Assisted Living Costs: A Guide to Financing and Finding the Ideal Facility

Article Summary

This article provides an overview of assisted living, including what it offers to older adults and their family caregivers, the cost, and how to find the right facility.

Key takeaways:

  1. Assisted living staff offer assistance with personal care, medication management, mobility, meal preparation, activities, transportation, shopping, housekeeping, maintenance, and laundry.
  2. The national average for assisted living fees in 2021 is $4,500 per month.
  3. Consider using a senior facility referral service, preferences, needs, and non-negotiables when looking for an assisted living facility.

What Does Assisted Living Offer to Older Adults and their Family Caregivers?

Residents of assisted living get to enjoy the privacy of their own apartment while still benefiting from a close community of friends and neighbors. Family caregivers can take comfort in the knowledge that their loved one is safe in a supportive environment, with staff readily able to respond to emergencies, and assist with personal care or other basic needs.

It’s common for assisted living staff to offer assistance with:

  • Personal care
  • Medication management
  • Some assistance with mobility
  • Meal preparation
  • Planned activities
  • Transporation
  • Shopping
  • Housekeeping
  • Maintenence
  • Laundry

In assisted living, residents usually live in small private apartments and share common areas, like dining rooms, patios, and recreation areas.

Some assisted living facilities offer additional amenities, such as:

  • On-site beauty salon
  • Gym or fitness area
  • Gardening area
  • Pool

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, in 2021 the national average for assisted living fees was $4,500 per month. You can find the average monthly cost of assisted living in your specific area using the Genworth Cost of Care Calculator.

Note that in many cases assisted living facilities charge a base rate for room and board and charge extra for care or services. It’s common to offer “level of care” packages based on the amount of personal care assistance needed or pay-per-use charges for transportation or other services.

How Do I Find an Assisted Living Facility?

Taking the time to find the right assisted living facility, where your loved one will feel comfortable and at home is worth the effort.

  • Consider using a senior facility referral service. Keep in mind that these services are not all the same. It may require a bit of research to ensure you’re working with a reputable one, but doing so is worthwhile. Read more about what to look for: Should I Use a Senior Facility Placement Service?
  • Consider your preferences, needs, and non-negotiables. What would you like to see in a senior living setting and what do you absolutely need? Think about your loved one’s needs now, as well as what they might be in the near future. If you anticipate an increase in needs it might make more sense to move directly to a facility that can accommodate them, rather than having to go through the disruption of another move again next year.
    • If your loved one has complex medical needs or severely impaired mobility a nursing home may soon be the only type of facility that can accommodate them.
    • If your loved one has dementia or behavioral concerns a memory care facility might be better suited to your needs.
    • If you prefer a very small, home-like environment a group home may be a better option.
    • Do you want a place with a garden? A place that allows pets?
    • Do you need a place that supports a certain diet, language, culture, or religious tradition?
  • Compile a list of potential facilities.
  • Review recommendations for assisted living facilities in your area at your Olera dashboard.
  • Search the LeadingAge Directory of Non-Profit Aging Services.
  • Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of assisted living facilities in your area.
  • Ask your doctor, health care provider, family, or friends for recommendations.
  • Call the facilities to get some basic information.
    • What are the costs and what’s included? Are there level of care charges? What services are available for additional charges? What happens if a resident runs out of money? Will they accept Medicaid?
    • What type of care can they support? What would cause the resident to have to leave the facility?
    • Ask about any non-negotiable deal-breakers you may have.
  • Arrange to tour several of your favorite facilities.
  • Be sure your ultimate choice is a place your loved one feels comfortable living in and calling home.

Author Bio

TJ Falohun, co-founder and CEO of Olera, is a trained biomedical engineer passionate about developing novel digital health and medical technologies. His passion for innovative solutions drives him to write about the cost of healthcare in America and to revolutionize the senior healthcare industry.

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