In general, the cost of assisted living must be paid from your own private funds. Medicare, Medigap, and private insurance do not pay for assisted living. For individuals with low incomes and limited resources, Medicaid may pay for certain health care services, medical equipment, and medications, but Medicaid generally does not pay rent, room and board in an assisted living facility. Some states have Medicaid waiver programs that cover a portion of assisted living costs, but these waivers are only available to a very small number of individuals.
Some long-term care insurance policies provide coverage for assisted living, but others do not. If you own a long-term care insurance policy, review the policy for information on assisted living coverage.Some people use reverse mortgages, annuities or life insurance to pay for assisted living. Also, some charitable organizations make funds available for assisted living residents that can no longer pay their monthly expenses. If you are concerned you may run out of money and need to rely on government assistance, becoming informed about Medicaid is a must.
Benefits of Assisted Living
The services and amenities available in assisted living vary by facility. Most assisted living communities offer the following services, conveniences, and amenities:
Private apartments, cottages or villas
Cooked meals, meal services, dining rooms or cafeterias
Assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and taking medication, if necessary
Showers and baths with safety features and handicapped accessibility
No property taxes
Professionally landscaped grounds and maintenance services
Laundry, linen, and housekeeping services
Transportation arrangements and buses to shopping, groceries, and restaurants
Physician or nurse on-site
Gym, exercise room, swimming pool, and exercise classes
Computer room or assistance with computers and related equipment
Emergency call response system
Social activities, events, outings, clubs, and entertainment
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
The cost of assisted living varies depending on factors such as location, amenities, and the amount of services the resident requires. For example, if the resident needs assistance bathing and dressing, the cost of assisted living will be higher than for someone that can perform these functions independently.In some parts of the country, the monthly cost of a one bedroom assisted living apartment may be as low as 1,500 dollars and in others, as high as 4,000. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost in 2009 for a one bedroom unit in assisted living in the U.S. was 3,131 dollars per month.When reviewing the cost of assisted living, be aware many expenses you may be accustomed to paying for a house or condo are included in the monthly fee for the assisted living unit. For example, you will not pay for real property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, home repairs, and landscaping. Also, some utility expenses, such as trash removal, may be included in your monthly rent. After taking these savings into account, assisted living may be more economical.If you are considering moving to assisted living, ask to review their resident contract or assisted living agreement. This contract should clearly state the up-front or entrance fees, monthly rent, and any other fees or expenses you will be charged. Do not sign any contract without carefully reviewing it. You should always consult a lawyer before signing an assisted living contract. If the agreement contains hidden fees, rental increases, or is difficult to terminate, you could spend down your retirement savings more quickly than planned.
Do Assisted Living Facilities Accept Pets?
Many assisted living facilities do not accept pets. However, some assisted living facilities offer pet friendly units for those who can live fairly independently. For example, some assisted living communities allow cats and small dogs in their single family homes or villas, but not in their apartment buildings. If you have a large dog, it will be more difficult to find assisted living. If you have a cat or small dog and are willing to pay an additional monthly pet fee, there is a greater likelihood you will find an assisted living community for you and your pet.If you plan to take your pet to assisted living, try to make arrangements with a pet guardian or pet retirement home by using a pet trust, so there is someone to care for your pet if you become disabled. Even if you never need a pet caregiver, it is good to make legal arrangments with someone who is willing to provide a safety net for your pet. See our article on unwanted pets about the risks your pet faces if something happens to you and is not a part of your estate plan.