By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
For many older adults who need some help to maintain their independence, assisted living can make good financial sense.
MetLife released the 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs last month shows that the cost of assisted living compares very favorably to the cost of nursing home care. Assisted living also can be just as and possibly more affordable than living alone at home with home health care or adult day care services.
The survey report, which was prepared by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, provides detailed breakdowns of the costs of assisted living versus nursing home care, adult day care and home health services.
Comparison of Average Annual Costs
in 2011 MetLife Survey
|Dementia Care in Nursing Home|
|Home Health Care|
|Home Health Aide||$21,840 (2)||$21,840 (2)|
|Homemaker||$19,760 (2)||$20,880 (2)|
|Adult Day Care|
|Adult Day Care||$18,200 (3)||$17,160 (3)|
(1) Info not included in study. (2) Assumes four hours a day, five days a week. (3) Assume five days a week
On average across our country, the cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $214 a day, or $6,506 a month. Annually, this adds up to $78,110.
If you want a private room in the nursing home, add another 11% to your bill as the average cost is $239 a day, or $7,266 a month. This adds up to $87,235 a year.
By comparison, the average cost for a private one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living community ranges from 28% to 41% less than the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home and 36% to 48% less than a private room. The actual difference in costs depends on how the assisted living community charges for the services it provides and on the type and frequency of services needed by a resident.
More than 25% of the assisted living communities in the US that in the survey charge an inclusive monthly fee that includes 10 or more services; nearly 10% charge a base monthly fee that includes five or less services; and 65% charge a base monthly fee that includes 6 to 9 services.
At communities that use the inclusive method of charging, the average monthly fee for a one-bedroom apartment was $3,775 a month, or $45,300 a year.
At communities that charge a base monthly fee for five or less services, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,088, or $37,056 a year. At communities that charge a base monthly fee for six to nine services, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,412, or $40,944.
At communities that do not use the inclusive method of charging, additional costs are likely to apply for additional services. For instance, communities that charge a base monthly fee for five or less services are likely to charge extra for bathing and dressing assistance, medication management, and help with transferring, toileting and continence care. On average, the additional monthly charges for these services at communities that are not inclusive are as follows:
| Assistance with Transferring,
Toileting, Continence Care
This can bring the average monthly fee up from $3,088 at a community that charges a base fee for less than five services to a total of $4,647 for a resident who needs help with bathing; dressing, transferring, toileting, continence management as well as medication management. The amount is still more than $1,900 a month, or nearly $22,900 a year, less than a semi-private room in a nursing home, and more than $2,700 a month, or more than $32,500 a year, less than a private room in a nursing home.
Home Health Care
Nationwide, the average cost for homemaker services is $19 an hour and for a home health aide is $21 an hour. Four hours a day five days a week would add up to a cost of $19,760 a year for a homemaker and $21,840 a year for a home health aide.
Plus, there are all of the other expenses of living in a home, townhome, condo or apartment such as rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, repairs, maintenance, lawn care and snow removal, utilities, homeowners insurance, food, housekeeping and laundry.
Most, if not all, of these costs are included in the cost of assisted living.
In addition at an assisted living community, staff is on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide residents with the assistance they need. In the event of an emergency, residents are able to alert staff members who are on-site. Again, the cost often is part of the monthly fee.
What is more difficult to put a price tag on at an assisted living community are the intangible benefits that come with the availability of so many opportunities to socialize with peers and to participate in a variety of activities and special events.
If you were to look at the average cost of assisted living on an hourly basis, it would come to $4.76 nationwide and $5.07 in Illinois.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.
“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”