When you’re first faced with assisted living costs, it can seem overwhelming. What are you actually paying for? Are you paying too much compared to others receiving similar services? Let’s look more closely at what makes up those assisted living costs.
When Assisted Living Costs Can Seem Surprising
Health crises often sneak up on families without warning, forcing them to deal with a fall, stroke, or dementia diagnosis when they weren’t prepared for it. Particularly if families haven’t planned or lack long-term insurance, they may be looking at covering most of the costs on their own.
Of course, finding the best place for yourself or your loved one is worth it. Keep in mind that costs do differ depending on the individual assisted living community and the services they offer. That’s why it’s important to shop around if you can to find the community that best meets your loved one’s needs.
The Three Biggest Factors Affecting Assisted Living Costs
In general, three main factors affect how much it will cost for you or a loved one to stay in an assisted living community.
1. Level of Care
A senior who is mostly independent and only needs a little help will likely pay less than one who needs much more care in terms of personal care and medical treatments.
For active older adults who require little daily assistance, the costs may range from $1,400 to $4,000 per month. For those who want a private room but need more help with personal care and health services, the costs usually start at about $4,000 per month and go up from there.
Where you live affects not only home prices but assisted living costs too. The real estate market values in your area play a role in the cost because essentially, you’re paying for rent at the assisted living community.
States like Alaska and New Jersey, for instance, are likely to have higher assisted living costs than states like Arkansas or Missouri.
This is perhaps the one factor of the three where you have the most control over the costs. You can go for the luxury accommodations with a variety of amenities such as gourmet meals, tennis courts, spa, concierge, and transportation services, but you’ll likely pay more for those. Having a spouse or pet with you will also cost more.
On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, you may be able to choose a smaller room with fewer add-on services to save money. Some assisted living communities are more flexible than others in this regard. Some charge an all-inclusive monthly fee, whereas others will charge a standard fee for room and board, then bill extra for services on an as-used basis.
Other Factors Affecting Assisted Living Costs
According to the 2021 Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, the average assisted living costs are $4,500 per month. That’s an average across the nation. Costs may be higher or lower in your state.
Other factors affecting costs in the facility may include:
- Floor Plans: Square footage, number of rooms and bathrooms, location within the community, and availability of rooms are all calculated into the price. If you or your loved one is okay with having a roommate, the costs may be significantly lower. Ask to see floor plans for the community’s rooms or units to determine what accommodations meet your needs at a cost you can afford.
- Staff-to-Resident Ratio: How many residents are there per staff member? Having more staff members is likely to increase the quality of care, but it can also increase costs.
- Move-in Date: Like any business, assisted living communities have to manage financial pressures, budgetary considerations, supply and demand, and more. Waiting to move in may help lower your monthly payment or result in financial perks, depending on what the assisted living community is facing at that time.
- Cost of Living: The cost of living in your area will affect the costs. This is tied in with your location.
How to Pay for Assisted Living Costs
You and/or your family may be concerned about being able to cover assisted living costs. Keep in mind that in most cases, Medicare usually doesn’t pay for assisted living. If you or your loved one receive Social Security, you can use those funds to help with assisted living costs, but it won’t cover the full cost.
Most residents, therefore, must find other ways to pay. They may pull from their own financial resources or seek help from their adult children.
For more assistance, try these resources:
- Long-Term Care Insurance: If you or a loved one purchased this type of insurance, it should apply to assisted living care. Check with your insurance provider. Realize that this needs to have been purchased before—once the person is ready to move in, it’s too late to get this type of coverage.
- State Programs: Some states offer home and community-based waivers to help low-income residents afford assisted living.
- Veteran’s Benefits: These can help cover residential care if you, your loved one, or a spouse has service-related injuries or disabilities, or if their income is below a given amount. Check with your Veteran’s Administration representative for more details and to determine eligibility.
- Life Insurance: Life insurance policies may be an option to pay for assisted living if needed. Based on the premium and the policyholder’s age and health, the company may buy back the policy for 50-75 percent of its value. Check with the insurance company for more information.
- Renting or Selling the Home: If the person considering moving into assisted living owns a home and no one else lives there, selling or renting the home may be an option to secure more income.
- Medicaid: If the individual doesn’t have much in terms of savings or financial assets and their income is low—in other words, they’re pretty much drained, financially—they may qualify for Medicaid, which can help pay for assisted living. Look up your state’s program online for more information, as eligibility varies by state. Keep in mind too that only some assisted living communities will accept Medicaid, and there can be many barriers to getting qualified.
Given the various factors that can impact assisted living costs, it’s difficult to offer an accurate prediction of the potential costs for an older adult. However, considering the average cost of assisted living in your state will give you a good idea of what to expect, but keep in mind that these costs may be significantly higher or lower at some assisted living communities.
Families who want the peace of mind of knowing that their loved one’s needs will be met even if their care needs change should consider a continuing care retirement community like Arbors of Hop Brook. Offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and memory care on the same campus, your loved one can remain in the place she’s come to call home no matter what care she may require in the coming years. Browse our floor plans or take a virtual tour to learn more, then schedule an in-person tour when you’re ready to explore all that Arbors of Hop Brook has to offer.