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Can You Afford Assisted Living?

Updated on July 19, 2013

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.


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      Junior  7 years ago


      I really feel that you are one of the people that 'gets' it... I work for a private company that assists in the specialized needs and services for Alzheimer and dementia patients. We have a staff of OVER 115, with ONLY 75 patients here and the average price point is 4500.00/month. We are a specialized facility and the care here is beyond reproach!

      I used to work in a government facility and it was 'free' and by free, I mean horrible!!!!! The walls were white and sanitary and the people were miserable (they are even locked in their rooms at night so they wont wander off)... and the smell of urine permeated the entire facility!

      At the place I currently work, there are gardens, walkways, koi ponds, the people here get their own room and countless other perks that were never 'free' at the government facility... even the freedom to roam the 6+ acres that are accessible to them!

      Please remember that freedom is never free!

      and you should read some of the horror stories online about government facilities in general... it will disgust you.

      If memory serves me correct, everything in the former Soviet Union was free too... look how that turned out for all the old people!!!

    • profile image

      Kay 7 years ago

      Assisted living facilities are private for profit corporations with thousands of employees on their payroll, How can they possibly give free care? I do not understand why people think the government is responsible to provide food, shelter and medical care to anyone who feels they can't afford it. the government is supposed to provide military protection, law enforecement, and infrastructure. Besides, where do you think the money for "free" services comes from? Tax dollars. that means your dollars. There is no such thing as a free ride.

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      Dippykitty 8 years ago

      I completely agree. It's really shocking how much assisted living and nursing home accommodation actually costs.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      It is so sad when at the end, after all these years of working hard and saving, it comes to this. It should free. After all people paid a lot of money to the government over the years