Ask a group of folks about the challenges they faced while finding care for their parents, as I did recently, and one of the things they’ll mention is difficulty learning what senior care will cost. As one group member said, “I want to see costs online. We’ve had to actually visit every place we’re interested in to find that out.” While visiting the nursing homes or assisted living communities you’re interested in is an important part of the decisionmaking process, there are some online resources to give you a clearer idea of what you can expect to pay for care.
Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey
When you read media reports and blog posts about the cost of nursing home care, assisted living, and home-care services, odds are the writers (myself included) got their figures from the Genworth Cost of Survey. The insurance company has updated its data every year since 2004 to provide the latest national and statewide average costs, projected future costs, and local costs for major metropolitan areas.
Genworth’s data can help you get a handle on what’s normal for your area and help you compare the cost of assisted living in different areas, among other things. If you’re in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for example, and your mother, who needs assisted living, is in Norwich, Connecticut, you’ll be able to see that assisted living costs about $1,850 less per month in Pine Bluff than in Norwich – a compelling reason to ask Mom to consider moving to Pine Bluff.
Another way to use the Genworth data is to compare different care options in the same area. For example, in the Houston metro area, Genworth shows a median difference of less than $100 per month between a full-time home health aide and assisted living. If your parents’ home is paid off, doesn’t need major repairs, and has a property-tax increase cap, living at home seems financially reasonable, especially if they don’t need overnight care. On the other hand, if they still have a mortgage or if the home needs costly repairs, it might make more financial sense to sell the home and move to assisted living.
A free SeniorAdvisor.com account
SeniorAdvisor.com has lots of information on individual senior communities all over the US and Canada. By signing up for a free SeniorAdvisor.com user account with your email and a password, you can see rates at each property as reported by residents and family members. In some cases, you’ll see reported rates for different room types, such as semi-private rooms, one-bedroom apartments, or 2-bedroom suites.
While you’re checking out prices, you can also see each community’s list of services and read user reviews to make your comparisons easier. A community with higher monthly rates may be worth the extra money if it has good reviews and provides services your parents want like free transportation, onsite physical therapy and spa services, and pet-friendly accommodations.
Visiting in person
Once you’ve narrowed your list with your online research, the ultimate pricing tool is the in-person visit. Community staff should be able to give you up-to-date details of lease and deposit costs in writing, along with a list of services that are included in the monthly fee and those that are add-ons. You can also ask if the community accepts Medicaid or veterans Aid & Attendance funds, and find out if the community is willing to work with you while your parents are applying for those programs.