How Affordable is Assisted Living?

Posted by Meghan Orner on August 24, 2016

How Affordable is Assisted Living?

Did you know that 6.3 million Americans over the age of 65 require long-term care, according the Family Caregiver Alliance? For the elderly living alone, it’s essential that they find a solution that is both fitting for their needs and affordable.

Assisted living facilities are a popular option among aging seniors, but how affordable is it really when compared to the cost of aging in place? The numbers may surprise you.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living facility, also called assisted care communities or personal care homes, assisted living facilities provide services like medication management, meals, bathing and dressing for seniors who cannot safely age in their own homes. Unlike nursing homes, not all assisted living facilities offer round-the-clock licensed nursing care, but staff members are available 24/7 should you or a loved one need assistance.

As an added bonus, assisted living facilities plan social activities and even transportation services for seniors. This provides a great opportunity for elderly living alone to socialize with other residents and build a strong sense of community, which are both essential elements of healthy aging.

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The Cost of Assisted Living

Assisted living can seem like a perfect solution for those who are having trouble aging in place,  until you look more closely at how expensive it can actually be. According to Genworth.com, the averagecost of a one-bedroom assisted living apartment in 2016 is $3,628 per month, totaling $43,539 per year. While some facilities do take Medicaid, the cost of assisted living can be a huge out-of-pocket expense if Medicaid isn’t accepted at your first choice of assisted living facilities.   

The cost of assisted living depends on a lot of factors, including where you live. According to A Place for Mom, the average monthly cost of assisted living is most expensive in Alaska, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts. They also found that it is more affordable in Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Michigan.

Here are some additional factors that affect the cost of assisted living:

  • Apartment Size. A 1,200 foot square apartment is obviously more luxurious - and expensive - than a 400 foot square one. Also, for those residents who are interested in a two-bedroom apartment in case family comes to visit often, there is an additional expense associated with that as well.
  • Level of Required Care. Not all residents require the same level of care, and assisted living facilities recognize this. Those who do not need as much assistance with daily living activities (i.e., dressing, bathing, etc.) pay less than those who do. Ideally, an assisted living plan will be custom tailored to your loved one’s needs prior to moving in and a detailed invoice will be provided to you.
  • Additional Fees. Assisted living facilities typically charge a base rate that completely covers all basic services, such as room, board and daily meals, but other fees for special amenities and services, like laundry and housekeeping, may also apply. In addition, most facilities also charge a non-refundable fee ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. This fee covers enrolling the new resident in services and renovating his or her new apartment.  

Each assisted living facility is different, however, so be sure to research facilities in your area to get an accurate estimate of the overall cost of assisted living for your family, and to learn which services they provide.

When Assisted Living Isn’t an Option

Due to the high cost of assisted living, this simply isn’t a viable option for many of the elderly living alone and their families. That’s why a majority of seniors decide to age in place, which is actually the preferred way for most seniors to age.  According to a recent report by AARP, “Aging in place offers satisfaction, health and self-esteem—all of which are key to successful aging.”

To successfully age in place, you need to put your health and safety first. Eat a healthy diet, exercise often, socialize with others and install home safety tools, such as non-slip mats, grab bars and sturdy handrails.

A medical alert device from Medical Guardian can also be a vital tool for aging in place and is a more affordable solution than assisted living. With Medical Guardian, you can ensure your safety in any emergency that may occur at home and concerned family members can rest a little easier knowing that you always have a safety net, should you need it.


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