Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, judging senior living on cost alone could mean you or your loved one pay big in missed opportunity and value. You see, senior living is not one-size-fits all, there’s much more that goes into the cost than you may realize. That’s why it’s important to look beyond the numbers as they don’t often tell the whole story. What’s more, there are a range of factors that affect the senior living cost you may actually pay. Here’s what you should know.
There’s More Than One Type of Senior Living
We mentioned above that senior living isn’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, senior living actually offers a continuum of care that’s based on different needs and wants. The continuum includes:
Independent Living – These communities are focused on lifestyle and are ideal for seniors who are seeking more social and enrichment opportunities than they may have at home, as well as freedom from home maintenance and daily to-dos. Other amenities to enjoy may include concierge services, a pool, fitness center and transportation. Typically, residents in this setting do not require daily assistance.
Assisted Living – Housing plus social and enrichment opportunities are offered in this setting too, but residents also have assistance with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing, as well as 24-hour supervision and onsite care. These communities feature a comfortable, homelike setting with amenities such as restaurant-style dining, housekeeping, laundry and transportation.
Memory Care – These communities are designed just for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Not only is the staff specially-trained in memory care, you’ll also find 24-hour supervision and a secure yet comfortable setting, plus therapy and a supportive dining experience. Amenities such as housekeeping, structured activities and social opportunities make life more convenient and enriching.
What Affects Senior Living Cost
You also may not realize that you DO have some control over the cost you will pay for senior living. That’s why it’s so important not to assume the cost someone you know paid or even a price you found online will be the same for your circumstance. Rather, use them as a frame of reference for what you might expect with the understanding that there are ways to work with your budget, including:
Level of Care – We’ve defined the different types of care in the senior living continuum above. Not only does this benefit you in that you can choose the senior living experience that best fits your needs, but it also gives you more flexibility in terms of budget because the cost differs based on the level of care. For example, if you don’t currently need daily assistance but would enjoy a more active and carefree lifestyle, you could start in independent living and pay less now. Then, move to assisted living should your needs change down the road.
Location – Similar to the real estate market, senior living cost is also affected by where the community is located. To illustrate how the cost can vary just in assisted living alone, according to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the District of Columbia is the most expensive area; averaging $11,288 per month while Georgia is the least expensive area; averaging $3,335 per month. So, if budget is a factor, consider senior living communities outside the city, in nearby towns or even in a different state to bring your monthly costs down.
Amenities – Senior living communities have an abundance of amenities and while many are included within the monthly fee, some are not. When considering your budget, it’s important to take a look at what amenities are truly needed. Here are some of common amenities that may add to your monthly cost:
● Type of residence – You’ll pay more for a two-bedroom than a studio for example.
● Pet fees - There is typically an additional fee to bring your pet with you in senior living.
● Concierge services – This is certainly convenient, but likely not a necessity.
● Private transportation – Again this may be more convenient, however, senior living communities typically have scheduled group transportation in the standard monthly cost.
A Continuum of Care on One Senior Living Campus
We feel one of the greatest values when it comes to senior living cost is that many communities offer multiple levels of care on one campus. You get the advantage of a more customized experience and budget flexibility as we mentioned above, but in knowing those other levels of care are on the same campus should you need them offers tremendous peace of mind. Not to mention a much easier transition as you’ll still be in familiar surroundings and can maintain continuity of care.
For more information, download our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing or call us today to schedule your future tour at 540.385.8720.