- Aging & Longevity
Can You Afford Assisted Living?
Assisted living may become a necessary option if you can no longer fully do things for yourself but do not require the around-the-clock care and supervision that would normally be found in a nursing home. Individuals who live in assisted living residences are usually able to take care of themselves for the most part, although they are not independent enough to live alone.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living residences can range from the very small to the very large. The smaller residences may only house a maximum of three or four people, while the larger residences can easily accommodate hundreds of residents. The residences themselves often vary a lot. At the most basic level, residents may have their own bedroom but must share bathroom, dining and living facilities with other residents. At the other end of the scale, residents may have their own private apartment.
How Much Does It Cost?
Assisted living accommodation generally starts at around $800 per month, but can rise to as much as $6,000 per month. The average monthly cost is between $2,500 and $3,000 per month. This will often be largely dependant on the location of your assisted living accommodation, as some areas will be a lot more expensive to live in than others. Other factors that affect the cost of assisted living accommodation include the size of your accommodation and the type of assistance services that you need as part of your residence. For example, if you have your own private apartment and are living in an area that is reasonably expensive, you can expect your assisted living accommodation to cost considerably more than someone who is living in assisted living accommodation in a cheaper area and shares bathrooms and other living facilities with other residents - even if the latter individual requires more assistance services than you. Sharing a room works out cheaper than having your own room, but this is not necessarily a desirable option.
While the cost of assisted living accommodation may sound very expensive, it is generally a lot cheaper than living in a nursing home. The average monthly cost of nursing home care is in the region of $6,300 per month, while the average monthly cost of assisted living care is around half this at $3,000. Over the course of a year, assisted living accommodation costs around $35, 600 per year. Private accommodation in a nursing home will cost an average of $77, 700 per year. If you require significant levels of care due to health conditions, you can expect the cost of assisted living to rise quite significantly. For example, the average yearly cost of assisted living care if you have dementia is around $55,000.
In addition to monthly or yearly living costs, you may also have to pay an "entry" fee to be granted assisted living accommodation in the first place. This can be as much as $60,000.
Is Financial Help Available?
You may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance to cover some of the costs of assisted living. While this will not cover the full cost of assisted living accommodation, it can go some way towards easing the financial burden. Many US states limit the amount that you can receive from SSI, which can have a big impact if SSI is the only financial assistance that you are eligible to receive.
In some states, the Medicaid program will cover some aspects of assisted living. This will usually involve moving to specific assisted living communities that participate in the program, so you do not have the luxury of being able to choose your assisted living community if you go through this program. To qualify for Medicaid in the first place, you are generally required to be on low income and have few assets (other than your home). A typical beneficiary of Medicaid will have a low pension and little in the way of savings.