There are also private nursing homes which are not under MOH. There is no subsidy for these homes; and they have highly variable costs. For example, some private nursing homes that provide individual rooms can cost over $6,000 per month.

 

Note that these are just the base costs. Other medical needs, such as dialysis, therapy, and medication could add to the cost. 

 

How much does it cost for a live-in caregiver?

A live-in caregiver typically costs around $800 to $1,000 per month, depending on the agency you hire them from. More specialised or experienced caregivers (e.g. a caregiver specialised in handling advanced dementia patients) can cost more.

 

MOH provides a Home Caregiver Grant (HCG) of $200 per month, to offset the cost. However, you need to meet the following criteria to qualify:

 

●       You must be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident

●       You must have a parent, child, or spouse who is a Singapore Citizen

●       Your monthly household income, per person, must be $2,800 or less, or

●       The Annual Value (AV)* of your property is $13,000 or less

●       The patient must not already be in a long term care home (i.e., you cannot stack this grant with the nursing home subsidies above)

●       The patient must need help with at least three of the six Activities of Daily Living (ADL) - these are washing, dressing, toileting, transferring, feeding, and mobility

 

*You can check the AV of your property by contacting IRAS. In general, private properties will exceed the AV of $13,000.

 

This is for the cost of the caregiver only.

 

If we assume about $5 per meal and three meals per day, this is about $450 per month. We should also add around $50 per week ($200 per month), for leisure activities or the occasional indulgence (e.g. community centre workshops, buying gifts for grandchildren).

 

In total, this would be around $650 per month + ($800 per month for caregiver after HCG) = $1,450.

 

This is before accounting for medication, the cost of food and lodging for the caregiver, and costs such as therapy, ambulances, or dialysis. For most families, the cost of looking after a patient at home will come up to 1,900 to $2,500 per month. 

 

 

The scary costs of either option

 

As you can see, whether you choose to stay in a nursing home or live in your own home, there’s not much cost difference. Contrary to what some Singaporeans like to say, “I’ll just go live in a nursing home!” is not an easy solution.

 

For example, let’s say you choose to live at home, with a live-in caregiver, until the age of 90.

 

We know the cost is around $2,500 per month (we’ll take the higher estimate to be safe). Assuming you need care from the age of 80 to 90, this comes to a whopping $300,000...before the cost of medication and other treatments.

 

For a nursing home subsidised to $1,750 per month, this still comes to $210,000; probably not enough to make you feel relieved.

 

This is why it’s important to do three things:

●       Have a savings plan with a clear-cut retirement goal, to ensure you can pay for care when you stop working

●       Consider lifetime insurance coverage while you’re young and fit, and can still get them easily at low premiums

●       Have a conversation with your parents or children about your plans when you get older, so you can start putting together savings targets 

 

 

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