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senior living costs

How You Can Take Control of Senior Living Costs for Your Loved One

What does senior living cost? That’s one of the first questions asked by families considering this option for their loved one, yet it’s one that’s harder to answer than you may think. You see, there are a number of factors that affect the cost a given family will pay for senior living. Which is actually a good thing because it means that the senior living experience can be more customized than you may realize AND that you’ll have the flexibility your budget may need. Here’s how.

What Affects Senior Living Costs

Senior living has evolved over the years, offering an experience today that fits a range of different needs and wants. With that, you now have more flexibility to choose what works best for your loved one as well as your budget. Especially within these three areas:

  1. Level of Care – First, there are different levels of care in senior living. We’ve defined them in detail in this previous blog [link to Understanding the Different Types of Senior Care], but in terms of cost, the more daily care your loved one needs, the more you’ll pay for senior living.

    To control your costs, consider your loved one’s circumstances carefully. If they don’t necessarily need daily care, but would benefit from having the cooking, housekeeping and home maintenance done for them, plus more social and enrichment opportunities then independent living might be a good fit. That way you would pay less now and could transition to assisted living or memory care later should your loved one’s needs change.
  1. Location – It may seem like a strange comparison, but much like in real estate, senior living costs are also affected by location. You can expect a difference in cost not only depending on whether the community is in the city or the suburbs, but also depending on the state or even the part of the country you are in. For example, according to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, assisted living is most expensive in Delaware, averaging $6,690 per month for a private, one-bedroom. While it’s least expensive in Missouri, averaging $3,000 for a private, one-bedroom.

    We’re certainly not suggesting you move your loved one across the country so you can pay less, rather simply be open to considering communities in less expensive areas should your ideal location strain your budget. 
  1. Amenities & Services – This is where you can really loosen or pull in the purse strings depending on what your loved one needs and wants from their senior living experience. Most senior living communities have just about any amenity they could desire, but it may come at an extra cost. Typically, things like weekly housekeeping, home maintenance, dining, scheduled transportation, activities and maybe even some utilities are included in the monthly fee. However, luxuries like concierge services and private transportation are add-ons. As are bringing a pet and opting for private and/or larger accommodations.

    Controlling your costs here really comes down to your budget and how you prioritize. Bringing your loved one’s pet if the community is pet friendly may be a necessity as is having private accommodations. But they could sacrifice the two-bedroom and concierge services to make the cost work for your budget, for example.

Senior Living Costs Compared to Home

When budgeting, you’re likely comparing senior living costs to what you currently spend monthly at home. But, don’t make the mistake of comparing those senior living costs just to your loved one’s mortgage or rent. The out-of-pocket costs are much more when you consider what’s spent on food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and entertainment each month. It’s vital to include those because, as we mention above, they are included in the monthly senior living cost.

Don’t forget the cost of home health services too if your loved one needs care as well as any necessary home modifications. Once you’ve tallied all this, your monthly senior living costs may actually be cheaper!

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For more information download our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing or call (224) 333-6247 to speak to a team member.