As the baby boomer generation ages, assisted living communities will continue to grow in popularity. Assisted living communities offer seniors a way to live independently while getting assistance with daily living activities. While living alone comes with risks of social isolation and loneliness, assisted living offers a vibrant, social environment that improves mental and physical health.
Understanding assisted living costs can be confusing. Not all assisted living communities are alike. Different communities offer different levels of care, a variety of services, and varying pricing structures to top it all off.
It can be confusing. We’re here to help. Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to assisted living costs, and the answers.
Q: How much does assisted living cost?
In Massachusetts, consumers can generally expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 per month for Traditional Assisted Living. Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care is more expensive, with a typical range of $5,500 to $10,000 per month.
The cost of assisted living really varies by community and location. However, most community prices are based upon the type and features of the apartment and the level of services needed by the individual resident. Monthly fees cover rent, utilities, dining services, housekeeping services, activities and programming, personal care and many other services and amenities.
Assisted Living Communities have changed over the years and can make comparing costs at different communities challenging. For example, some communities charge a basic monthly fee that includes some amount of personal care services in addition to the other services and amenities. Other communities have service packages in a tiered pricing system depending on the level of care the resident might need. Lastly, some communities charge separately for all services on an “a la carte” basis. Most communities now also have tiered pricing for medication management services.
When you tour different communities, it’s crucial you ask for not only the base rent and services, but what the different levels of care and medications would be in addition. This will allow you to then compare apples to apples across the communities.
Q: How do I pay for it?
Most people pay for assisted living expenses out of pocket, at least at first. That is because the insurance market hasn’t adapted well to how people use long-term care. Each company varies as to coverage and payments.
Private health insurance does not cover long-term care, and neither does Medicare. There is a special kind of insurance, long-term care insurance, that covers long-term care, though the market for it has been shrinking for some time, falling from 750,000 new policies issued in 2002 to only 89,000 new policies in 2016. (Even in 2012, less than 3 percent of people had long-term care insurance.)
The U.S. Veterans Administration has a provision in its Veterans Pension that pays an extra benefit for low-income pensioners who require “aid and attendance,” for which assisted living qualifies.
Private assets, such as savings, proceeds from the sale of a home or the sale of a life insurance policy to a life settlement provider, which converts the policy from a death benefit to a temporary income stream for long-term care costs.
For more information on ways to pay for assisted living, download our guide Assisted Living Costs and Affordability.
Q: Will Medicare pay for it?
No. Medicare does not cover assisted living, which is designed to assist with the activities of daily living, not provide medical treatment.
Q: Why is assisted living so expensive?
At first glance, it may seem that assisted living comes with a hefty price tag. Especially if you have already paid off your home. But, here’s food for thought: If you were to hire a full-time cook, in-home personal assistant, housekeeper, groundskeeper, maintenance supervisor, social coordinator, and chauffeur, it would be quite expensive, even if you split the cost with a few dozen friends.
That’s essentially what a move into an assisted living community provides. Assisted living provides three nutritious and delicious meals a day, weekly housekeeping and laundry of bed linens, scheduled activity and social programming, fitness and educational experiences, maintenance services, 24 hour staff and emergency call system.
In addition to all of that, there are the personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and grooming, as well as medication management (this may be an additional fee depending on the community).
There are many benefits to assisted living, and there are many options available that you can tailor to your needs. Paying for it can seem daunting, but it can also be more affordable than you think.
Q: Does the monthly fee increase annually?
Most Assisted Living Communities have a year-long lease that residents sign upon entering the community. The base monthly fee will be a set amount outlined in the lease, but the total monthly cost depends on the levels of care and medication management that are decided on an individual basis.
But yes, overall Assisted Living Communities will increase their fees annually. Ask the community of your choice what their typical annual increase has been for the past few years. This will give you a good indication as to what to expect moving forward.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, assisted living costs have increased significantly for many reasons and has resulted in higher than usual annual rent increases. These items range from staffing shortages, wage gaps, increased food and supply costs, amongst many more demanding needs.
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