If you’ve been considering an assisted living community as the new living arrangement for your loved one, there is probably one major question that comes up more than any other:
What will it cost?
While keeping your loved one at home always seem like the cheapest way to go, in reality, this is not always the case. Many people overlook all the features that are included in the monthly fee for assisted living, things that your loved one is already paying for on top of their rent, mortgage, or house repairs.
If you actually calculate all the extra expenses that come with maintaining a home, the monthly cost of rent at an assisted living facility is often much less!
If you’re trying to decide whether to move your aging loved one into your own home or an assisted living facility, there are several things to consider for each option.
Let’s compare them.
Moving Your Aging Loved One into Your Home
1) Increase in Utilities
Think about your utility costs, such as water, gas, electricity, and maybe even the phone bill. You’re used to these bills showing up with a specific amount. Take time to calculate how adding another person to your household will increase these monthly fees.
2) Increase in Automobile Gas
Your loved one will most likely need transportation to various locations and events. Often doctors and specialists don’t live in the same part of town, requiring long drives just to get your elderly relative the treatment that they need. Also consider social activities they’ll want to engage in, religious services, and trips to the store or pharmacy.
Remember: while it may be easier for you to run these errands for them on your way home from work, they will most likely want to be a part of these errands as long as they are able to. For them it’s not only about accomplishing a task, it’s about seeing the people they’ve gotten used to engaging with throughout the week, as well as just getting out of the house for awhile.
But being their chauffeur will take not only take time, it will take more gas money, so this increase should be factored into the final cost of bringing them to live with you.
3) Increase in Time Spent Caring for Them
If you bring your loved one into your home, a lot of your time and energy will spent on helping them, answering all their questions, reminding them to take medications, running errands for them, taking them to appointments, and helping them get to and from family or social events.
Not to mention, you may be responsible for taking care of most of their daily assistance needs on your own, like bathing, dressing or medication management.
At the end of the day, this isn’t just a time issue, it’s a money issue. The time you take for your loved one’s 24/7 needs will have an impact on the time and energy you can put into your work, and may therefore affect your income.
4) Increase in Grocery Bill
Adding another mouth to feed in your home will obviously increase your weekly spend on groceries. You should also factor in any special dietary needs they have. Do they require specific food items on a regular basis?
5) Payment for Home Modifications
Moving your loved one into your home may require some modifications to your current residence. Do they have difficulty with mobility? If so, you may need to build a wheelchair ramp, install a lift, or create some other more accessible entrance to your home.
The shower may also need some modifications to be safe and easily accessible for an aging loved one. Many typical showers are built into a bathtub that would be difficult, even dangerous, for your loved one to climb into.
If your loved one struggles with dementia, then cameras, locks and other safety precautions may need to be installed to ensure that your loved one is constantly monitored and doesn’t wander off or unintentionally cause themselves harm.
Adding It All Up
Obviously financial concerns are not the only thing you must take into consideration when finding the perfect living situation for your home. This elderly relative is, after all, someone you care deeply about. However, it is always wise to take all these things into consideration (along with other major factors like necessary interaction with family, emotional wellbeing, etc.) so that you can make the best decision possible for all parties involved.
Take a moment now and make a list of these and any other costs that will be added to your life should you decide to bring your loved one into your home.
Assisted Living Costs
Now let’s look at what is included in the cost if you decide that assisted living is the best choice for your loved one.
While an assisted living facility may not be the size of the house that they are used to living in, there are generally some very nice options for them to choose from. In your research of facility options, you’ll find that your loved one will have choices between different floor plans such as studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment. There are even facilities that have lovely patio or front lawn options to enjoy.
2) Handicap Accessibility
While you may have to make several expensive changes to your own home, or the home that your loved one is currently living in, to accommodate mobility challenges, assisted living facilities are already equipped with handicap-friendly accommodations.
Showers with no-slip surfaces will be easy to step into, and often include a place to easily sit while they bathe. For those with dementia, there are special areas with extra monitoring and precautions taken so they don’t get out and wander off without anyone’s knowledge.
Every unit is also equipped with an emergency call button, so residents can quickly get in touch with staff should they have an immediate need. Many things that we take for granted on a daily basis are made safer and simpler for comfortable, easy living for senior citizens.
Utilities such as water and power are all taken care of in the monthly cost. Occasionally there is an additional charge for phone or cable, but many facilities include these as well, or at least have a common area where a phone or cable TV is available.
Light housekeeping such as trash removal and basic cleaning is also included in order to keep your loved one’s apartment clean and free of the chores that may have become difficult for them. Basic laundry services are also usually included.
Meals are prepared in a community dining area, and snacks are provided throughout the day. Most apartment units also have a small kitchen area where your loved one can prepare their own meals and snacks if they wish. Some assisted living facilities even have room-order options, although this may incur an extra fee.
One of the largest assets to assisted living is the plethora of healthcare services that are made easily accessible for residents. Many facilities have healthcare professionals that visit on a regular basis, in-house therapy options, or transportation to and from physicians and other specialists.
While you probably want to be with your loved one for major medical appointments, it may ease your mind to know that their health is being regularly monitored, and there are transportation options for those rare times when you aren’t able to take them yourself.
If your loved one was living at their home or yours, you may need to pay extra for special fitness or therapy programs for your them to stay healthy. However, in many assisted living facilities there are regular recreational activities organized to keep residents active and well. This could be frequent outdoor excursions, or in-house exercise programs. Water aerobics, seated exercises, and physical therapy are just a few of the options.
Transportation needs aren’t only necessary for medical purposes; many assisted living facilities have scheduled transportation or shuttles to take their residents out for errands, social events, and even educational and recreational outings.
9) Help with Moving
In some cases, assisted living facilities help out with moving residents into their new apartment. Moving into a new living arrangement after many years in one particular home can be a difficult and complicated task. Having a team to help organize the move can considerably lighten the load for you, and help your loved one feel like there is a staff on the other side of this move that is ready to make them feel at home.
As mentioned before, daily errands for your loved one will quickly add up in hours that you usually spend on something else. But at an assisted living facility, they have staff specifically designated to run these errands for residents.
Many facilities have all of these amenities and services included in the monthly fee, but every facility is different. As you tour various facilities, always make sure to ask what is included in the monthly cost, and what services would be an additional cost. It’s always good to know all the costs up front so you don’t get any surprises once your loved one has already moved in.
11) Costs that Can Vary
In general, assisted living costs are vastly lower than in-home caregivers or nursing home facilities, but the cost of an ALF can vary depending on:
- The location of the facility
- The amount of services included in the monthly fee
- The type of services and amenities included in the monthly fee
Average Costs Depending on State
According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost in 2016 for assisted living was $3,628 per month.
Here are the states with the highest monthly median for assisted living:
Coming in with the lowest average monthly rates were:
If you’d like to cross reference several states that may be viable options for you, here’s a complete list of the average cost of assisted living by state:
A good question to ask yourself is this: Which scenario, at home or at an assisted living facility, will allow me to be the best version of myself so that I can better be there for my aging loved one?
While some sacrifices may need to be made for a time to accommodate your loved one, too many sacrifices on your part may cause you to become over-burdened, and therefore deprive them of the best version of yourself to bless them with in this crucial season of their lives.
If assisted living sounds like the best route for your loved one, here’s a thorough guide on senior living tips to help you start the process, as well as a useful checklist when reviewing different facilities.
We hope this information will help you make the best decision possible for you and your loved one.