Some wise person once said, “Old age is a privilege denied to many.” This is true. For those fortunate enough to reach it, old age is full of many pleasures. It also contains its fair share of griefs and struggles. If you are caring for someone in their twilight years, you may be considering assisted living. To help with that search, let’s take a quick look at the costs associated with it.

The average assisted living community cost in the U.S. is around $3,750/month. This works out to roughly $45,000/year. As you can see, those costs are not cheap. 

Defining Assisted Living

First of all, let’s make sure we understand what assisted living is. There are several forms of elder care. Assisted living is only one of them. There is also adult daycare and at-home nursing care. Each one has its own benefits and disadvantages. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to stick to assisted living. While I will touch on the others, it would take a much longer and more complicated piece to cover them all.

According to A Place for Mom, assisted living provides several things. “Personal meals, medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation” are all usually included. Also included are things like 24-hour supervision, housekeeping, and laundry service. Each one of these services is vital to the well-being of an elderly individual. When you are considering the options available for your parent or loved one, keep in mind all they will need. It can be quite easy to forget something simple.

Let’s Break It Down a Little

Now that you know all that’s entailed, you can see that you won’t only be paying for room and board. This is not going to be your typical apartment or condo rental. As Hermitage Northern Virginia, which provides Hermitage assisted living in Northern Virginia, notes, it is much more like paying for an upscale hotel that also doubles as a geriatric hospital.

Before we look at the total cost, consider for a moment paying for something as simple as food. On the surface, it seems like an ordinary expenditure. It’s a thing everyone needs to stay alive. On closer inspection, you can see how the costs get inflated. If you were buying groceries, the cost might be one thing. If you were paying for someone to do the grocery shopping for you, it would be a little more. And if you were paying a chef to prepare all your meals as well, the cost would skyrocket.

This is only one necessary service. We have not even touched on the housekeeping or medical care provided. My point is this: there is a good reason (a whole host of them, actually) for why assisted living is so expensive. Each cost is both a good and a service.

Dollars and Cents

As we discussed, for each service, there is a cost associated with it. This does not usually mean that you can pick and choose which services you want for your loved one. That said, there may be communities that allow à la carte options.

The cost of assisted living will vary based on two primary factors. The first is services included, and the second is location. We’ve already discussed the former. Let’s take a look at the latter.

The average assisted living community cost in the U.S. is around $3,750/month, according to Caring.com. This shakes out to roughly $45,000/year. As you can see, those costs are not cheap. That said, they aren’t the most expensive option. We talked earlier about adult daycare and at-home nursing care. The second of those is even more expensive.

Adult daycare in America is a bit cheaper. It will run you about $1,517/month, according to Caring.com. They say that in-home nursing care is more expensive than any of the other options. It can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 every single month.

Assisted living is starting to sound like a bargain. If that is the route you go, you’ll want to take a look at some options for making those payments.

Let’s Make a Deal

BankRate is one of the biggest sources of financial information on the internet. They have a handful of very helpful suggestions on paying for assisted living. We are now going to look at each of them in turn.

First are bridge loans. These are a type of loan where the bank ponies up money before the actual selling of a house. They are usually utilized when buying a new home. They can also pay for initial assisted living costs before an individual’s home sells.

Reverse mortgages help in a similar way to bridge loans. With these, though, you give up a chunk of your home equity in exchange for regular bank payments. Then, you use that money to pay for the assisted living community.

Another option is long-term care insurance. This only works for those people who are young and healthy and can afford it. We’re talking decades away from needing to cash in. They are insurance policies that allow you to offset the cost of future long-term care.

Working in conjunction with long-term care insurance is Medicaid. It is not applicable in every state, so be sure to check your local laws and regulations. If it is available, Medicaid can help by covering some of the associated costs of assisted living.

There is one last option that BankRate suggests. It will only apply to a select few. If you are one of them, it is more than worthy of your consideration. I’m talking, of course, about veterans. It is a sad fact that there are plenty that never take advantage of it.

The VA, or Department of Veterans’ Affairs, has a program that offsets the cost of long-term care. BankRate clarifies that it’s for veterans “who have served at least 90 days on active duty and at least one day during wartime”. Important: this also applies to their spouses.

We have now taken a quick tour of the assisted living landscape, at least in America. If you or your loved one needs a place to go with long-term care and services, you now know where to start. It may be expensive, but it beats some of the other options by a mile.

For a stroll through a day in the life of an assisted living community, check this video out. It’s about five minutes long, and it provides a nice picture of what assisted living should look like.

Although this book is not about assisted living communities, it’s a fantastic resource. It has 78% 5-star reviews on Amazon. If you are caring for aging parents, pick up a copy. It can help with all sorts of unique challenges to this particular chapter of life.

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