Assisted living costs are increasing across the country as more baby boomers are needing assistance and inflation increases. According to a recent study, a retiring couple today will need $285,000 in savings just to cover medical expenses. This doesn’t include the cost of living.
Classic retirement plans, a 401K, or social security may be an option for some, but according to AARP, more than 6.4 million seniors live below the poverty line.
The placement specialists at Senior Home Transitions work with seniors of all income levels to find the care they need at a price they can afford. This is a free service and very valuable to families due to the complexities of cost and available resources.
Factors that Determine the Cost of a Senior Living Community
It’s important to understand what goes into assisted living costs to ensure you’re getting what you pay for, and not overpaying for services or amenities you don’t need.
- Admission Fee/Entrance Fees: This is typically the first fee you’ll pay. Admission is similar to a nonrefundable security deposit usually between $500 and $5000.
- Assisted Facility Rent: The rent is the base price you pay simply for living in the residence. This may vary based on the size of the room.
- Cost of Living/Monthly Fees: The monthly fee is the cost of the staff, care, utilities, and other living expenses. Sometimes this is included in the rent, sometimes it is a separate charge.
- Healthcare Expenses: Any medical procedures, prescription medications, therapies, or treatments while in the facility are paid separately.
- Level of Care: This is the largest factor in assisted living costs. Physical or mental conditions that require extra care and attention require higher costs.
- Location: Senior care is no different than traditional real estate. Assisted living costs often fluctuate with the local real estate market.
- Types of Amenities Provided: Similar to a hotel resort, the more luxurious you want – the higher you’ll pay. A private balcony room with gourmet meals and private transportation will be significantly higher priced than a more traditional facility. Look for the flexibility to choose the amenities and services that are important to you.
Types of Senior Living and Their Costs
There are five main categories of senior living. Each one carries a different level of care, available services, and associated costs.
1. Independent Living
This is an adult community with either apartments or single-family homes. It provides an active community for seniors who are fully independent with minimal care required.
The cost typically ranges from $2000 to $6,000 per month.
Factors That Determine the Cost of Independent Living:
- Admission Fee and Entrance Deposit: To reserve your spot, you’ll often pay an admission fee and/or an entrance deposit. Sometimes these may be refundable, often they are not.
- Location of the Community: Currently in Kentucky, the average monthly cost is $2300. In other states, the rates may be significantly higher.
- Apartment or Home Size: An independent living community varies in cost the same as any other real estate home on the market. Size, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. will increase the cost.
- Personal Services: if you require any personal services such as grooming, bathing, laundry, or other household care that is not included. And may or may not be available, depending on the community.
- Pet Care: While pets may be welcome, there is often an additional charge for pet care.
- Carports: For covered parking spots near your home, you may pay an additional monthly fee.
- A Second Person Fee: If you have a spouse or child living with you, there is often a second-person fee between $500 and $1000 per month.
2. Assisted Living
Assisted living provides more care than independent living and is designed for adults who need care that cannot be scheduled. A private, one-bedroom residence in an assisted living facility is an average of $4,000 per month. Pricing is broken down into rent and services.
Factors That Determine the Cost of Assisted Living
- Location: Similar to real estate pricing, assisted living costs vary between states.
- Level of Care: For those who need assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) the cost may be higher than for more independent seniors.
- Amenities: Each facility is different and has different services, therapies, activities, and events. These all contribute to the assisted living costs.
- Entrance Fee: Sometimes called a community or move-in fee, this is typically between $500 and $5,000
- Programming and Activities: Certain things or activities such as concert tickets or field trips may have an additional cost.
- Floor Plans: You will often have your choice of a studio-style apartment vs. a one or two-bedroom apartment. These choices greatly affect the monthly cost.
3. Personal Care
Personal care facilities are there to help with ADLs (activities of daily living) for those who are unable to care for themselves as well as offer some medical oversight.
In general, monthly costs range from $3000 to $6,500. Available financial assistance depends on the state; however, many homes only accept private pay.
Factor That Determines the Cost of Personal Care
- Level of Care: The level of independence (or lack thereof) affects the costs associated with care and in turn, increases the cost to the resident.
- Location: The cost of the facility will reflect comparable costs of rent in the area.
- Amenities: Additional services or amenities will contribute to a higher monthly cost.
- Level of Specialization Required: If your loved one has additional medical needs that require specialized care, this level of care requires higher cost.
4. Memory Care
Memory care facilities typically have a higher cost of living due to the increased care required for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The average cost of memory care for a single resident is $4500 to $8,000 per month.
Factor That Determines the Cost of Memory Care
- Level of Care, Location & Amenities: Similar to other types of senior living, the cost will be affected by the level of care required, location and amenities.
- Required Service: Additional services like mealtime help, bathing, toileting, and dressing require a higher cost overall.
- Type of Unit: Within memory care facilities there are shared rooms, single rooms, and larger suites.
- Medical Support: Any type of treatment such as physical therapy or cognitive therapy add an additional cost but are usually paid by Medicare.
- Prescription Medications: Prescription medications are not included in the monthly costs.
- Personal Care Supplies: Personal care supplies including adult diapering materials are not included.
5. Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing care, it may be billed at a daily or monthly rate that covers room, board, meals, housekeeping, laundry, life enrichment activities, and transportation.
The monthly costs for skilled nursing care range from $7,650 for a semi-private room to $8,700 for a private room on average in the U.S.
Factor That Determines the Cost of Skilled Nursing
- Location: Skilled nursing care costs vary significantly by location. Kentucky boasts some of the most affordable rooms in the country.
- Type of Room: A private room is more expensive than a shared room.
- Long Term Stay: Long-term skilled nursing is billed at a monthly rate, that is typically paid for individually by residents.
- Short Term Stay: Short-term skilled nursing costs are usually covered by Medicare or private insurance. Medicare pays for up to 100 days of inpatient rehab if the senior meets the criteria.
- Level of Care: Those with complex medical needs and a higher level of care required to have higher monthly costs.
- Amenities: Any type of luxury amenities or additional services will cost more.
How To Pay for Senior Living
There are several ways to pay for senior living. The three most common are private pay, Medicare, Medicaid and VA benefits.
- Private Pay: This type of payment option is pretty straightforward. Private pay essentially uses money from personal savings or assets from either the aging adult or their children to pay for the monthly fees of any assisted living.
- VA: If you are a United States Veteran or the widow of a Veteran, you may qualify for Aid and Attendance financial assistance.
- Medicare: Medicare provides subsidized health care options for those over the age of 65 and is the primary health insurance provider for seniors in America, but it doesn’t cover assisted living.
- Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage to low-income individuals. Medicaid services and coverage vary greatly by state.
FAQs About Senior Living Cost