4 Ways to Determine the True Costs of Assisted Living
Caregivers often report feeling frustrated as they try to determine the true cost of assisted living for their loved one. There may be a price list detailing the different costs of, say a studio, a one bedroom, or two bedroom apartment, but that doesn't always tell the whole story. What about meals? What about cleaning services? Will these added expenses combine to price you out of something you thought was affordable?
Indeed, many caregivers are taken aback when they discover unexpected costs that may exceed their budget, leaving them feeling stressed and even deceived. You deserve to know exactly how much it will cost to transition your loved one into an assisted living community. How else will you be able to make accurate comparisons?
It will be up to you to research these hidden costs and to factor them into your ultimate decision. So, to help you be as prepared as possible, here are four categories that are often overlooked but can add significant expenses.
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Depending on the senior living communities you are researching, you may find that some of them require a down payment. It's not terribly unusual for any type of housing to require some money up front. For instance, rentals often ask for a security deposit, and mortgages come with closing costs. But it is important for caregivers and family members to ask some very important questions about the purpose of this down payment, and how it will be used.
Sometimes, communities will ask for a certain amount of money up front to reserve a space. You will want to find out how far in advance this down payment is owed, and exactly what it is guaranteeing. Depending on the community, these upfront payments may be quite steep, and families who are unprepared can wind up with a bad case of "sticker shock."
To help make sense of the down payment, ask if any portion of it will be used toward your loved ones living costs. In other words, is the price so high because you are paying for a year's worth of expenses in advance? Or is this a one time fee that doesn't offset any monthly expenses at all?
Another often overlooked set of expenses are moving costs. Any time you move from one place to another, you incur extra expenses, some of them quite significant. These costs are usually completely out of the hands of assisted living communities, and instead fall to moving companies. Some caregivers are so focused on the expenses originating from their loved one's new home that they completely forget about how much it will cost to get them there.
Chances are pretty good that your loved one will not be packing and moving themselves, so you have a few decisions to make. Will friends and family handle all the packing and transportation? Will you need to rent a truck? Will you need to hire a moving company? What about supplies like boxes, bubble wrap, and tape?
Moving expenses can range from the price of a few tanks of gas, to full-scale moving and packing services through a professional company. Decide which services are needed for your specific situation, and begin comparing prices.
Sometimes as our loved ones grow older, their medical needs become more pressing. One of the most comforting aspects of assisted living is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that highly skilled medical staff is always close at hand. But how does the community determine the cost of these medical services?
There are many different levels of assisted living available, ranging from active senior communities, to long-term rehabilitation centers, to hospice care centers. Because each type of community presents their own unique medical services and options, they will typically have different price ranges.
Some good questions to ask include: "Will insurance cover any part of this?" "What if my loved one's medical needs increase or decrease during their stay?" “Is medical attention handled by a flat fee, or is there a case-by-case charge?"
Understanding the medical care pricing structure will help you get a more clear picture of the cost of assisted living communities you are considering.
One of the best parts of assisted living communities for seniors is the easy access to services or activities that they might not otherwise be able to enjoy. For instance, some communities offer salons and/or barbershops right on the premises. Not only does this allow the residents to look and feel their best, but it also means that there is no longer a drive or a bus ride between them and the services they need.
The amenities available in each community will vary. Some may offer simple accommodations such as rides to the grocery store or assistance with house cleaning, while others may feature state-of-the-art fitness centers, spas, and dry-cleaning services. Find out if residents will have unlimited access to these luxuries as part of their monthly payments, or if each service will be paid for individually.
As a general rule, the more added luxuries, the higher the cost. You understand what is most appropriate for your loved ones overall health and well-being. If you feel they could benefit from a few added luxuries, they may be well worth the money. However, if you do not think they will take advantage of certain activities or services, you can save that money.
Comparing the cost of assisted living communities can become an intense and time-consuming process. It is a very important decision, and one that should not be made lightly, but that doesn't mean you have to be completely stressed over it either. Understanding these hidden costs will help you compare prices and value more accurately, and allow you to make more informed decisions. For a more in-depth look at the cost of assisted living communities, please download our free guide titled "Seniorcare Transitions – What Are Your Payment Options?"
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!
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