Is Assisted Living Worth the Cost?

March 25, 2021 by Katie Davis

Jar of money sitting on counter

Assisted living is a popular and valuable service that many older adults use when they need more care and support than they can receive at home. Unfortunately, the average monthly cost of $4,300 for assisted living services leaves these communities financially out-of-reach for many older adults and their family members.

While this post focuses on assisted living, it’s important to remember that private-pay senior care (services that aren’t covered by insurance) can all be expensive. It pays to research and understand as much as you can about each service so you can find the best fit for you.

 It’s also important to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach typically costs more. You can save time and money by keeping abreast of new developments in the space. And, by making smart decisions earlier on in your aging process so you don’t find yourself recovering from costly hospital or skilled nursing stays.

What Services Are Included?

How do you know whether assisted living services are best for you? Well, first, it’s important to understand what is included in the cost of service. While each community will differ in terms of their licensure and what they offer for the price, in general, assisted living communities offer a place to stay (room and board), some oversight and assistance with activities of daily living.

The room and board component of the assisted living equation is relatively straightforward. Individuals pay to rent a room (typically a studio apartment) with a bedroom area and a small bathroom. Room types vary greatly as do the costs associated with them. Studio apartments with a separate bedroom and possibly a kitchenette are significantly more expensive than studio apartments and shared apartments with two beds. Regardless of which room type you select; most assisted living apartments rent month-to-month. 

In addition to room and board, assisted living communities offer basic oversight and security for you or your loved one. The assisted living community has a staff member onsight 24/7, although depending on the state, they may not have a nurse on staff at all times. But, in general the community has a basic level of security and someone is on site 24 hours a day and can respond in the event of an emergency.

And finally, assisted living communities offer assistance with activities of daily living. This is provided on an individual, as-needed basis as all residents don’t require the same level of support or care as they age. Many communities will assess your loved one’s needs and quote you a monthly care fee on top of your basic community fee. This fee increases (or decreases) as your loved one needs more (or less) care and assistance. Some communities provide all-in-one pricing, where you pay a flat fee for care and to lease the apartment. 

Assisted Living Fee Break-Down

As we mentioned above, assisted living services generally fall into three categories: room and board, general oversight and assistance with activities of daily living. You can expect to pay a room fee on average of $2,500 – $3,500 and care fees around $1,000 per month. And, most communities charge an initial community fee to process your application 

But, there are additional services provided as part of your room and board fee. The community likely includes three meals a day for assisted living residents in their monthly fee, and possibly access to activities and wellness programs, and common space within the community. The activity and wellness programs may also involve transportation and off-site visits to local community events. Again, these services and programs will vary greatly per community so it’s important to investigate each community in detail before purchasing.

Is It Worth The Cost?

Generally speaking, our experience in working with older adults who want to age-in-place is that if you are in a smaller or average-sized home, on a middle- to fixed-income, and need less than seven hours of paid home care support per day, it’s more affordable to age-in-place than it is to age in an assisted living community.

We typically tell our clients that they should think about senior care as a continuum. Services like CarePods extend older adults’ independence and prevent high-cost emergencies. By using preventive care and putting a strong safety net in place, our clients find they can conserve their funds for future, more intensive residential care should that need regrettably arise.

An assisted living community could be a good fit for someone who is looking to downsize from an expensive and difficult-to-maintain home. Or, for a particularly social person who loves being a part of a bigger community and seeing people every day.

In closing, senior care is a personal journey that is unique to each individual. The good news is that with improvements in technology and at-home support, good care is within everyone’s reach. 






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