Assisted living payment options
How to pay for assited living? Assisted living communities welcome seniors who are still in fairly good health, offering room and board, specialized care, and assistance with ADLs. Assisted living facilities have monthly fees that must be paid, in accordance with the care one benefits from. It is essential to understand that the cost of assisted living varies from one facility to the other, and from one state to the other. Seniors can cover the respective fees in various ways, using their regular income, relying on their long-term care insurance, or selling their property.
What are the factors influencing the cost of assisted living?
First and foremost, the cost of assisted living depends on the type of facility and its actual location. You might also discover that there are additional factors deciding the fees to be covered, including the available services and amenities, healthcare offered, and how many ADLs the senior receives help with. The level of care required and the type of living unit will lead to different costs. Aside from housing and utilities, the monthly fees cover the scheduled activities, general maintenance, transportation, housekeeping, laundry and linen service, meal planning and preparation, etc.
It is for the best to be aware of the cost variations before committing to any particular assisted living facility. For instance, seniors can take into account their current health status, as well as the level of independence. The more assistance one requires with ADLs, the higher the costs to be covered are going to be. In calculating your budget, you should also take into account that certain services and amenities might be available at extra cost. Medication management and various therapies are often offered by third-party providers, which means that the associated fees will not be included in the regular costs.
How much does assisted living cost in the US?
As with the other long-term care options, the cost of assisted living varies significantly from one state to the other. It is for the best to be aware of these differences, researching various assisted living communities, including those outside your state. After all, you want to be certain that you have found the best senior living community for your needs and available budget. Remember that most senior living centers have a tiered-price policy, so you have to be certain what each tier means. Of course, you can also search for a senior living facility with an all-inclusive pricing model, which signifies there won't be any additional costs to worry about.
The states with the most affordable assisted living communities include: Alabama ($3,500 per month or $42,000 per year), Arkansas ($3,700 per month or $45,000 per year), Georgia ($3,500 per month or $42,000 per year), Idaho ($3,800 per month or $46,000 per year), Kentucky ($3,400 per month or $41,000 per year), Louisiana ($3,700 per month or $44,000 per year), Mississippi ($3,500 per month or $42,000 per year), Missouri ($3,000 per month or $36,000 per year), Nevada ($3,750 per month or $45,000 per year), North Dakota ($3,300 per month or $40,000 per year), Oklahoma ($3,800 per month or $46,000 per year).
On the other hand, some of the states with the most expensive assisted living facilities are: Alaska ($6,800 per month or $81,000 per year), Delaware ($5,900 per month or $71,000 per year), District of Columbia ($6,900 per month or $83,000 per year), Maine ($5,800 per month or $70,000 per year), Massachusetts ($6,500 per month or $70,000 per year), New Hampshire ($6,400 per month or $77,000 per year), New Jersey ($6,400 per month or $77,00 per year), Rhode Island ($6,800 per month or $81,000 per year), Washington ($6,000 per month or $72,000 per year).
Ways people can pay for assisted living
How to pay for assisted living? Seniors might be able to cover the cost of assisted living using their regular income. However, should that not be enough, other financing options should be considered. In most cases, one needs a solid action plan, in order to make sure that the best strategy has been chosen. You might rely on the support of your family to decide.
It often happens that seniors decide to cover the cost of assisted living out of their own pocket. They might have various sources of income, not to mention savings or retirement accounts, and diverse investments. If you also have the financial support of your family, you might also consider this option. Of course, by choosing to pay out of pocket, you will get to keep any assets you might own.
Selling your home might not be something you desire, but it can help you cover the cost of assisted living. Think of it as the best alternative to downsizing, one that can be used to benefit from the right care in old age. It is important to understand that selling your property might not be easy, especially if a mortgage is still in place. You might also find someone to take the property as such, but that person will have to assume the loan debt as well.
Even though this is not usually the case, your insurance might cover the associated costs of assisted living. However, if you have taken out a long-term care insurance policy, you are definitely covered. It is for the best to contact your insurance provider and make inquiries with regard to such matters. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the private health insurance will cover assisted living, as this is not always the case. It might offer coverage for medical care, but to a limited extent. Your best plan is the long-term care insurance policy, which has enough flexibility to include assisted living. As the insurance provider might point out, you will have to meet specific qualifications. For instance, you should require help with at least two ADLs.
Medicare cannot be used to cover the cost of assisted living, as it does not offer financing for the room and board, or the assistance with ADLs. However, it might be used to cover certain services, such as physical and occupational therapy, limited healthcare, and skilled nursing care. Medicaid might be used to cover nursing or personal care as a service, but nothing more. Veterans might rely on the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension to cover the cost of assisted living, but only under special circumstances. As someone with VA health benefits, you might also receive coverage for certain services, such as medical care.
Life insurance policies might be used to cover the cost of assisted living, especially if they include a clause regarding living benefits. You will have to talk to your insurance provider, as the policy must be bought back for you to receive the associated funds. If there are no living benefits, you might still be able to sell your policy to other companies, receiving a part of the initially invested funds. You might also inquire about life insurance conversation programs, which generally allow seniors to transfer the policy benefits into what is known as a long-term care payment.
Another potential solution regards the pooling of family resources, as this will certainly help the senior in question gathered the necessary funds. Family members can pool not only their current resources, but also various assets. Seniors are also encouraged to purchase an annuity, which involves transforming one's nest egg into regular payments, delivered over a predetermined period of time. Annuities ensure a reliable income, but they are complex financial tools, so you might want to contact a financial adviser to help you with these. As always, this specialist can help you avoid annuity fraud, which has become quite common nowadays.
If you are the owner of a property, you might also consider the reverse mortgage as a potential solution. The reverse mortgage allows you to cash out the home equity, with the option of monthly payments or in full. The value of the home equity is decided in accordance with the property worth, age, and interest rates. You might consider this option if you or your spouse need assisted living, with the other spouse remaining in the respective property. There are specific conditions required for the reverse mortgage. For instance, seniors must be over the age of 62, with one person continuing to live in the home.
Another alternative would be to rent the property instead of selling it. This represents a suitable option for families who aren't ready to sell their home. Renting out the property can offer a steady income to cover the cost of assisted living. There are specialized services that can be hired to manage the property in question, with the income derived easing the burden of financing your new living arrangements.
How care levels influence the cost of assisted living
The pricing model is often developed in accordance with the different levels of care residents might require. It is clear that a senior who doesn't need any particular care will have to pay less than someone who needs regular assistance, not to mention instructions or reminders. Should one require help with the activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, or dressing, the associated costs will be higher. Of course, you can expect for the costs to increase, should one need additional care. This might include the mobility assistance, help with feeding, or medication administration. If the needs change, the care level can be adjusted, but this will also mean the costs will fluctuate accordingly. Most assisted living communities offer detailed information on their pricing and the associated levels of care, so you can make inquiries about these before applying for a spot.
As it might be expected, the available levels of care vary from one assisted living facility to the other. Prospective residents must undergo an initial assessment, which will be used to determine the required level of care and any additional needs. If the resident has a complete level of independence and doesn't require any help, there will be no additional fees to be paid. The same might apply for the seniors who can complete ADLs with verbal instructions and no other assistance.
Each ADL will be analyzed at the initial assessment, so as to identify the level of care a resident might need. For instance, when it comes to bathing, it is essential to determine whether the resident requires help with bathing or showering. One will also investigate how often does the respective senior require help. Some residents only need help with washing and drying their hair, others require extensive assistance with everything related to bathing. With clothing, the specialists will try to determine if a resident is able to dress himself/herself without assistance. They will assess the ability to dress themselves, including when it comes to zippers and buttons, but also the ability to choose the right items of clothing (in accordance with the weather or occasion).
Grooming involves two actions, meaning to remember that such an activity is necessary, followed by the actual ability to brush one's hair and teeth. It might also include shaving for men. Assisted living communities will also assess how much help a senior might need in terms of mobility. This will include transfers, standing up from a seated position, walking, and climbing stairs. When it comes to continence, it will be essential to determine whether seniors are able to change their own liners or diapers. Higher levels of care are usually required when residents suffer from oppositional behaviors. It is worth mentioning that incontinence care is usually available at extra cost.
If a senior requires multiple types of care, covered by more than one caregiver, then the associated costs will be higher as well. Seniors who often need such high levels of care usually suffer from chronic pain, oppositional behaviors, are prone to wandering, falls or other accidents, or require assistance with various tasks. Eating assistance is also associated with a higher level of care. Some residents are able to feed themselves but require help when it comes to cutting up their food. Others might need a caregiver to be present at mealtime, as he/she might be unable to eat alone. Those who are at risk of choking will need supervision as well. Safety, dietary, or medical hazards will be considered in deciding whether the senior requires a higher level of care.
Seniors who require medication management will have to cover higher fees for their assisted living residents. The level of assistance might be low-key, with residents being helped to keep their prescriptions filled. Trained assisted living staff will administer the needed medication or supervise seniors while taking the treatment. Should an assisted living resident require injectable medication, the alf staff will cover the higher level of care as needed. Advanced medication management is associated with higher level of care and typically with extensive costs.
Dementia seniors are also usually in need of higher levels of care. Given that we are talking about a progressive condition, it is necessary for their status to be assessed at regular intervals. In calculating the associated care costs, the following aspects are going to be considered: actual diagnosis of dementia, severity and behavior, how often does the resident need to be monitored, risk of confusion and wandering, tracking systems used. The latter are quite helpful when it comes to seniors with advanced forms, but they are associated with higher monthly fees.
The laundry and linen service is often included in the general services and thus part of the monthly rate, but there are assisted living facilities that charge separately for such services. You might also discover that the costs to be covered are calculated in accordance with the current floor plans. The factors considered include the square footage, number of rooms, and bathrooms, as well as the location within the community. For instance, the units located closer to the amenities, or the elevator are more expensive. The same goes for those with the better view. Some assisted living facilities offer seniors the possibility to share a unit, with the room and board costs becoming more affordable. There is also the side-benefit of socialization, with many seniors welcoming such living arrangements.
The staff-to-resident ratio is another factor that plays a major role in the monthly rates to be paid. The more staff is available for each senior, the greater the quality of the care offered, but also the associated costs. Of course, the actual location of the respective facility decides its costs as well. Assisted living facilities that are located in urban areas are typically more expensive than the rural ones, and you might discover that relocating outside urban areas will equal more affordable options. Swapping states is another brilliant idea, as it can guarantee you will benefit from lower rates. As always, it pays to research different options. The time constraint might also be associated with higher costs.
The value of assisted living
When it becomes apparent that you are in need of assisted living, it can be difficult to leave everything behind and start afresh in a dedicated community. Financing the associated costs is an important part of this whole experience, but you have to weigh in all the benefits derived. First and foremost, you will live within a supportive environment, with adapted living units, specialized care, and limited healthcare. You will receive assistance with activities of daily living, including eating, drinking, and dressing. Trained staff will go at great lengths to meet your needs, helping you overcome any of the challenges experienced.
In trying to decide whether the move into an assisted living community is worth it or not, you should factor in other advantages. Seniors can form valuable social connections, engage in wellness programs that target their physical health, and enjoy meaningful cultural experiences. They have access to nutritious meals and snacks, with dietary options in accordance with their current health status. There are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow, thanks to the stimulating activities included in the daily routine. Safety features are available to keep them protected, with 24/7 monitoring when necessary. Chronic conditions are managed, with trained nurses administering medication and other treatments as needed. In doing the math, you might arrive at the conclusion that assisted living is definitely worth the money.
How does the cost of assisted living compare to other long-term care options?
If you require assistance with everyday tasks, assisted living might represent the most affordable option available. You might notice that both home health care and in-home care are less expensive, but the level of care offered differs. It is also worth mentioning that in-home care is typically charged by the hour, which means that the overall costs are higher. Nonetheless, all these three options are less expensive than nursing homes, especially if you are going for a private room. One of the cheapest options available is the adult day care, but you should expect a much lower level of care.
A visiting tour to gather information about the potential costs
Most assisted living communities offer visiting tours for prospective residents, allowing them to check out the services and amenities, as well as meet the staff. During the tour, you are invited to ask questions, including with regard to the potential costs. It might be a good idea to prepare a list of questions before the actual visit, asking the staff for detailed answers. You can then compare the different facilities and choose the one that speaks to both your needs and budget the most.
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As you have seen, the cost of assisted living differs from one facility to the other, and from one state to the other. There are diverse factors that impact the cost of assisted living, including the required level of care, facility location, and services available. Seniors can cover the cost of assisted living in different ways, selling their property, using the long-term care insurance, or simply paying out of pocket. If you still have questions about the cost of assisted living, give us a call and we will provide the information you need on the cost of assisted living and availability. This service is free of charge.