If you or a loved one is heading to an age where assisted living might have to become an option, you may find yourself wondering about the cost. For most seniors and their family members, this is probably the most important factor that plays into assisted living decisions.
And understandably so. Assisted living costs aren’t always cheap. But the reality is that it’s actually your most affordable option when it comes to long-term care. While monthly rates vary widely, assisted living costs come in far cheaper than those of nursing homes and in-home caregiving.
So, what can you expect to pay, anyway? This blog breaks down all the fundamentals for you.
Assisted Living Costs: Here’s What To Expect
If you’re totally unfamiliar with the cost of assisted living, it might come as a shock to learn about pricing. It may even seem overwhelming at first. But it’s important to bear in mind that these costs vary on a wide scale. They are affected by the level of care, amenities, your zip code, and more.
According to a recent survey conducted by Genworth, the average cost of assisted living in America sits at around $4,000 per month. Annually, you’re looking at $48,000. But, as mentioned, this amount can vary and is just an average figure.
Let’s put these costs into perspective for you. In comparison, placing a loved one in a nursing home could cost you an average of $8,000 for a private room per month. An in-home, full-time caregiver will cost you nothing less than $4,000 per month, based on a 40-hour week. But that doesn’t include food, medication, transport, and other costs too.
So, in summary, assisted living is most likely the affordable option you’d end up going for, anyway.
Level of Care and Pricing
When you are looking for an assisted living facility, the pricing structure will depend on the level of care your loved one needs. So, if a senior is still quite independent and doesn’t need specialized care, you can expect to pay a far lower fee.
However, a senior that requires assistance with simple activities of daily living (ADLs) will require more care. Naturally, this would result in paying a bit more.
If a senior’s care needs change during their time in an assisted living facility, the cost will change accordingly. Here’s how a facility assesses levels of care:
- Each facility’s level of care varies, but most of them include basic guidelines of care, based on a points system
- There is a no-cost-of-care fee if a senior is independent enough and doesn’t require daily assistance
- If a senior only requires verbal instruction for ADLs, a no-cost-of-care fee also applies
- If a senior does require care, they are assessed before moving in, and pricing is set according to their needs
Some of the most common ADLs that a resident might need help with include bathing and clothing, mobility, continence, eating, medication needs, laundry, and dementia care. In short, the more care your loved one needs, the more you can expect to pay.
Looking for a touch of expert advice on how to choose the best facility to suit your budget? Check out this link: https://meadowthorpe.com/assisted-living-the-ultimate-guide/.
Additional Cost Factors To Keep In Mind
Aside from how much care a senior needs in assisted living, there are other physical factors of a facility that play into the cost. Some of the most common include:
The same concept applies to when you buy or rent a house. The cost of assisted living depends on square footage, the number of rooms they offer, bathing facilities, the view, and community location.
For this reason, you want to make sure that you review each facility’s floor plan before you make a decision. You need to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. Also, reviewing different floor plans can help you to better manage your expectations.
You may end up paying a little more if your loved one is not keen on sharing a bedroom and wants their privacy — each to their own. However, if they are open to having a roommate, this can save on costs.
Many assisted living facilities offer two-bedroom apartment-style living spaces. By sharing this space, you could save 10-20 percent on costs. There are also other benefits to sharing a room. Your loved one has a social companion they can bond with, which is sometimes a better living option for many seniors.
Ratio of Residents-to-Staff
This is often a key factor that can impact the cost of assisted living. Obviously, the staff play a huge role in the overall care that a facility offers and your loved one’s wellbeing. But bear in mind that the more concentrated the care at a facility, the greater the cost.
The Region You Live In
It’s understandable that you’d want your loved one to live in a facility that’s close to home. That way, you can pop in on a regular basis and check on them, giving you unbeatable peace of mind. Also, you might want to avoid the slog of moving them to another state, changing doctors, switching shopping and exercise locations, etc.
If you can change as little about a senior’s routine as possible, the better the transfer to assisted living. However, changing towns could have a major impact on the cost of assisted living and could you save thousands each month.
Even if it’s just an hour’s relocation outside of your home city/town, it can make a difference. So this is something you want to carefully consider.
How To Pay For Assisted Living: 5 Helpful Options
With all of the above information in mind, you may find yourself wondering how on earth you’re going to afford assisted living at all. You’re not alone and there are options at your disposal. Some of them include:
If your loved one is a U.S. veteran they could be legible for residential care coverage, but these circumstances apply:
- They have a service-related injury, disability, or illness — their benefits could contribute towards assisted living coverage
- If your loved one (or their spouse’s) income is below a certain amount, they could qualify for Aid and Assistance benefits
If you want to look into these benefits and whether your loved one qualifies, you’ll have to contact the Veteran’s Administration. Or, you could hire the help of a geriatric planner, familiar with the veteran’s benefits system.
If your loved one holds a life insurance policy, you could look into amending the policy to suit ”living benefits”. Basically, this means that the insurer buys back the policy for most of its face value, then amends it to suit your loved one’s financial needs.
However, this depends on their monthly premiums, age, and health status. In some cases, a life insurance policy may not cover living benefits if a senior is not terminally ill. But, most policies are far more flexible than this.
Generally, you’re not alone when trying to establish a safe and comfortable future for an aging loved one. Whether you’re a spouse, child, or grandchild, there are other family members who might be willing to help and chip in too.
It’s important to call a family meeting and have a discussion about the option of assisted living and the costs involved. This is so that everyone is on the same page about the reality of costs. It’s then important to talk about pooling your resources, assets, and time.
You could split up the monthly cost between siblings, or other family members willing to help. This could really help to lighten the financial load. If you feel like this could be a difficult or tense discussion, consider using a mediator to help with the discussion.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Then there’s also the option of long-term care insurance which your loved one might have already purchased a few years ago. In general, this is your best-case scenario. Long-term insurance care applies to all forms of assisted living cover.
The only thing you need to know is how long the insurance terms extend and how to collect your loved one’s benefits. You’ll find that some policies also include a specific benefit for nursing home care, but it can also be used for assisted living. However, this depends on the physical and mental diagnosis of your loved one.
Your loved one might have purchased an annuity a while ago, or this is an option you could also consider. An annuity includes the purchase of a lump sum amount, which then pays out scheduled payments over a set period. Most of the time, this period covers the rest of your living years, or that of your loved one, in this case.
This is a great option to help you maximize or stretch your savings. It also ensures you have some form of income to fall back on to help you cover assisted living costs. An added benefit of an annuity is that it doesn’t count as an asset when you’re seeking out government assistance, too.
Health and Lifestyle Hacks a Plenty
When it comes to covering assisted living costs it’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone. There are resources that can help. It’s just about looking in the right place and not being afraid to reach out for assistance if you or a loved one needs it.
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