“How could I possibly afford assisted living?” That might be the sentiment that echoes through your mind as you consider the possibility of needing assisted living. But, take a deep breath and relax – it might not be as difficult as you thought.
As you add up your current spending, you just might find that assisted living costs are comparable to what you're already spending.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Assisted living provides all your living expenses
You might be tempted to compare the monthly cost of assisted living to your monthly rent or mortgage payment and, side by side, the cost of assisted living may look considerably more expensive. But assisted living costs are not just the cost of a place to live. Consider all the expenses incurred in one month of independent living:
- homeowners association fees or condo fees
- homeowners/renters insurance
- property taxes
- yard care (lawn mowing, garden maintenance, weed control, landscaping)
- snow removal
- furnace inspections
- repairs (lightbulbs, paint, carpeting)
- cleaning supplies or cleaning service
- holiday decorating
- vehicle loan payments
- oil changes
- vehicle insurance
*groceries/meal service/eating out
*beauty and wellness (gym membership, hair/nail salon expenses, clubs/activities)
*medical appointments (physicians, podiatrists, therapists)
Assisted living is providing for all these needs and more – 24-hour supervision, medication monitoring, home-cooked meals prepared and served, and a social environment.
After adding all that up, now how does it compare to the cost of assisted living per month?
OK, OK, so maybe it doesn’t cost more than your current expenses, but what if you are already barely able to keep up financially?
2. Consider all sources of income, and you might find that assisted living is within your price range.
When calculating income sources, be sure to include:
- 401K/403B retirement plans
- social security/disability
- insurance payments received
- long-term care insurance
- life insurance
- and any income you might receive from the sale of your home and/or property (vehicles, furniture, etc.)
Still not sure you can afford it?
3. Here are some ways you might be able to make assisted living more affordable:
- Research your options. There are varying levels of independence and care throughout senior living communities. This article on assisted living options might help you find exactly what you need so you aren’t paying for more than what’s necessary.
- Plan ahead. Decide which assisted living location would be a good fit for you and get on the waiting list, if possible. If you wait until the last minute, you may end up having to pay more for a community that has available space but is out of your price range.
- Inquire as to whether the pricing is negotiable. You just might be able to bargain for a lower price.
- Expand your radius. A location just outside of your city might provide the same services at a lower cost.
- Explore funding options before you need them. Options like long-term care insurance could fill in any gaps in resources.
- Take advantage of veterans benefits if those are available to you.
- Consider a companion room, which may be more cost-effective than a private room.
Although the thought of assisted living can be daunting, upon considering all these factors, you just might find that assisted living is affordable after all . . . and breathe a sigh of relief.