The True Cost of Assisted Living for Your Aging Loved Ones

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:

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.


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.