The True Cost of Assisted Living for Your Aging Loved Ones

We get it. The cost of assisted living usually comes out of the blue, and with a bigger price tag than expected.

Or is it?

The truth is, there are many large expenses that assisted living will actually REMOVE from your plate…expenses that also cost you time- and as we all know- time is money.

Here we’ll show you the true cost of assisted living, and how it might just be lower that you expected.

A Fresh Outlook That Saves You Money

We’ve all heard the term “count the cost.” It encourages us to look at the facts, examine all angles, and get a full picture of what we may be signing up for.

Decisions have consequences, and good consequences can come from decisions made with:

  • Research
  • Planning
  • Insight

When it comes to assisted living, planning ahead will allow plenty of time to get all the information to make the best decision possible. So even if you think that assisted living might be miles down the road, now is the best time to get the information, make a plan, and make the decision.

Think about it. Counting the cost doesn’t simply refer to assessing a monetary value. There are many other things in your life that require a “cost.” We don’t simply pay in dollars, we also pay in our time, our health, or even in our relationships.

So when you count the cost for senior care, it doesn’t only affect your bank account; it involves your time, your health, and the wellbeing and relationships of your family.

For instance, it could easily seem most cost effective to keep your loved one at home instead of paying for an assisted living facility wouldn’t it?

But here’s the reality. Taking care of the senior you love may fall heavily on you (or another family member) and end up costing you more than you anticipated in your own health and time.

And your well being isn’t all that’s at risk. If your loved one actually requires more experienced care than you’re able to offer, more health issues may arise, which will end up costing their health, and your bank.

It’s the same concept as buying cheap processed food versus more pricey health foods.What you save now by buying junk-food, you’ll pay later – and greater – in medical bills.

So as you are calculating the true cost of assisted living for your location and situation, don’t forget to asses the non-monetary factors as well.

Choose the option that is best for your loved one and everyone involved – including yourself.

That being said, the fact of the matter is money remains a huge factor in all of our decisions, and it often holds the greatest sway. There’s no denying that it can be a real issue when it comes to finding the right living situation for the one you love, but there are ways to be prepared and make educated decisions that will save you money.

Here is some valuable information that may help you out in your process.

Let the Location Cut Your Costs

It helps to have an idea of how much assisted living costs across the country.

As with any housing rates, you’ll find that location can play a huge role on the price of assisted living. Getting a look at the prices of assisted living depending on the state may help you find the most cost-effective option for your loved one and your family.

We understand. Keeping them close may be a priority.

But have you thought about this?

Relocating them closer to family members in another state with lower costs may save you both money – and at the same time – provide them the chance to be near family they haven’t yet had the opportunity to get close to.

Here’s a useful tool: Genworth released a helpful 2016 Cost of Care spreadsheet to show the average prices of care in each US state, with most states averaging around 3,628.

Use this excerpt to easily cross-reference the average cost in each state:

LOCATION
USA ­— National $3,628
Alabama $2,900
Alaska $5,750
Arizona $3,500
Arkansas $3,133
California $4,000
Colorado $4,063
Connecticut $4,950
Delaware $5,368
District of Columbia $6,700
Florida $3,045
Georgia $2,850
Hawaii $4,125
Idaho $3,200
Illinois $3,898
Indiana $3,528
Iowa $3,518
Kansas $3,863
Kentucky $3,300
Louisiana $3,155
Maine $4,991
Maryland $3,750
Massachusetts $5,463
Michigan $3,563
Minnesota $3,200
Mississippi $3,200
Missouri $2,537
Montana $3,513
Nebraska $3,510
Nevada $3,050
New Hampshire $4,800
New Jersey $4,950
New Mexico $3,600
New York $4,136
North Carolina $3,000
North Dakota $3,340
Ohio $3,600
Oklahoma $2,803
Oregon $4,065
Pennsylvania $3,600
Rhode Island $4,931
South Carolina $3,000
South Dakota $3,370
Tennessee $3,780
Texas $3,515
Utah $2,950
Vermont $4,860
Virginia $3,950
Washington $4,500
West Virginia $3,263
Wisconsin $3,934
Wyoming $3,995

How the Facility Absorbs Your Extra Expenses

If you look at the whole spreadsheet, you’ll see that assisted living options generally cost much less than a nursing home- costing as little as half the price!

While it may appear that caregiver services are around the same cost as assisted living, they are actually much more.

Let’s look at why.

Many people take a look at the monthly payment for assisted living and consider it a high price to pay, but usually they are simply comparing it to their rent or mortgage payment.

But here’s the truth: Assisted living facilities include the cost of housing, food, utilities, and basic health services, while caregiver costs only include the care services rendered.

If you added the cost of your housing payment, groceries and utilities onto the price of the caregiver, you get a much larger number than what is listed on the Genworth cost of care spreadsheet.

So here’s the good news: Assisted living facilities provide a wide variety of services and include many expenses that you are currently paying for your loved one on a daily basis.

Look at it this way: Quicken estimates that an average American will spend about 2,110 each month on their budget, but this doesn’t include costly caregiver services, which average in the 3,800 range monthly. So an average monthly budget for one person, on top of caregiver services, would actually add up to close to 6,000 which is almost twice as much as what you’ll pay for an assisted living arrangement.

What the Facility Cost Includes

So what does an assisted living facility usually include?

While the list obviously varies depending on the location and company, most assisted living facilities offer these services and amenities:

  • An apartment unit (studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, memory care)
  • Customizable care plans
  • 24 hour staff to assist with daily needs
  • A nurse on staff or on call
  • Three meals a day in a community dining area (sometimes available in-room)
  • Easy-access bathrooms and showers
  • Kitchenettes for self-prepared meals and snacks
  • An emergency alert system for urgent assistance needs
  • Programs for continued learning and growth
  • Amenities such as a computer room, library, movie room
  • Outdoor recreation areas
  • Laundry and trash services
  • Private event rooms for special family celebrations
  • Access for family and friends to visit and join in meals and activities

Services that may require an added fee are:

  • Group outings and social activities
  • Transportation options
  • Errand-running services
  • Visiting therapists and physicians

Tricks for Keeping Facility Costs Low

If the cost is a real issue you are facing, there are a few different factors you can consider while choosing the facility:

Size of Accommodation

Here’re some things to consider: Does your loved one need a large unit, or will a smaller space suit them just fine? As mobility becomes more difficult, having a smaller space may actually be easier to get around.

Think about unnecessary features: Perhaps something like a balcony may seem like an appealing detail, but when you put more thought into it, it may not actually be something your loved one will utilize on a regular basis. These types of unit features might increase the cost of the apartment.

It’s helpful to remember: The entire facility becomes a home for your loved one, so community game rooms, patios, walkways, dining rooms- and more -will be at their disposal whenever they like.

Number of Extra Services

Most facilities have base services and amenities that come with their rate, such as meals, health monitoring, on-site activities, and those listed above.

However, extra services like therapy sessions, salon services, personal transportation, and ambulatory services might bring extra fees.

Most facilities also charge a deposit that will hold a unit prior to move-in, and a community fee that will cover move-in costs and renovations to the apartment between residents.

And this is a good rule to keep in mind: Always make sure you get a clear description of what is included in the base rate, and what would be considered an added fee.

Avoid Surprise Costs

Sit down and assess the types of extra services your loved one will likely require, and properly budget them in.

Top Ways to Pay for Assisted Living

Most people pay for assisted living from family money and personal funds, but sometimes these types of savings just aren’t available.

There are several different routes to explore when looking for ways to help finance your loved one’s assisted living costs:

Long-Term Care Insurance

If you’re starting your preparation far in advance, a great option is long term care insurance.

Here’s why: This insurance is a supplement to what Medicare will not provide, such as long-term care, but you’ll need to start paying into it long before it’s needed. The best option is to start paying in as early as possible. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a 55 year old will spend over 700 a year on a policy if they’re married, and over 1,000 if they’re single.

Medicaid

While Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for any long term assistance facilities, Medicaid does cover some assisted living services in many states, though the terms of eligibility and amount of coverage vary.

That’s not all. There is also the Senior Assisted Living Housing Waiver which provides the option of a community assisted living setting to eligible low income adults.

Housing Subsidies

Seniors with an annual income under 12,000 may be qualified to receive section 8 senior housing subsidies, which can be used to help pay for assisted living facilities costs.

Converting Life Insurance

Life Care Funding Group assists people in converting life insurance policies into financing for assisted living and long-term benefit plans.

Veteran Subsidies

The Department of Veterans Affairs has facilities that offer senior care to Veterans depending on availability of space.

The True Pay Off

We all want to give the best that can be offered for our loved ones.

Assisted living can open up their lives to social interaction with others their age, get them consistent attention from trained staff, and alleviate stress and tension between family members who simply aren’t equipped for the task of being a caregiver.

Not only that, but in an community of other individuals who are in the same season of life, they can find encouragement to continue to engage in things that interest them, and conversations that stimulate their imaginations.

You might still be wondering: Will my loved one ever feel comfortable about the transition?

In assisted living, with everyone at a similar pace of life, and staff to help with burdensome tasks, life will soon find a steady pattern that will make this season of life just as fruitful as all of the seasons before.

So what’s the bottom line?

If you plan ahead, count the cost, and take some time to research and discuss the options, your loved one will see that – from every angle – this is the option that will enrich every family member’s life the most, including their own.

The Complete Guide to Assisted Living

Assisted living provides long-term housing, support services, and accessibility to healthcare for seniors who find it hard to meet their own daily needs. Here you’ll find a clear overview of what assisted living is, and how you can benefit from it. This simple guide will explain what you can generally expect in an assisted living facility, answer some questions people frequently have on the subject, and balance out some pros and cons for your decision-making process.

The topic of Assisted living is rarely an easy one to broach, whether it’s with a parent, a spouse, or even yourself. But like any difficult matter in life, it will only get more difficult and costly if it is neglected or ignored. In the case of getting your loved one the professional care they need, ignorance is not bliss- it’s costly. It can be costly to their health, to your finances, and to the whole family’s emotions and relationships. While the conversation itself may spark some initial hurt feelings, this temporary tension will be small in comparison to the damage of waiting until the last minute to get them care, or worse- waiting until it’s too late.

If you’re still battling with the question of whether this is really a step you need to take, it may help to check out some frequent warning signs that indicate a senior may need help, even if they keep denying it.

Assisted Living Breakdown

With assisted living rising over the last twenty-five years as the primary source of care for seniors in the United States, with more than 735,000 people in assisted living around the nation, it has also grown in it’s variety and availability to the public. With so many options available it’s much easier now to find one that suits the style and preferences of a senior looking to transition, but hopes for a familiar feel to what they had at home.  The average age for residents is around 87, but many transition into assisted living as early as the age of 65 if they foresee they’ll need daily assistance in the near future.

This can be provided in a single home setting, or a multi-unit apartment layout. You’ll find many different styles of facilities, such as those that feel quaint and homey, or others with so many amenities they rival many resorts. Three meals a day are provided in a community dining area, there’s an apartment space for each resident, and staff that are close at hand to help throughout the day.

The top chronic conditions monitored within assisted living settings are high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart disease, and depression. Many facilities have healthcare options on-site, and staff is available around the clock to assist with needs such as medication management, bathing, using the restroom, getting around the facility, dining, and more. Healthcare providers are either on staff or contracted to provide for any medical needs, and sometimes, even therapy services for recovery after injuries or surgery.

Depending on the assisted living facility you choose, you’ll typically find these services and amenities similar to these:

  • An apartment unit (studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, memory care)
  • Customizable care plans
  • 24 hour staff to assist with daily needs
  • A nurse on staff or on call
  • Three meals a day in a community dining area (sometimes available in-room)
  • Handicap accessibility
  • Easy-access bathrooms and showers
  • Kitchenettes for self-prepared meals and snacks
  • Visiting therapists and physicians
  • Transportation options
  • Errand-running services
  • Pet friendly units
  • An emergency alert system for urgent assistance needs
  • Programs for continued learning and growth
  • Amenities such as a computer room, library, pool, movie room
  • Outdoor recreation area
  • Group outings and social activities
  • Laundry and trash services

FAQs

What Will It Cost?

According the Genworth.com, the 2016 national median cost of monthly assisted living is $3,628. This is the middle ground rate, so depending on the services and location of each facility you will find many options that cost more or less than this amount. Comparably, nursing homes have a 2016 median cost of $7,698 a month for a private room. In-home caregivers are in the $19 an hour range, which comes out to $456 for a full day, and $13,680 per month. Compared to these options, assisted living is often the most economical choice.

How Can I Pay For This?

Most assisted living costs are paid by personal funds, but many states offer waivers for low-income families who require assisted living options. There are also financing options such as converting life insurance into a long-term care benefit plan. You can also find everything you need to know about housing options here.  

What Does the Base Rate Include?

The cost of assisted living may still sound high until you factor in all the everyday expenses that will be included:

Housing: The monthly fee will include the price of your loved one’s unit, and will take the place of what they paid for rent, mortgage, and even other expenses such as property taxes.

Meals: The time, energy, and money that go into preparing three healthy meals a day can add up fast. This would be a huge load off of anyone’s plate, but especially those who are advancing in years.

Utilities: Basic utilities such as water, power, trash, AC and heat, are all usually included, and occasionally even phone and cable.

Household Assistance: Maintenance for the apartment and assistance with daily chores such as trash collection and laundry are usually included in the base rate.

Personal Care: Basic health monitoring and assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing, dining, and mobility are all included in the rate for an assisted living home.

Is It Safe?

Regulations for assisted living facilities are determined by the state rather than the federal government, so they may vary depending on which state you reside in. However, all 50 states require that there be 24 hour supervision and assistance provided, and that the care be administered with dignity and respect.

Will My Loved One Feel Fulfilled?

Many people are concerned about whether or not their loved one will be able to lead a fulfilling lifestyle if they are removed from their familiar home, current lifestyle, or close proximity to family. Many assisted living facilities not only provide amenities such as computer rooms, community rooms and libraries on-site, but they also create activity calendars with a wealth of opportunities to gain knowledge and enjoy life. Some facilities even provide access to college classes for continuing intellectual goals, and others take frequent field trips to explore places and sites their residents have always wanted to experience.

Creating a sense of home is another large part of helping seniors adjust to their new living arrangement, so many facilities allow residents to bring certain items of furniture from home to decorate their new space as they like. Many facilities also allow pets, which can be a huge source of love and fulfillment during this challenging transition.

Will They Stay Connected To Family?

Assisted living facilities realize the most important thing to many seniors is continuing to get quality time with their families. Because of this, many establishments invite family members to stop in as often as they like and even join in meals and activities. There are often smaller dining rooms available to be reserved by residents for special family celebrations, and family members love going for walks along the grounds or sitting for a good conversation in the new home. For most assisted living homes, inviting your family to continue as the primary enjoyment in your loved one’s life is a top priority.

What Should I Look For When Choosing A Facility?

  • Find out if the facility is licensed by the proper state governing agency and that all licenses and certifications are current.
  • Review the facility website to see if their philosophy and values match what’s important to you and your loved one.
  • Check for glowing testimonials from residents and family members who have experienced life at that facility.
  • Look up the facility on websites such as Better Business Bureau and Yelp to see if there have been any complaints filed against them.
  • Ask the staff about how emergencies are handled at their facility.
  • Ask about their staff-to-resident ratio to make sure there is plenty of help for each resident.
  • Check on how many staff are on duty in the evening hours.
  • Ask them about the lives and preferences of current residents to determine how closely they interact and relate with each individual.
  • See if there’s a nurse on staff or on call for medical needs.
  • And finally, always take the time to tour the facility, meet the staff, and talk to the residents and family members to see for yourself. Don’t rely on pictures from websites; these can often be stock photography and not even related to that particular establishment you’re reviewing. And no matter how friendly a voice sounds over the phone you still aren’t seeing things with your own eyes.

Here’s more information, as well as a helpful checklist, as you start to review different facilities.

Pros and Cons

As with every major decision in life, you will find both pros and cons when it comes to choosing assisted living. We’ve listed a few of the biggest pros and cons to assisted living to help you out:

Pros

Flexible Care: As time passes and your loved one’s needs begin to change, the assisted living facility and staff is equipped to also change their services as needed. This way their care program is always evolving to match your loved one’s needs and preferences.

24 Hour Assistance: You’ll never have to worry about your loved one being alone if an accident happens, or falling ill with no one to catch the symptoms. Staff is ready around the clock and emergency alert systems are in place so they will be notified as soon as there’s a need.

Professional Assessment: Most people have a limited knowledge of the conditions that seniors face, but with assisted living you wont have to wonder about the extent of your loved one’s needs. The staff will give you a professional opinion on the care your loved one requires.

Less Isolated: Living amongst a community of people in a similar season of life can reinvigorate their engagement with others. In an assisted living atmosphere they’ll find the old joys of their dorm life combined with the matured interests of their golden years.

More Energy: The maintenance of a household can become burdensome to those advancing in years. Assisted living provides housekeeping, laundry, and other services to lift the burden of chores and maintenance off their shoulders. This will preserve their energy throughout the day so they can spend it on time with friends, family, and continuing in their favorite pursuits.

More Privacy: Compared to nursing homes, where they’d only get a room or semi-private room, your loved one will feel a far greater sense of privacy from day to day in their personal apartment.

Cons

Can Be Expensive: Paying for Assisted Living may be more expensive than moving your loved one in with you and taking care of them yourself.

Underestimated Costs: If your loved one needs more care services than you anticipated, extra fees and costs may arise that you didn’t expect.

Difficulty Adjusting: When anyone has been set in a pattern of life for a long time, change in schedule and habits can be difficult. Even going from living alone to living in a group community can be challenging.

Less Privacy: While it has more privacy than a nursing home, it will have arguably less privacy than one may feel living in a house, with family, or in a retirement community.

Independence and Health

At the end of the day, most seniors are desperate to hold onto their sense of independence and the familiarity of their homes. And who can blame them? But there comes a time when other concerns must be brought to the forefront- beyond their feelings of attachment to home and personal definitions of independence: concerns such as whether their isolation is affecting their health, if they’d be able to get up if they take a hard fall, or if they’re able to remember important needs such as medications and paying bills. Not having someone around who knows how to look for acute health symptoms is a serious problem, and studies have shown that seniors are at a much higher risk of mortality if they are living all alone.

These are only a few of the reasons assisted living might actually be the best thing you could do for your loved one. And once they see what it’s truly like, their personal definitions of independence may grow to include their new home, where they have plenty of social interaction, more energy, more motivation, and plenty of opportunities for their families to stay connected to their lives.

Assisted Living 101 [Infographic]

If you’re searching for an Assisted Living facility for yourself or your aging parents, then you know how overwhelming and confusing it can be.

Finding senior care for your loved ones is hard.

That’s why we designed an infographic to make it easy for you to understand one form of senior living called assisted living.

In this infographic, you’ll get the answers to questions like:

  • What exactly is an assisted living facility?
  • What does it cost?
  • Who is it for?
  • How is it different from other senior living options?

More importantly, does Assisted Living offer the services that are necessary for your or your loved one’s specific condition or needs?

This infographic takes all the confusion out of your decision-making process. You’ll find answers to all your inquiries and it provides the most important questions to ask at the facilities that you’re considering.

CareSprout Assisted Living

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