Moving into an assisted living facility isn’t always straightforward or easy. This may involve leaving behind loved ones and the place you called home for many years. To make the transition smooth, picking the right assisted living community is essential and can have a positive impact on a senior’s quality of life.
- When to Move from Living Independently to Assisted Living
- How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
- What Is Included in Assisted Living Costs?
- Breakdown of Assisted Living Costs
- How to Pay for Assisted Living
- What is the average cost of assisted living in the United States?
- How much is the monthly cost for assisted living?
- What is the least expensive state for assisted living in the United States?
- What is the most expensive state for assisted living in the United States?
- Does insurance pay for assisted living?
- What is included in assisted living costs?
When to Move from Living Independently to Assisted Living
There are tell-tale signs that signal it’s time to shift from independent or home care to an assisted living facility – or other senior living communities. These signs don’t directly relate to age but how you handle daily activities and your health status.
Some signs that indicate it’s time to talk with a family member about moving into assisted living include:
- Poor memory or dementia
- Trouble keeping up with finances or
- Bruises or scratches from falling over
- Difficulty maintaining personal hygiene
- Trouble managing household tasks / cleaning
- Social isolation
- Forgetting to take prescribed medication
The notion of moving from independent living to assisted living can be intimidating or overwhelming to seniors. But there comes a time when moving into a senior care community is beneficial for the physical and emotional well being of an elderly individual.
An assisted living community can help seniors overcome boredom, isolation, and depression. Assisted living providers often provide social activities which are helpful in re-building community for seniors who have had a shrinking social life. The increased social connections and participating in activities on a regular basis are helpful for emotional health and intellectual stimulation.
Luckily, assisted living communities, as well as other long-term care facilities for the older adults, offer lots of activities to residents. Often you’ll find activities such as poker tournaments, book clubs, communal gardens, sewing projects, movie nights, and music classes.
Assisted living facilities offer safety-related benefits to seniors. You’ll find flat thresholds, ramps, walk-in showers, raised toilets, and similar features. Alarm systems are functional, and security personnel is always present.
Assisted living communities also provide quality healthcare.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
In 2020, the average monthly cost of assisted living was $4,300. Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey1 projects this cost will rise to $4,429 in 2021. That said, the exact price depends on the assisted living facility and the services you require.
Related: How to Pay For Assisted Living
What Is Included in Assisted Living Costs?
While most prices include typical living expenses, very few assisted living facilities charge an all-inclusive price. Instead, most facilities charge a la carte for additional caregiver support and medical care on top of the monthly rent.
It’s almost impossible to determine the exact total cost of assisted living. The average price should be close to $4,000 per month. The amount could be higher depending on the extra care you receive and the monthly base fee.
If additional services are needed, such as medical care, physical therapy, wound care, wellness programs, etc, these are typically additional one time or monthly expenses. Some assisted living facilities provide these services while others refer residents to outside providers for these services.
A One-Time Upfront Fee
Many assisted living facilities charge a reservation deposit, an upfront fee, or a community fee. These charges often range from $1,000 to $10,000 but could be significantly higher or lower depending on the facility.
A Monthly Base Fee
This fee equates to the monthly rent you pay when occupying a residential unit. The cost depends on the apartment size and whether it’s a shared or private room. It is not uncommon for these figures could be as high as $8,000 or as low as $800. The location of the assisted living facility, amenities and care provided can all push this monthly cost to the higher end of this scale – or even higher. This monthly rent usually covers maintenance on the unit, nutritious meals, and basic housekeeping.
Monthly Care Services Fee
Assisted living facilities charge this fee based on the level of care you need. The care level is divided into tiers based on the number of activities of daily living (ADLs).
It’s a common practice among assisted living facilities to provide medication management services at an extra fee. The cost of this monthly service depends on the intricacies of medicine administration.
Breakdown of Assisted Living Costs
Several things impact the cost of assisted living. The most obvious is the type of community. A luxury community will undoubtedly charge a higher fee than a regular community while some assisted living communities are built to be more affordable options.
The cost will also depend on:
- The level of care
- Your location
Level of Care
The level of care refers to the amount of help a senior requires to tackle daily activities (ADLs). Some of these activities include:
- Personal hygiene – Grooming, oral care, and skincare
- Functional mobility – Walking, transferring in and out of bed
Most assisted living facilities provide three levels of care, but some offer up to five levels. Here’s a breakdown of these tiers.
Level 1: Low Level of Care
This level suits independent seniors who need minimal assistance. They may need reminders to take medication, but they can perform most of their ADLs.
In general, seniors don’t require strict supervision to carry out basic activities. The monthly care cost for this level is low.
Level 2: Moderate Level of Care
Seniors at this level require substantial help in their personal care or health care regimens. They may independently perform certain activities like feeding but may need help in other activities.
Typical areas of support may include dressing, bathing, and medication management. This care suits seniors with slight mobility impairments.
The cost of care at this level is slightly higher than the cost in level 1.
Level 3: High Level of Care
This level serves seniors with severe cognitive or physical impairment. These seniors require extensive, regular assistance to carry out their daily tasks.
They need help with multiple ADLs like using the restroom, eating, dressing, and moving around. Seniors in this level might also require assistance taking medication and other ancillary services.
The monthly cost of tier 3 assisted living care can be several thousand dollars.
Memory care requires specialized staff and more resources. It might cost 20-30% more than other assisted living care plans.
The type of accommodation you prefer will also influence the cost of an assisted living residence. The price of an apartment in these communities depends on:
- Square footage
- Proximity to amenities
- The floor
- Number of rooms
Some assisted living facilities offer shared spaces as a way to provider lower cost assisted living options. Sharing space is potentially a good way to lower your monthly base fee if sharing personal space is acceptable.
The average rental costs in assisted living communities range from $800 to about $8000. Beware, some facilities may charge an additional fee for apartment preparation.
The location of an assisted living facility significantly impacts the monthly fees it charges. You’ll undoubtedly pay more if you live in an urban facility than a suburban or rural facility.
Changing states can also affect the monthly cost of assisted living. Below are the average annual costs (private one-bedroom) of the most expensive states:
- Delaware – $80,280
- New Hampshire – $79,800
- New Jersey – $79,800
- Alaska – $79,596
- Massachusetts – $73,020
You will incur less assisted living costs if you live in the following least expensive states for assisted living::
- Missouri – $36,000
- Alabama – $37,800
- Arkansas – $42,000
- Georgia – $42,000
- Nevada – $43,140
You can save about $44,280 per year by shifting from a Delaware assisted living facility to Missouri.
How to Pay for Assisted Living
There are several financial options you can use to pay for assisted living. Unfortunately, Medicare isn’t one of them.
Medicaid does foot some of the cost for medical expenses associated with assisted living. However, it doesn’t cover the monthly base fee facilities charge. It’s advisable to go through your state’s Medicaid program to determine which assisted living service it covers.
Besides Medicaid, (and social security) you can use the following financial alternatives to pay for assisted living.
Related: Does Medicare Pay for Assisted Living
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) is a private insurance firm policy that pays for long-term care, including assisted living. Most of the insurance companies charge a monthly premium of $250-$1,500 for a long-term care insurance policy.
Related: How much does Long-term Care Insurance Cost?
LTCI only works if you already have the policy in place. You won’t acquire this insurance if you’re past a certain age (it is usually a good idea to apply for LTCI before you are 60)or have frail health.
Related: Is Assisted Living Covered by Long Term Care Insurance?
You can cash out your life insurance and use the lump sum to cover your assisted living cost. In such cases, a third party acquires your life policy in exchange for cash payment. The third-party will receive full policy benefits when you pass on.
Renting out Your House
What happens to your home after you move into an assisted living facility? A common approach for financing assisted living costs is to rent out your home and use the cash to offset the cost of assisted living if the mortgage is already paid off.
It is important to factor in property taxes and maintenance costs into how much income renting out your house will generate. You also have to deal with a temporary cash shortage if a tenant suddenly vacates.
Seniors who own homes can convert part of their home’s equity into cash. To use this option, you need to be married, and your spouse has to reside in your home.
Army veterans and their spouses might be eligible for the veterans’ programs for assisted living. The most relevant program is a pension named Aid and Attendance Benefit (A&A).
A&A is a monthly pension that you can use to cover long-term care needs. The program pays up to $1,936 per month for single veterans and about $2,295 for married veterans.
What is the average cost of assisted living in the United States?
The average cost of assisted living in the US is $51,600 per year. Factors such as location, additional services chosen, and level of care required can cause the cost of assisted living to differ from this national average.
How much is the monthly cost for assisted living?
Assisted living costs $4,300 per month in the United States, but can vary widely based on care and support services required.
What is the least expensive state for assisted living in the United States?
The least expensive state for assisted living in the US is Missouri. A one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility costs about $3,000 per month.
What is the most expensive state for assisted living in the United States?
The most expensive state for assisted living is Delaware. A one-bedroom assisted living apartment costs $6,690 per month.
Does insurance pay for assisted living?
Most insurance policies don’t cover assisted living. But you can pay for an assisted living using a Long-Term Care Insurance policy and life insurance, among other financial strategies.
What is included in assisted living costs?
Assisted living costs typically include room and board, and may include some social activities. Additional care, help with activities of daily living, outings, and other additions are not included.