Cost of Assisted Living vs Cost of Staying at Home: What You Should Know

Today, older adults have a variety of resources and options to support them and their wellness goals. This is certainly excellent news, but too many choices can also lead to some confusion as seniors and their family members try to pick the best solution for their situation. For most seniors, financial feasibility is at the top of the list of priorities when finding the right assistance or support.For seniors who are attempting to choose between home care and assisted living, many assume that staying at home will be better for their budget. There are many aspects to consider when comparing the costs associated with each solution, and many might surprise you. 

For many people, assisted living is much more affordable than it may seem. In fact, it is quite possible that you could end up saving money by opting out of living at home alone and moving into an assisted living community.

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Comparing the costs

Breaking down monthly and annual expenditures can be overwhelming at first. However, if you are able to take the time to review those costs, you can get a more accurate picture of the money you or your loved one is currently spending while living at home in the community. To help get you started, here are just a few things to consider.

Costs Associated with Living at Home

For seniors living at home in the greater community, monthly and annual costs can add up quickly. In addition to a monthly mortgage payment, homeowners are also responsible for property taxes assessed yearly. With American monthly mortgage payments averaging a little more than $1,000, and property taxes averaging around $2,000 per year, the costs of living at home start off at a high rate.

Beyond mortgage and property taxes, seniors living in the community are also responsible for monthly payments for utilities. Electricity, water, gas, and garbage pickup can average up to $200 per month, and access to Wi-Fi, cable, and phone services can make a monthly budget increase further while living at home. In addition to these expenses, don’t forget to add any home health services that you or your loved one may need on a regular basis. With the average home health aide costing $20-$30 per hour (and visiting nurses’ rates even higher), it is easy to incur hundreds of dollars in home healthcare costs each week or month, depending on the needs of your loved one.

As you continue to work out your budget, consider grocery costs or meal delivery services for the month, any regularly scheduled housekeeping services, cab fare or transportation costs to get to the store or the doctor, and any money spent on time with friends. You may be surprised by how much you or your loved one is actually spending per month.

Finally, take a moment to review money spent on entertainment or socialization opportunities. Seniors who live at home alone are more vulnerable to negative health consequences caused by loneliness, which means that any money put toward grabbing coffee with a friend or seeing a movie with a grandchild is well spent.

Costs Associated with Living in an Assisted Living Community

The national average monthly payment for living in an assisted living community is $3,500. Though this number is certainly higher than a $1,000 mortgage, this fee often includes much more than simple room and board. Residents living in assisted living are treated to included costs and do not pay extra for utilities. Many assisted living communities also provide residents with access to free cable, phone service, and even Wi-Fi as part of their monthly fee.

But the included amenities don’t stop with internet access and garbage disposal. Assisted living residents also receive three delicious and nutritious meals per day at no additional cost, along with regular housekeeping services. Transportation is offered on a regular schedule for most assisted living communities at no cost to residents and typically offers service to local grocery stores, churches, and doctor’s offices. 

Finally, monthly fees include access to a lively and engaging calendar of on-site events and trips. These additional opportunities to socialize with neighbors and develop new friendships with peers will result in physical, emotional, and mental health benefits, making it worth the investment.

Monthly fees for assisted living residents also include access to the most important part of senior living: quality care and monitoring. With caregivers on staff 24 hours per day, assisted living communities give residents and their families peace of mind in knowing residents are well taken care of, healthy, and happy. This reassurance, many would agree, is priceless.

Choosing the best option for yourself or your aging family member means taking an honest look at the budget. You can better compare current costs with projected assisted living costs by using our cost calculator tool. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that exceptional assisted living is in the budget after all.

This post was updated in December 2020.

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