Assisted living facilities are an option for seniors who generally lead active, independent lives, but also require some help. Residents’ needs commonly consist of support for activities of daily living (ADL) and moderate medical care. The average monthly cost of such accommodations is considerable, ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 (depending on amenities and location).
Many adults have a retirement plan or some sort of personal savings. But, things happen. Circumstances change. And, unexpected expenses can throw a wrench into your plans. If assisted living is an option you’re considering, start your research here with these five tips.
1. Understand how assisted living is charged.
What is assisted living? Well, it’s a home that offers help with ADLs, a variety of amenities, and some light medical care. That’s actually a lot of services! So, you should expect to pay for it all. There are generally two ways assisted living is charged: a la carte and all-inclusive.
A La Carte
An a la carte bill will be itemized. It will usually include monthly rent (room and board), care service fees, medication management, medical assistance, and other housekeeping or repair services. Charges for some recreational activities may also show up here. When moving into a facility that uses an a la carte structure, be sure to ask what’s offered and for how much, so you can budget accordingly!
All-inclusive is exactly how it sounds. There will be one monthly fee that covers rent and all amenities and services you may use. However, with this type of billing, sometimes the extent to which some services can be used is capped. As always, ask questions before moving in!
2. Get familiar with state resources.
Did you know that every state has multiple Area Agencies on Aging? These are public agencies designed to address the needs of seniors on a state level. Your local department of aging can connect you with specialists, help find affordable care, and even locate senior discounts.
3. Know what Medicare covers.
It’s no secret that Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, so don’t count on it to flip your bill for rent. However, under the right circumstances, assisted living residents can still use it in other ways. Here’s how:
If you receive any medically necessary skilled nursing care while in assisted living, it may be covered by Original Medicare (Parts A & B). Treatments such as daily injections, IV therapy, or wound care are examples. Also, if you ever find yourself in the hospital for inpatient care, Medicare coverage can be used.
Your Medicare Advantage Plan most likely won’t pay for any custodial care. But, it will pay for some skilled nursing, prescription medications, and even emergency services. Check your health plan for specific info!
Medicare Part D will pay for prescription medication, even while residing in assisted living!
4. Utilize long-term care insurance.
Long-term care insurance policies usually state that you become eligible for benefit payouts when you’re unable to perform at least two of six ADLs (bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, caring for incontinence, and transferring). Much of the assistance in assisted living is with ADLs, so this is a great payment option if you’ve invested in a policy. The average premium may seem costly at around $2,000 per year. But, the payout will be well worth it (remember, assisted living can cost up to $6,000 a month in some areas!).
5. Take advantage of your assets.
Selling your home can be a great method for affording long-term care. It’s simple really: you’re moving to a new home anyway, so pitch that “For Sale” sign and use the profit to pay your bill. Of course, keep in mind that selling your home can affect Medicaid eligibility. You should check Medicaid.gov to learn more about Medicaid eligibility in your state.
Got other assets? Investments, inventory, and even personal belongings can be sold for some fast cash too. Just make sure to consult with family members or a financial advisor about what to sell and how to start!
Ready to start searching for an assisted living facility?
Around 8 million adults per year receive some sort of long-term care. Before moving, make sure to do your research! Assisted living can be costly, but utilizing your resources and sticking to a budget can help. To find assisted living near you, start here:
And, don’t forget to check out these other resources:
Administration for Community Living
Bob Carlson’s Retirement Watch
Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program
National Center for Assisted Living