In the search for assisted living for a senior loved one, adult children may quickly realize how much the cost of care varies between communities. It also becomes apparent that the options for financing assisted living can be confusing.
To help clarify these crucial issues, we are sharing some insight on community pricing and resources for potential funding solutions.
The True Cost of Assisted Living Care
Once you’ve toured a few assisted living communities, you will notice how different the pricing structures are. Every community has their own way of assessing monthly fees.
For some assisted living communities, bundled rates that include all housing, care, and services are the standard. Other communities have a base fee with level of care charges assessed on an individual basis. These differences can make comparing communities more challenging.
To make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to pricing, consider:
- Housing expenses: The type of housing you choose can impact pricing significantly. Larger apartments with more bathrooms can be much more expensive than a studio apartment. Location within the community also affects pricing. For example, a prime location on the first floor overlooking a scenic pond might be priced higher. By contrast, a studio apartment on an upper floor far from the elevator may be less expensive.
- Cost of care: Understanding the cost of care (sometimes referred to as level of care) is often the most difficult part of comparing communities. Ask each community you are considering what care charges are—and aren’t—included in the monthly fee. Also ask how much notice you will be given if a loved one is being moved to a higher level of care and what the increase in cost will be.
- Services and amenities: Most communities offer an array of services and amenities to enhance residents’ quality of life. Some are included in the base fee, and others are charged only when the service is utilized. Be sure you understand the differences at each community you visit. Transportation, parking, beauty/barber shop services, laundry, and housekeeping are a few to inquire about during your tour.
- Utilities: Electric, heat, air conditioning, trash removal, lawn care, and basic cable are usually included in the monthly fee. Some communities also include local telephone service. It’s important to clarify these just to be sure.
Assisted Living Funding Solutions
Once you are confident you understand the monthly fees, the next step is to create a budget for a senior loved one’s care. While private funds are usually the primary source of funding for assisted living communities, there are other potential solutions to investigate.
A few options for financing assisted living include:
- Life settlement accounts: Many seniors have life insurance policies they no longer need. Selling the policy to a credible life settlement company may help finance assisted living. These companies give the older adult a lump sum payment for the policy, typically about 50 to 75 percent of the policy’s face value.
- Long-term care insurance: It’s commonly assumed that long-term care insurance only pays for a nursing home. In reality, many also help defray the costs of an assisted living community. Check the policy to clarify what types of senior care are included.
- Bridge loans: For a senior who has a home to sell or investments to liquidate, a bridge loan can be a solution. The older adult can move to assisted living while family members get the house ready to list or wait for the best time to sell an investment.
- Aid and Attendance benefit: Another benefit is for veterans and their surviving spouse. Often referred to as the Aid and Attendance benefit, it helps close the gap in financing senior care for qualifying veterans. The monthly benefit ranges from $1,153 per month for a surviving spouse to $2,127 per month for a married veteran.
One final suggestion is to share an apartment with another senior. Some assisted living providers, such as Sunrise, offer companion living programs. These bring older adults together to help them reap the rewards of assisted living at a more affordable price.
If you need help creating a budget for a move to senior living or have questions about financing options, our partner Elderlife Financial Services can help. An Elderlife concierge can help you design a personalized financial plan so your family can start enjoying the assisted living care, service, and peace of mind you deserve. Call 1-866-506-4244, email [email protected], or learn more about financial options and planning.