The decision to move to a senior care home or assisted living community is difficult in the best of situations, and worry about ever-growing healthcare expenses make matters even worse.
It’s difficult to know what to expect because there are so many factors to consider when it comes to senior living expenses, but the right information can help you plan ahead. The good news is that there are several ways to pay for senior care.
Often referred to as a community or neighborhood, assisted living is an option for people who are no longer comfortable living on their own. Although residents maintain a high level of independence, they may need help with basic healthcare and bathing or other tasks of day-to-day life. However, each community is different and the level of care varies.
In 2017, the average monthly cost of assisted living in the United States ranged from $2,600 to $5,750 depending on the state, with an average cost across the nation of $3,750 per month. In some senior living situations, seniors pay a monthly base rate plus extra fees depending on additional services required.
Nursing Homes: Long-Term Care
Nursing homes, also known as long-term care communities, provide skilled nursing around the clock, including help with bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and other necessities. The average cost for a semi-private room in 2017 ranged from $145 to $800 per day, with an average monthly cost across the nation of about $7,150 per month. Costs tend to be higher in Alaska, Hawaii and the Northeastern states and significantly lower in the midwest and southeast.
Seniors who prefer single rooms can expect to pay considerably more. In 2017, the cost for a single room averaged $8,120 per month.
The cost is substantially higher for seniors who need specialized care for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. As a general rule, figure the cost of a nursing home plus an additional 20 to 30 percent, or an average of about $1,200 per month.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) accommodate changing needs via a tiered approach. For example, a person might move into an apartment or condo and live completely independently, then into assisted living and onto skilled nursing as needs change.
While CCRC offers convenience and peace of mind, it is also the most expensive option, especially for people in declining health. Most CCRCs require a one-time entrance fee ranging from $60,000 to $120,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of approximately $500 to $3,000.
Ultimately, the cost varies widely depending on location and various factors such as current health status and type of care, which may be long-term or life care, modified care or fee for service.
Financing Senior Care
Medicare is a type of health insurance that may help seniors who need doctor-prescribed care for a limited period of time. However, it isn’t a viable answer to financing any type of long-term care, including assisted living or nursing homes.
Medicaid is a government-funded assistance program that helps when seniors can’t afford to pay for long-term care on their own. Most nursing homes and assisted living communities accept Medicaid, although the amount may vary and strict financial guidelines apply.
Veterans aid may provide financial assistance to veterans age 65 and older, but only when genuinely in need. Level of assistance depends on available income and assets, with final decisions made on a case by case basis.
Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance that helps cover the cost of care for seniors who need help with a chronic or disabling condition for an extended time. The insurance is pricier than house or car insurance, but can be useful in some circumstances. Factors to consider include your age, general health, income, savings and investments. Various types of coverage are available. In some cases, premiums for long-term care insurance are tax deductible.
Reverse mortgages, also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), provide a way for seniors to withdraw equity, depending on the value of their home. No repayment is required until the borrower dies, sells or moves out of the home. The amount available depends on a number of factors, including age, appraised value of the home and current interest rate. Closing costs and fees can be high.
How Senior Care Affects your Taxes
The cost of senior living, including assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities, may be tax deductible, but only if the person is chronically ill and requires medical care.
However, senior living may not be covered if the person is there for custodial purposes. In that case, only specific medical expenses are deductible, which means lodging and meals aren’t covered. However, cost of prescription medications, wheelchairs, medical fees, lab tests, physical therapy, nursing services and other expenses are usually covered.
If you have any questions regarding cost considerations for senior living, contact us today. We'd love to chat!