Comparing the Costs of Senior Living Versus Staying at Home

Often one of the biggest misconceptions in deciding whether or not to stay in the home for retirement is that older adults and their families believe the costs of senior living will be too much to afford. True, senior living isn’t inexpensive, however, staying at home may not be as budget-friendly as you think either. Here’s what to expect and how to realistically compare the costs of senior living versus staying at home.

The Costs of Senior Living Compared to Care When Staying at Home

There are different levels of care both at home and in senior living. While several variables affect the amount you’ll pay, in general, the more care you need, the higher the cost. That said, here are the average monthly costs according to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

Care When Staying at Home

  • Homemaker Services - Help with household tasks like cooking, cleaning, and errands that cannot be managed independently. The average monthly cost is $4,957 assuming 44 hours per week.
  • Home Health Aide Services - Assistance with personal care, but not medical care. The average monthly cost is $5,148 assuming 44 hours per week.
  • Adult Day Care – Typically includes meals and snacks, health monitoring, medication assistance, and social activities during normal business hours, five days a week. The average monthly cost is $1,690.

Costs of Senior Living

  • Independent Living – Designed for seniors who can still live independently as the lifestyle is focused less on support and more on active living with home upkeep, cooking, and housekeeping provided in addition to a range of amenities plus social and enrichment opportunities to enjoy. Published data on the average cost of independent living varies greatly, but you can typically expect it to be between $1,000 to $4,000 a month.
  • Assisted Living – This level of care provides many of the same amenities and conveniences as independent living but you’ll also have support with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and medication management as needed. The average monthly cost for a private, one-bedroom is $4,500.
  • Memory Care – Designed just for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia and offers 24-hour support in a secure, nurturing environment with specially trained staff. Published data on the average monthly cost for memory care also varies greatly, but you can usually expect a range between $2,000 to $7,000 a month.

How to Compare the Costs of Senior Living and Staying at Home

When considering the cost of senior living versus staying at home, the mistake families often make is to compare the monthly cost in a community to their mortgage or rent alone. However, the total monthly cost of staying at home also includes food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance, entertainment, and healthcare. It’s essential to factor in these costs for a realistic comparison between the two because most are included in the monthly cost of senior living. This worksheet can help you more easily compare your specific circumstances.

Monthly Expenses Costs at Home Costs of Senior Living
Mortgage or rent
Caregiving included
Property Tax and Insurance included
Home maintenance and repairs included
Lawn care and yard maintenance included
Housekeeping included
Utilities(electricity, gas, water, trash removal, etc. included
24-hour security included
Transportation
(insurance, gas, registration, repairs)
included
Dining included
Social and Entertainment included
Exercise and wellness included
24-hour emergency alert system included
Total Actual Costs

Once you’ve compared, you may find that senior living actually costs less than what you pay at home per month! Particularly with higher levels of care at home as caregiving costs can quickly skyrocket the more help you need. Not to mention you may have to pay for home modifications for safety as well as accessibility.

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