Many people take one look at senior living costs and automatically rule it out thinking it’s way too expensive. Not so fast. You see, that cost isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. There are a number of factors that influence the costs and it includes more than you may think. In fact, senior living can actually be less expensive than aging at home in some cases! Let’s take a closer look.

What Affects the Cost

As we mentioned, there are many factors that can sway senior living costs higher or lower, but here are the three biggest influencers:

1. Level of Care

Senior living is actually a continuum of care and the cost is tied to the level in which you need. Essentially the more involved the care, the higher the cost.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Independent living is what you might consider the start of the continuum as it is for active seniors who require little to no daily assistance. Instead, it’s lifestyle-focused and offers carefree living as well as a range of amenities and social opportunities. There is little published data on average costs because it varies so greatly but it typically ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 monthly.
  • Assisted Living provides a higher level of care such as assistance with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and toileting. However, you also have amenities as well as social and enrichment opportunities similar to independent living. According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, a private, one-bedroom in assisted living costs $4,000 per month on average.
  • Memory Care is a type of senior living that is specifically for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It provides a 24/7 support and structured activities by specially-trained staff in a secure, calming setting. There is also little published data on average costs of memory care because it varies so greatly, however, it typically ranges from $2,000 to $7,000 monthly.
  • Skilled care provides the highest level of care with 24/7 support, assistance with daily tasks, and a licensed nurse as well as physical, speech, and occupational therapists on site. According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, a semi-private room is $7,441 and a private room is $8,365 a month on average.

2. Amenities

Senior living is known for the range of amenities it offers, across all levels of care. But that doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of each and every option; especially if budget is a concern. This is one area in which you have quite a bit of control over what you want to spend. Typically, these options add to your monthly senior living costs:

  • Type of Accommodations – Many communities offer private or semi-private; studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom accommodations with the private and larger options costing more.
  • Second Resident Fee – Quite simply, you may pay more if you and your spouse will be moving in together versus one of you alone.
  • Pet Fees – Senior living communities are often pet friendly, but there is typically an additional cost in bringing Fido or Fluffy with you.
  • Concierge Services – Who wouldn’t love this option? But again, it typically comes with an extra cost to which you’d have to decide if your budget will allow.
  • Private Transportation – If you’re no longer able or no longer want to drive, transportation is a key benefit in senior living. You might pay more for private transportation, but keep in mind scheduled transportation via the community van is usually included.

As you consider communities, make sure to ask how they price amenities. Many will offer an a la carte menu of options as we’ve described, but some may only have all-inclusive pricing so make sure to double-check.

3. Geography

Similar to how geography affects the real estate market prices, it can drive senior living costs higher or lower as well. Consider these examples from the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey:

Most Expensive Areas for Assisted Living (private, one-bedroom)

  • District of Columbia – $11,288 per month
  • New Hampshire – $7,021 per month
  • New Jersey – $6,400 per month

Least Expensive Areas for Assisted Living (private, one-bedroom)

  • Missouri – $2,881 per month
  • Arkansas – $3,175 per month
  • Alabama – $3,250 per month

Even if you live in an area where senior living costs are higher, looking at communities outside the city or in nearby towns can help your budget. If possible, even consider a neighboring state.

Value Comes Included

Most of the time when people compare aging at home to senior living, they are simply comparing the monthly cost at the community with their monthly mortgage or rent. But that’s not really the total cost of living at home. You must also include the monthly cost of food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance, and entertainment for a true comparison. Why? Because these things are typically included in your senior living costs (and in one simple monthly bill for even more convenience).

On top of that, factor in the cost of at-home care and/or modifications that you may need, and your senior living costs may actually be less expensive!

For more information on our senior living community, contact us today to schedule a tour →