Assisted Living Costs

Costs of senior living can vary widely depending on the setting & needs of each individual. It is important to not only consider the current needs but plan for future needs and costs as needs increase.  Many people initially try to keep their loved one at home, but quickly find out that in home care is the most expensive care option.  For those who require 24hr care & supervision, live in care costs for in home care, can cost as much as $18,000 per month.  Assisted Living and Residential Care Homes are more affordable care options.  Below we discuss not only the dollar costs but the emotional and physical costs as well

Dollar Costs

costs up street signTypically, the base rate for independent living can range between $1,500-$3,000 per month. That includes the room/apartment, meals and weekly cleaning/laundry service. Personal care assistance and medication management are add-on costs and not included in the basic monthly fee.  Additional nonmedical custodial services or personal care services in Assisted Living facilities are offered on a A-La- Cart or tiered billing systems and quickly raises Assisted Living prices to $4,000-$6,000 per month depending on the level of care. In some cases, Assisted Livings Facilities are unable to provide the additional services, at any cost, and may ask the resident to move to a higher level of care.

Higher levels of care include a Residential Care Home or Nursing Home.  Residential Care Homes typically range in cost from $3000 – $6000/mo. and provide a high level of custodial care and medication management included in the monthly rate. Residential care homes are a good value for seniors as their care needs increase. 

Memory Care or Dementia Care is the most expensive.  Memory care units can range from 4,000 to $8,000 per month or more.  Dementia endorsed Residential Care homes, which are the equivalent of an inpatient memory care unit utilize an inclusive billing system and typically range from $3000 – $6000/mo. 

In general, smaller, more personal senior care choices like Residential Care Homes are more cost effective.  Tender Loving Care Senior Residence is a good alternative that offers a high level of continuity, coordination & leadership from a geriatric doctor, in a small personal, single-family home at an affordable price.

Physical & Emotional Costs

Womoan holding her head in her hands, concerned, frustratedWhile the dollar cost is typically the focus of assisted care, we believe the physical & emotional cost for family caregivers is significantly understated.  When the care needs of a loved one start to increase the brunt of the responsibility and work often gets shifted to one family caregiver, often a spouse or adult child. We are often not prepared to accommodate the increased needs and do our best to scramble and provide the extra care that is required not considering the physical and emotional toll it will take on the family caregiver.  Frequently, family caregivers do not get adequate sleep and often try to balance work and personal lives with making sure their loved one has the appropriate care and neglecting their own needs.  This can cause added stress and effect the caregiver’s health and well-being.

Commonly people try Respite Care and pay for a home care agency or PCA agency to send a home care assistant to help.  However, this is usually a short-term fix because it is extremely expensive and does not provide the back up and relief that many expect. They are still left providing most of the care, coordination & supervision of home care workers, transportation increasing their stress levels. For those who care for someone with cognitive impairment or dementia there is a significant toll on the caregiver who has to deal with behaviors issues of repetitive thoughts, paranoia, aggression or combativeness. 

What is needed is a longer-term view and plan that accounts for the increased care needs that are expected a few months down the road.  Advanced planning can significantly reduce caregiver burnout and help the senior who has the chronic care needs. 

Senior care planning is a complex and there are no easy answers.  The best plans involve input from your loved one’s doctor, if they are willing and able to participate in the long-term care plan.  If not, we suggest each individual and family seek out an experienced Geriatric doctor who has broad based medical and non-medical knowledge & experience in the various long-term care settings to help the individual and their family understand the local resources, their dollar costs and overall relative costs over the long term. With any senior care option, it is important to know WHO is providing the Care & Service. Read more WHO you get determines the quality of care