The Cost of Assisted Living in the United States

When researching assisted living options, one of the unexpected challenges that most people face is that it can be very difficult to uncover the actual costs. There are some understandable reasons why price tags in such a complicated field can be hard to discern. That doesn’t make things any easier for those who want or need to work within a specific budget when trying to find the ideal place for themselves or a loved one.

With this in mind we will try to explain the factors that make up the cost of assisted living. We will also look at how best to get the specifics for each residence you are considering. There is a very wide range of assisted living options in most areas of the United States, and over-all costs will generally follow local housing and labor markets.

National average for a one-bedroom apartment

It is helpful to know that the national average for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living residence is $3,550 per month (Met Life survey for 2012). That total includes all assisted living communities nationwide, as an average. Of course there are many variables including services and care options, which we will discuss below.

As a broad guideline it’s important to take local factors into account when estimating a budget. For example, a similar accommodation with a set group of services in San Francisco would be well above the national average, while in western Florida it’s likely to be below the national average.

Variables in assisted living costs within each community

The primary reason it’s so challenging to quote specific prices is that most communities have a range of living options like studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments, etc. with some units having special features like views. And in addition to the apartment or home type they offer various assisted living services that are usually linked to levels of care.

Style and size of accommodation

Assisted living communities can range from smaller hotel-style apartments all the way up to multi-bedroom luxury apartments, homes or villas. Generally the accommodations come with a meal plan and some enhanced services included. For example, weekly housekeeping, transportation, social and educational events and/or a cable TV connection might be included in the fees. The specific unit desired can make a large difference in monthly costs. An apartment with a view or a private balcony or a desirable location within the building will obviously cost more than apartments without these features.

Levels of care come at different costs

While meal preparation and group activities within the community may all come in the base price, additional services such as medication management, dressing, and bathing help usually come with an additional cost based on need (tiered pricing). This allows newer residents who need very little daily help to move in at a lower cost and yet have the security of additional services being available as soon as they are needed.

New residents and/or their families might have a good idea of which services they are likely to require before they move in.  However   there is typically a meeting with a nurse or social worker who will help access the resident’s needs before move-in, and provide reevaluations as needed.

In most Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Residential Care Homes the “Care Fees” are included in the pricing, so in most cases they will offer a flat all-inclusive fee structure.

Most assisted living communities require a deposit or a community fee

While the elements discussed above are what will determine most or all of the monthly fee, most assisted living communities require a deposit or community fee of at least $1,000 to secure a specific residence before the move-in date.

Help in paying for Assisted Living

In some cases a portion or all of the Assisted Living fees are tax deductible (IRS Publication 502) and/or can be covered by preexisting Long Term Care Insurance.  For those who have had war time military service or for their surviving spouse, the Veteran’s Administration offers a benefit to cover un-reimbursed medical expenses for some of the assisted living costs.

Finding prices of assisted living communities

SearchSeniorLiving.com is unique in listing the costs for each community on the community’s page within the site, while virtually all other sites including most of the community’s own websites do not have this feature. We know how important a consideration the cost structure is when making such a big decision (credit lynn), so we at SearchSeniorLiving.com try to help by making this information as easy to find as possible.

SearchSeniorLiving.com also provides a Cost Comparison Worksheet that our clients and their families find   helpful in evaluating the cost of an assisted living community as compared to the cost of continuing to live at home.

At SearchSeniorLiving.com, we are dedicated to helping you and your family ease the search!  Please visit our website or call us at 877-243-8073.