Assisted living is a great option for many senior citizens. For seniors with health conditions that can be difficult to manage, it may even be essential. Seniors suffering from cancer, heart conditions, mental health conditions, or diabetes may benefit from assisted living. Assisted living can also be a good choice if you or your loved one is having trouble managing their home or finances. However, many people are concerned about the cost of assisted living. Can you afford to pay for assisted living for your parents? How can you make assisted living affordable?
The good news is, it is entirely possible to make assisted living fit into your budget! There are many ways to make assisted living affordable.
What is Assisted Living?
Before you start looking into financing options for assisted living, you should first make sure assisted living is right for you or your loved one. Senior living is a great option for most seniors, because it provides a sense of community as well as safety, security, a higher quality of life, and medical help. There are 4 main types of senior living communities: independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing.
Assisted living communities offer slightly more care than independent living. People in assisted living communities live in their own apartments, but benefit from daily medical care or assistance with daily activities. They need help with things like bathing, grooming, medication management, eating or preparing food, or mobility.
Assisted living is typically not a good choice for individuals with severe cognitive impairments, people who require nursing services, or those who can’t safely be left unsupervised. Seniors who are in the later stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia will find memory care communities to be a better fit. People who need more extensive medical services will be better served by a skilled nursing community.
How to Make Assisted Living Affordable
If you’ve decided you or your loved one is a good candidate for an assisted living community, you should start researching financing options. In 2019, the average monthly cost of assisted living nationwide was $4,000(1) . However, costs vary widely depending on location and amenities. Fortunately, there are many ways to make assisted living affordable. Here’s where to start.
If your senior is a veteran, they can get help with assisted living through the Aid and Attendance Benefit. Most veterans who need assisted living will qualify for this benefit. You just need to fill out an application and mail it to your local Pension Management Center, or bring it to your local VA office. As of 2021, this program can provide assistance up to $1,936 / month for a single veteran and up to $2,295 / month for a married veteran (2). Ask the communities you visit if they can help you with this application. They can also refer you to financial advisors who will help.
Many states provide financial aid assistance to seniors who qualify. SHIP, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, can help you navigate the options available in your state. You may also want to see if your state offers PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), which may help. Senior living communities often have staff available who can help with these applications as well.
Long-Term Care Insurance
If you or your senior loved ones have a long-term care insurance plan, this plan will likely pay some of the costs for assisted living.
Medicaid sometimes offers financial help with assisted living communities. The amount Medicaid will pay, and whether or not you are eligible, varies by state. You can apply for Medicaid and find out more about what your state will cover here. Please note that assisted living is typically not a benefit of Medicare.
Run the Numbers
You might be surprised to learn that assisted living is more affordable than you might think. When you pay for assisted living, you aren’t just paying for you or your loved one’s apartment. Assisted living communities usually charge a monthly “room and board” fee. This fee typically includes all meals, transportation, activities, utilities, housekeeping, outdoor area maintenance, and more.
When you are comparing your current costs of living to assisted living costs, make sure you take all of these things into account. For example, here’s how monthly living expenses for your average senior couple might look. For this example, we used average nationwide costs for people in the U.S. in 2020.
- Rent or Mortgage: $2,000
- Food: $600
- Gas, Vehicle, Vehicle Insurance, and Other Travel Expenses: $500
- House Cleaner: $200
- Lawn Maintenance: $100
- Activities and Entertainment: $200
- Utilities: $200
- At-Home Healthcare Assistance: $300
As you can see, these individual expenses can easily exceed the cost of an assisted living community. Once you run the numbers, you might find assisted living is actually a better financial option.
Find Quality Care Near You
There’s no substitute for quality senior care when it comes to you and your loved ones. The best option for you financially will be the one that provides you or your senior loved one with the highest quality of life.
If you’re looking for an assisted living community near you, check out one of Stellar Living’s communities. Our Family Advisors are ready to help you navigate finances and budgets, and can point you towards other helpful resources as you try to find the best place for you today.