In deciding how to make the most of this phase in life, there’s a lot to consider. One of the most important is where you’ll live as really everything else builds from that. When comparing home to senior living communities, often the driving factor is cost and the assumption is that senior living is always more expensive. But you know what they say about those who assume. We can make sure you avoid that mistake by helping you compare the true costs of living at home versus senior living communities.
First, it’s important to understand that senior living is not one size fits all. Whether it’s level of care or amenities, it can seem like the options are endless. And while that customization to your needs is a wonderful thing; it can be confusing at times. Let’s break it down:
- Independent Living – A lifestyle choice for seniors who require little daily assistance, but seek a vibrant social community free of the hassles of chores and home upkeep.
- Assisted Living – Provides housing and assistance with daily tasks to support your independence in addition to many of the same amenities as independent living.
- Memory Care – An environment designed for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia that includes 24-hour supervision, structured activities and a secure environment with specially-trained staff.
- Age is Just a Number – Approximately 60 percent of centenarians say they don’t feel old and the rest said they didn’t start to feel that way until they were in their 80s.
- Skilled Nursing – A higher level of supervision and care than in assisted living with24/7 nursing and physical, speech and occupational therapists also onsite.
You also have options for care at home including:
- Home Health Care – These services include personal care, household chores, cooking, transportation, occupational, physical and/or speech therapy and can be provided on an hourly, as needed or 24/7 live-in basis.
- Adult Day Care – Offers care during normal business hours, five days a week that typically includes meals and snacks, health monitoring, medication assistance and fitness, as well as enrichment programs and social activities.
Understanding the Financial Costs
As you can imagine, the cost is not one size fits all either. There are a number of factors that affect it including geography, but one of the biggest is the level of care. That’s why you’ll see the cost rise as more support is needed in senior living, and at home. Here’s what you can expect on average monthly from the Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey:
- Home Health Care
- Homemaker Services —$4,004
- Home Health Aide Services —$4,195
- Adult Day Care
In Senior Living
- Assisted living
- Private, one-bedroom: $4,000
- Skilled nursing
- Semi-private room: $7,441; Private room: $8,365
Unlike other levels of care, there is little published data on average monthly costs for independent living and memory care because it varies so greatly. However, typical ranges are as follows:
- Independent Living
- $1,400 to $4,000 per month
- Memory Care
- $2,000 to $7,000 per month
Be Real in Your Comparison
More often than not we see seniors comparing the monthly cost of senior living communities to their mortgage or rent alone which is not an apples to apples comparison. You must compare to the total monthly cost of living at home which also includes your food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and entertainment costs. Why is this so important? Because these things are typically included in the monthly cost of senior living!
And don’t leave out the cost of any home health care (and/or home modifications) to support your needs. Would you believe that as many as four out of five adults underestimate this? According to the Genworth Long Term Care/Caregiving Online Survey the average American actually underestimates the cost by almost 50 percent. Not only is this important in comparing senior living costs, underestimating could mean a huge hit to your budget.
Once you look at the real comparison, you may be surprised to find senior living is actually less expensive in some cases!
Consider the Emotional Cost
We mentioned above how everything else in your life builds from where you live, or more specifically, how quality of life is directly tied to your environment. Beyond the financial there’s also an emotional cost that must be considered. Yes, it can be hard to leave home. But, what’s the emotional toll on you or your loved ones as they take on caregiving roles? How about your own concerns such as home safety and transportation? In addition, do you have enough social and enrichment opportunities to keep you fulfilled?
That’s really where the value of senior living comes into play: the positive impact on quality of life. That emotional cost is replaced with freedom, fulfillment and peace of mind in senior living communities. You’ll have a worry-free lifestyle without unexpected expenses, chores or home maintenance, and the freedom to enjoy a full calendar of social, fitness and enrichment opportunities along with a host of amenities like restaurant-style dining, pool and fitness center. What’s more you’ll have the added peace of mind that support is always available if, and when, you need it. And what might be considered invaluable to you; that instead of caregiving your family can enjoy life right alongside you!
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