It may be time to move into a retirement community if you begin to need frequent in-home care.
However, how much will it cost to do so? Is it cheaper to stay in your current home and age in place? Are there any benefits associated with retirement homes?
This article will give you a fair idea of the cost of senior living communities and additional costs to look out for when choosing a retirement facility.
What are Senior Living Communities?
A senior living community refers to the different care and housing provisions for persons, 55 years of age and older.
They are designed to cater to a wide variety of needs and lifestyles.
These communities give the residents a sense of freedom and purpose, as community employees take care of housekeeping, laundry, cooking, and other responsibilities.
Here is a breakdown of the different types of retirement communities and their average costs.
Assisted living communities provide personal care services, including administering medication, helping with bathing, dressing, and getting seniors to and from the toilet.
As you may have guessed, assisted living can be quite expensive, considering the services. You can expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 or more per month, depending on the amenities offered and the location.
Seniors who don’t require assistance with personal care are best suited for independent living communities. These are typically people aged 55 and over.
These communities usually don’t provide personal care needs or medical care. This brings the average cost of independent living communities to around $2,800 per month.
Nursing homes offer the highest level of medical care, so it is best suited for seniors with severe mobility problems, dementia, mental issues, blindness, stroke, amputation, diabetes complication, and other severe conditions.
A private room in a nursing home for seniors can cost around $8,500 or more per month and shared rooms can go for $7,500 or more per month.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
CCRCs are the most expensive options for senior living communities. They provide almost all levels of care, so seniors can move into the facilities based on their current needs and transition to higher care levels as their needs change over time.
While monthly fees can range from $2,000 to about $7,000, the entrance fees for CCRCs can be anywhere from $100,000 to over $1 million, depending on the services, amenities, and location.
Regardless of the type of senior living community that suits you, payment of entrance fees is normal before moving in. The cost implications are as follows:
Entrance fees are usually one-time payments that seniors make to move into a retirement community. The exact fee can vary from $1,200 to about a million dollars. The reason for this wide margin is the vast range of options available.
In some cases, the entrance fee can either be rebatable or non-refundable.
Rebatable fees are typically higher, but as the name suggests, part of that amount is rebatable. This means at the demise of a resident, his or her heirs will receive an agreed percentage of the entrance fee. The same applies if the resident moves out. In some cases, the percentage can be up to 50% or more, depending on the contract terms.
Also known as fully amortized fees, non-refundable fees usually carry a lower price tag. But there are no rebates with this option, so your heirs or estates will not receive any percentage in case you move out or die while living in the community.
The average monthly cost of senior living communities depends on the type of services specific facilities offer.
For example, in addition to the apartment, some senior living communities provide add-ons, such as on-site medical resources, fitness centers, swimming pools, laundry services, and upscale dining among others. All of these are designed to make life safer, easier, and fun for residents.
While monthly fees may vary, you can expect to part with the following for medical needs based on national averages:
Memory care units – price differs based on location.
Skilled nursing units – between $1,500 to 10,700 per month.
Assisted living facilities – between $1,500 to 6,500 per month.
Why Should You Live in Senior Communities?
Many seniors want to stay in their current homes while they age. This is known as aging in place, and it is okay.
However, staying in your current home can pose some challenges, including social isolation, especially as seniors become less mobile and lose touch with their support network.
On the other hand, moving into a retirement facility can bring the following benefits:
Living in a retirement community eliminates the need to spend additional money on home modifications, such as stairlifts, adding support bars to bathtubs, and providing safer flooring options.
This means, while the cost of senior living communities may seem higher upfront, it is actually cheaper in the long run.
Living communities allow seniors to spend time and connect with like-minded people. This can lead to a stronger immune system, lower risk of dementia, and may also make seniors live longer.
Many living communities offer amenities that make life easier. Some retirement homes give seniors access to fitness classes, personal care facilities, healthcare facilities, and even adult education.
This makes life in the community more convenient. You may not even need to own or ride a car in the community, especially if transport services are offered. Besides, with nearly everything you need close to your apartment, you can seize the opportunity to take walks from one place to another and put in a good workout.
It Makes You Feel Safe
Lastly, but of equal importance, senior living communities are safe. You can take a stroll around the community or travel for an extended visit without having to worry about burglars, miscreants, and insecurity in general.
Living communities are often secure with many facilities having security personnel manning the gates.
What Influence the Cost of Senior Living Communities?
Certain factors are responsible for the seemingly high cost of senior living communities. These include:
The high cost of living: Living expenses are going through the roof, no thanks to inflation. This translates to a higher cost of providing care, amenities, and services to residents in senior living communities.
Skyrocketing healthcare expenses: Many seniors have to add healthcare expenses to their already overstretched budget due to Medicare cutbacks. Unfortunately, some doctors are not willing to accept new patients, especially since the patients don’t get reimbursed as they used to.
Housing-related setbacks: The mortgage crisis didn’t exempt seniors, as many of them losing their homes and a large number falling behind in their payments. Turning to family members for help isn’t really a solution since nearly everyone is experiencing the pinch from the failing economy. This creates a huge housing problem and apartments in living communities also take the hit.
Hidden Costs to Be Aware Of
The total cost of senior living communities usually includes a few other fees that you may need to be aware of initially. These include:
Community fee: You may be charged a community fee before you move into an assisted living community. The fee varies between facilities, but it typically covers preparing your living space and the move-in process.
Utilities: Certain utilities, such as telephone, internet, and the cable may not be built into the utility cost of some senior living communities. Be sure to check what costs are included in the retirement facility you are looking into.
Associated cost of increased care needs: The cost of providing care may increase as your needs change. If you are considering a community, make sure they will notify you about changes in the cost of care needs.
Second occupancy: You will likely pay an additional monthly fee for second occupancy if you share an apartment with your partner in an assisted living community. This cost will cover meals, utilities, and other services for your spouse or partner.
Out of community: In some communities, residents still have to pay fees, even when they are away on trips. Make sure the retirement facility you choose has the option to stop care, even if the basic rent is ongoing.
Laundry: You may have to pay extra for housekeeping and laundry services in some assisted living communities.
Transportation: Keep in mind that some communities may not offer complimentary transportation, or the service may be limited to a few days of the week and cover only a few miles within the community.
The cost of senior living communities will vary depending on your location and whether you choose an Assisted Living Facility or an Independent Living Community.
Before deciding on which option to choose, it is a good idea to compare the overall cost with what you will spend if you choose to age in place.
John E Chambers is an experienced financial advice expert. Born in Chicago, he has a master's in Industrial Finance, but he has spent decades offering investment advice to businesses and individuals alike. He is the founder of RetireeWorkforce.com and wants the website to be valuable for retirement advice. In addition, he writes articles that help users jump-start their retirement plans and choose the best investment options. If not pondering over stock market statistics or reading some magazines, you can find John spending time with his family. As an early retiree, John also offers unique insights into what post-retirement life is like.