If you’ve ever visited an assisted living community, you likely realized it was much more than what you were expecting. Many of today’s assisted living communities offer a vibrant recreational calendar, restaurant-style dining options, and a variety of other amenities. But, understanding the difference between paying a mortgage, and the price structure of an assisted living community can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning.
First, let’s talk about who assisted living most benefits. Whether maintenance of a home has become harder to manage, or taking care of certain aspects (like managing medications or showering alone) has become more difficult, assisted living caters to a wide-variety of older adults. Assisted living provides supportive services for those who do not need round-the-clock skilled nursing care.
Where it can get confusing is sorting through the different cost structures communities offer. Fee for service, all-inclusive, and packaged services are the three different payment structures you may encounter. Since this can vary from community to community, it can make comparing costs difficult to achieve.
There are three typical cost structures you can find in assisted living communities:
- All-inclusive bundles are the easiest to understand. Residents with these packages are entitled to every service that the community offers, though it’s important to know whether there is a cap on the amount of services per resident or if there are some services, such as medication management, that come at an additional expense. The benefit of this plan is that residents know exactly what they are going to pay each month, and they don’t have to worry about tracking how many services they’re using.
- A la carte options allow residents to be charged per service the community provides. The drawback is that, if you want to add on services later, it can cost you more than the all-inclusive package. It can also make budgeting difficult, with potential month to month shifts in the amount you expect to pay.
- Tiered care communities offer a predetermined package of services for residents with a low, medium or high need of assistance. As needs change, packages adjust accordingly. While this may seem like a fairly straight-forward billing structure, there may be services included in packages you pay for that you don’t need.
Privately paying with cash assets isn’t the only way to pay for assisted living. Residents can utilize pensions, veterans’ benefits, liquidate assets (like a home) and much more.
If you’re worried about whether you can afford assisted living for yourself or a loved one, take this quiz to see how well you score.