What Does Assisted Living Cost in the U.S?

cost of assisted living

Assisted living facilities are a popular choice for Americans as they move into their senior years and find that they need some assistance with their daily activities while maintaining an independent lifestyle. In the continuum of care assisted living fits between independent living and skilled nursing.  According to the latest statistics from the National Center for Assisted Living, there are around 30,000 assisted living care facilities across the country with almost one million residents.

If you’re considering moving yourself or a loved one into an assisted living facility you probably have one burning question: “How much will assisted living cost?”

Making sure that you have the required level of care is essential. But cost is an obvious factor. Even more so when you are choosing between assisted living and in-home care. Often, living at home can be cheaper than an assisted living facility. But that’s not always the case as we’ll find out below.

What Does Assisted Living Cost Per Month?

According to the latest research by Genworth, the national average cost of an assisted living facility is $4,000. That equates to an average yearly cost of $48,000.

Of course, that figure is an average. The real cost of care is going to differ state by state. Some states, like Missouri and Arkansas, are very cheap coming in at an average of $2,844 and $3,037 per month respectively. Other states, like Alaska and New Jersey, are much higher than average coming in at $6,300 and $6,065 per month respectively.

So that you can get an idea of how expensive assisted living care is in your state, we have broken down the top ten most expensive and top ten cheapest states below.

What Are the Top 10 Most Expensive States for Assisted Living?

 Location  Monthly Cost
 District of Columbia  $9,266
 Alaska  $6,300
 New Jersey  $6,065
 Hawaii  $5,500
 Massachusetts  $5,495
 Delaware  $5,350
 Washington  $5,135
 Maine  $4,950
 Connecticut  $4,700
 New Hampshire  $4,675

 

What Are the Top 10 Cheapest States for Assisted Living?

 Location  Monthly Cost
 Missouri  $2,884
 Arkansas  $3,037
 Georgia  $3,100
 Alabama  $3,271
 North Dakota  $3,315
 Oklahoma  $3,235
 Utah  $3,350
 Idaho  $3,475
 Mississippi  $3,493
 South Dakota  $3,500

 

You can find a full breakdown of the monthly costs of assisted living care in Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey 2018, which has provided the figures above.

What Is Included in an Assisted Living Monthly Fee? Why Does Assisted Living Cost so Much?

At this point, you may be wondering what you’re paying for in an assisted care facility. The answer is actually quite a lot. The total cost of assisted living covers a huge number of things, which we break down below.

Move in Fee

Many assisted living communities will have a one-time move in fee that covers the total cost of your move. It works a bit like a sign-up fee when you join a gym or a new internet service provider.

Rent

Most of your monthly fee will go towards the rent for your apartment. This fee will vary depending on the location and size of your apartment. Rent will vary between facilities and can even vary within the same facility if the apartments are noticeably different.

The rent fee will also usually include utilities and cable television.

Personal Services

When you move into an assisted living facility, an awful lot of things will be done or provided for you. A part of your total rent will, therefore, go towards services like your meals, washing, housekeeping, transportation and a full calendar of activities.

Care Services

Depending on your facility and your condition, you may receive or require additional care services on top of the ones listed above. If so, these will usually incur an additional fee. How much you pay for these kinds of services can vary greatly depending on your needs.

Different facilities offer different fee structures

Assisted Living facilities have different ways of charging for all of the services they offer. Some facilities will charge a flat fee that is the same for all residents regardless of the number of services they use. Others will use an a la carte option whereby residents pay for the care and services they use. It will be important to calculate which fee structure is better for you.

The type of facility that you live in will also have a big impact on the total cost. There are typically three levels of assisted living facilities: basic, boutique and luxury.

Basic facilities provide you with everything you need and nothing more. This is a no-frills lifestyle, but a comfortable one. You’ll be provided with three square meals a day; they just won’t be gourmet. There will be activities, but there won’t be as many or as good as they might be in a boutique or luxury facility.

Boutique facilities occupy a middle ground. They are a significant step up from basic facilities but don’t have some of the excess features that luxury facilities enjoy. These will typically be smaller facilities with a focus on creating a great lifestyle for their guests. The community will be a huge part of these facilities, the food will be decent and there will be a great list of activities. Care will also be to a high standard.

Luxury facilities are top of the range assisted living facilities. This is like living in a luxury hotel where all your needs are met for the length of your stay. Restaurant-quality meals will be provided every day and there will be exceptional facilities such as a gym and a pool. Activities will be very high quality, too, typically all-day or multi-day excursions. Many people will not be able to afford these centers, but they offer an incredible experience for the people who can.

The Cost of Care Is Increasing

According to data gathered by Genworth for the last 15 years, the cost of assisted living care has been increasing substantially. In 2004, the average annual cost of assisted living was $28,800. In 2018, it was $48,000.

Why Is the Cost of Care Increasing?

The cost of care will always increase over time. It’s just a fact of life. That being said, there are a number of factors that have caused the cost of assisted living to increase so substantially.

Chief among these is an aging population and sicker patients. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2016 almost 50 million people out of 320 million people (15 percent) were aged 65 or older. These figures are growing rapidly. The same research shows that by 2030, 1 in every 5 citizens will be retirement aged. By 2020, there will be just 3.5 working aged adults for every retired person. There are more people needing care and they are needing more comprehensive care as well. Naturally, it costs more to care for these people. But that’s not the only reason the cost of care is increasing. There have been regulatory changes along with historically low unemployment and resultant labor shortages. It is also increasingly harder to find and retain nursing staff.

Assisted Living Vs In-Home Care Costs

When you conclude that some kind of day-to-day assistance is necessary for you or your loved one, it is important to compare the costs between in-home care and assisted living. As we have seen, finding out the cost of an assisted living facility and what you get for that fee is relatively straightforward. You can use the state average to get a good idea before approaching specific facilities directly for a quote.

Comparing that figure to the cost of in-home care can be tricky, however. How can you place a price on the comfort of your own home? It can also be hard to put a price on care received from your family. It’s important to try to quantify how much these things mean to you.

Property rent or your mortgage fee must also be calculated, as well as property taxes, maintenance fees, utilities and any other costs you may be liable for as a homeowner will also need to be included in the calculations. These fees can make a huge difference when calculating the real cost of staying at home compared to moving into an assisted living facility.

On the other hand, you can’t put a price on quality of life. Many people find the social atmosphere and community provided by an assisted living facility absolutely priceless. As a result, you’ll be involved in a lot more activities when staying in an assisted living facility that you simply wouldn’t do and pay for when living at home.

It’s all about weighing up the pros and cons, the costs and benefits. In a lot of cases, however, when home maintenance costs are considered, as well as the abstract benefits of an assisted living facility such as the community feel are considered, assisted living may be a better choice.

What about the difference between an independent living facility and assisted living facility?

If you have been researching independent living facilities as well, or you currently live in one, you may be wondering about the price difference between the two. Typically, independent living facilities are less expensive than the assisted living alternatives. That is due to the different level of care provided to residents.

In an independent living facility, residents carry out a lot of daily activities like cooking and cleaning themselves, without assistance from staff.  Meal plans may be included or may be an optional expense. With less work required from the staff, the total monthly cost is reduced

For people who have difficulty with activities of daily living, assisted living facilities may be a better choice and well worth the added cost compared to independent living facilities.

How Can Assisted Living Be Made More Affordable?

Unfortunately for many people assisted living may represent a monthly expense that they can’t shoulder. If the figures above made your head spin, all might not be lost, however. There are several ways that assisted living can be made more affordable

Is Assisted Living Covered by Medicare or Medicaid?

A common question for people thinking about going into assisted living facilities is whether Medicare or Medicaid will cover some or all of the associated costs. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer. Let us explain:

Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living or any other long-term care facility. That being said, it may be possible to use Medicare to cover the costs of certain types of additional care. That means if you require additional skilled nursing care while in an assisted living facility,

you may be able to use Medicare to cover some or all of the cost.

Whether Medicaid can be used to cover some or all of the costs of an assisted living facility depends on your personal circumstances and the state you live in. This is because Medicaid is funded in part by the federal government and in part by each state. There are currently 44 states and the District of Columbia that provide a level of financial assistance for assisted living through Medicaid. You can find a complete state-by-state breakdown of Medicaid assistance on Paying for Senior Care website. Bear in mind, however, that even if your state offers Medicaid support, there is no guarantee that your chosen assisted living facility will accept it.

Does Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?

There is certainly nothing wrong with putting your social security check towards the cost of your assisted living. But typically, a social security monthly benefit will not pay for the entire fee. If it does cover the fee, don’t forget to consider  other expenses you may incur monthly including out of pocket medical costs or drug prescriptions

Are Veterans Eligible for Assisted Living Assistance?

If you are a veteran with under $80,000 in assets, you may qualify for the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension. This program will pay out a significant monthly payment that can help to cover the cost of care. In some cases, it may pay for the entire cost. Find out more by visiting the official Veteran Aid website.

Selling Your Home

If you are a homeowner, don’t forget that the money you make from selling your property before moving into a facility can go towards paying your fees for a long time.

Is There an Assisted Living Facility Near Me?

There are assisted living facilities in every state in the country, from Florida to Alaska. Find the perfect facility for you or your loved one using our the Senioridy online senior research directory. We make it easy to find, compare and contact assisted living facilities across the country. Start your search for an assisted living facility today.

 

What is Assisted Living?
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