10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Assisted Living
Learn more about how to beat the high cost of assisted living with these tips that can help you and your loved ones afford senior living, without compromising the quality of care.
How to Beat the High Cost of Assisted Living
Arranging senior living can be challenging, emotionally taxing and expensive, particularly when a person requires more personal care in an assisted living community, residential care home or memory care provider.
“For family members seeking a place for a loved one,” says Tom L. who worked with A Place for Mom, “it can be a difficult time emotionally and mentally.”
Add to that the ever-rising costs of senior care — and the average monthly assisted living rent — and the situation can go from difficult to overwhelming.
For countless families, finding affordable assisted living may seem like an impossible dilemma. Don’t lose heart — there are plenty of strategies that can help you fit quality senior care into your budget:
1. Ask about price flexibility.
The official cost of assisted living communities may not be set in stone — ask about move-in incentives and whether they might be willing to negotiate the monthly price.
2. Consider a different location.
As with other types of housing, the cost of assisted living varies by location.
“In our initial search as a family, we hadn’t even considered looking out of state even though [the community we ended up choosing is] very close in proximity for many of my siblings,” said one A Place for Mom user. Suburbs or outlying communities may be more affordable, so be flexible enough to look outside your zip code or ideal location.
3. Compare “a la carte” costs with inclusive pricing.
Some assisted living communities offer an “a la carte” menu, making it possible to choose some services but take care of others yourself. Family members or volunteer services may be able to fill in the gaps in a more cost-effective way. Bear in mind, though, that for some families an all-inclusive option might be more affordable, especially in some geographic areas where the cost of living is higher.
4. Compare care types.
What type of care is most appropriate for your loved one? Maybe you don’t need the added cost of assisted living — independent living, for instance, might better suit your budget and your requirements. Check our senior care cost planner to compare the cost of living at home to assisted living expenses.
5. Consider long-term care insurance.
For those unable to pay for assisted living out of pocket, private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid may help — but these services generally don’t pay for everything. Long-term care insurance can address that gap and estate planning can give you greater access to financing long-term care.
6. Explore veterans benefits.
If your loved one or his or her spouse has served in the armed forces, they may be eligible for benefits through the Department of Veteran Affairs to offset the cost of senior care.
7. Get it right the first time.
If you have to move your loved one several times until you get the right fit, you’ll end up spending more money. Instead, do your due diligence: visit locations multiple times, check their licensing, talk to the local long-term care ombudsman and have an attorney review the contract. Use this assisted living checklist to help you find the right match.
8. Get personalized advice.
Making a final decision about elder care can be difficult, and sometimes having a knowledgeable Senior Living Advisor can help. Here’s just one example from our APFM community:
“I had gathered a significant amount of data (e.g., room prices, community fees, waiting list, etc.) which was overwhelming. I asked Hollis if she could pull it all together and she provided to me with a matrix of that information. That was the key for us, as a family, in making a decision where to place my mom.”
9. Plan ahead.
Give yourself and your senior loved ones enough time to evaluate senior care communities before they move in. If you’ve got your eye on a specific location, join the waiting list. If you wait until the last minute, you may end up having to pay for a community that’s at the high end of your budget — or that doesn’t meet your needs.
10. Share a room.
In many types of senior living, a shared space is more cost-effective than a single room or apartment. Check on the costs for shared vs. individual rooms.