When you are considering an assisted living community for your parents or loved one, it is important to know how much you can expect to pay so you can budget for your loved ones appropriately.
The cost of joining an assisted living community varies upon several factors which typically include:
- Geographic location of the community
- Size of accommodations selected
- Level of care required
- Additional amenity and service fees
Assisted Living Costs by State
Just as the cost of real estate varies by geographic area, assisted living costs also vary nationwide. In the 2015 Cost of Care Survey conducted by Genworth Financial, assisted living showed an increase of 2.86% compared to the 2014 costs and the national median monthly rate is $3,600. Residents of assisted living communities can typically expect a 4.28% annual increase in their base rate.
The table below shows the range of monthly assisted living costs by state in 2015* for a one-bedroom, single-occupancy assisted living apartment.
|District of Columbia||$4,950||$7,838||$8,600|
*From the Genworth Financial 2015 Cost of Care Survey.
The states with the most expensive median monthly assisted living costs are:
- District of Columbia – $7,838
- Delaware – $5,745
- New Jersey – $5,725
- Alaska – $5,703
- Connecticut – $5,575
The states with the least expensive median monthly assisted living costs are:
- Missouri – $2,525
- Georgia – $2,880
- North Carolina – $3,000
- Utah – $3,000
- Louisiana – $3,010
Size of Accommodations Selected
When joining an assisted living community, new residents can typically choose from several apartment types and sizes including studio, studio alcove, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The size of an apartment and apartment features, such as a kitchen or private patio or balcony, determines its monthly rate, as does the location of the apartment with regard to views and proximity to elevators and public areas.
While it’s common for families or seniors to prefer larger apartments, it’s important to remember that the entire community becomes a resident’s home. In addition, if your parents have mobility issues, which could contribute to a higher risk of falling, you should minimize the amount of walking between rooms that is required.
Typically communities offer either a month-to-month leases or one-year leases that may be renewed.
Level of Care Required
Either upon admission and when residents require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), a licensed nurse conducts an assessment which forms the basis of a care plan that outlines the level and frequency of supportive services that will be provided. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, assisted living residents need help with three or more ADLs on average. More than half of all seniors residing in assisted living communities require help with preparing meals, managing their medications and bathing.
|Activity of Daily Living||% of Residents Needing Help|
In most cases a point system or levels of care are used to breakdown the costs for assisted living services. When a point system is used, each type of care and the frequency in which it’s provided determines the assisted living cost. For example, medication management/administration once a day may cost an additional $150 per month while the same service provided three times a day may cost an additional $300 per month.
Levels of care may be based upon a point system as well, with this type of cost determination often providing less flexibility in assisted living costs. For example, a resident may fall between a Level One and a Level Two but they must pay for Level Two care as their needs exceed Level One.
Additional Costs Found at Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities charge a refundable deposit fee, which secures a particular apartment within the community for a specific period of time (usually two weeks). Once a resident moves in, this deposit usually applies toward the one-time community fee (terms for the name of this fee may vary). Ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, this fee is non-refundable and covers administrative expenses and the cost of apartment renovations between residents.
Other assisted living costs may include fees for private transportation, off-site activities, guest meals and use of a guest apartment within the community. There may also be a monthly second person fee if a couple lives together or a pet fee.
More Information on Assisted Living Costs
For more information on how to pay for assisted living costs, check out the following articles:
- Paying for Assisted Living
- Long-Term Care Costs: A Primer
- Veterans Benefits: A Brief Overview
- Long-Term Insurance: Planning For Your Future
Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.