Assisted living communities can be quite pricey. The 2012 A Place for Mom Cost of Senior Care Survey found that the national average price for a 1-bedroom assisted living apartment is about $3100 per month. In some regions the cost is significantly higher.
Seniors who have few assets and very low income can apply for Medicaid, but because its eligibility requirements are so strict, many families are caught in an awkward position where their older loved one is financially overqualified for Medicaid, but also can’t afford private pay care. Seniors caught in this position can create what’s called a “Miller Trust,” whereby they sign most of their income and assets over to the state to become qualified for Medicaid. But this tends to be a last resort option. An alternative is to look for very affordable private pay options.
Quality Assisted Living on a Budget
The trick is to make sure that you’re not compromising quality of care for a lower price. Here are some tips to help you find affordable assisted living facilities that can be trusted to care for your older loved one:
- Look Outside of Your Ideal Location
Assisted living communities are in accordance with the old real estate mantra that cost is all about, “location, location, and location.” Communities in areas with lower land value are less expensive. If you live in a big city, explore communities in the suburbs or in more affordable neighborhoods.
- Ask About Move-in Incentives
Assisted living communities may have an official price, but it’s usually not set in stone. The communities work hard to keep their occupancy high, and very often they offer significant discounts to encourage families to choose their community. These incentives can take many forms, including discounting rent, waiving the entry fee, and rent freezes. Don’t be afraid to ask about these incentives and even to negotiate the price.
- Consider a Smaller Living Space such as a Studio or Semi-Private Apartment
Naturally, larger apartments are more expensive. If you have a low-budget, look at smaller living spaces rather than one-bedroom apartments. Nursing home and assisted living residents whose care is paid for by Medicaid almost always have to share rooms in any event, so whether you’re looking for affordable private pay options, or using Medicaid, it may not be possible to leave this option off the table.
- Look at Inspection Reports
You can’t determine the quality of care at a community by superficial appearances. A posh and luxurious community may have a history of sub-standard care, while an older, more tired looking community may in fact offer outstanding care. Viewing inspections reports may help you find a diamond in the rough. Find your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman and ask them about the histories of communities that you are considering. Many states also maintain searchable databases of licensed assisted living communities and their inspections reports.
- Talk to a Senior Living Advisor
We know the pricing of each and every community in our nationwide network of assisted living communities. Our Senior Living Advisors refer only communities that match your budget so your search can be as efficient as possible. We work only with licensed communities and conduct violation-audits of partner communities to make sure we’re referring trustworthy options.
To discuss care options with an experienced advisor call (866) 333-8391.
If you have advice about finding affordable senior care on a budget, or any other thoughts, please share. We welcome your comments below.