When families who are searching for assisted living first encounter prices, an occasional reaction is “sticker shock”. The average price for a one-bedroom assisted living apartment is approximately $3400 per month, or about $115 per day according to data from A Place for Mom’s 2012 Cost of Care Survey. Most Americans would agree that this is a significant sum of money; but is it too much?
What You Get For Your Money
Consider what a senior (or contributing loved ones) are acquiring when they pay for assisted living:
- A clean, safe and dignified home
- Meals and snacks
- All utilities except phone and cable
- Activities and entertainment
- Access to amenities such as gym, swimming pool, library, cinema, etc.
- Personal care and assistance with activities of daily living
All Needs Met
In other words, you’re not paying for any old product – it’s a service that aims to meet almost all of one’s needs. Resident’s physical needs, care needs, and social needs are all met. And at assisted living the countless financial transactions one would need to make to maintain life in a single-family home are reduced to one monthly bill. (To compare assisted living costs to current living expenses, try an interactive Cost of Care Calculator tool made by A Place for Mom.)
Furthermore, because frail assisted living residents don’t need to worry about day-to-day survival (as they would if they lived alone), they have a great opportunity to pursue emotional and intellectual fulfillment.
You Get What You Pay For
A service that literally meets a senior’s every need simply can’t be cheap unless it’s subsidized. The fees that residents pay are used to keep competent and qualified staff on duty 24/7. They pay for the facility itself, which becomes the senior’s home. And they pay for the food that nourishes the residents and the vehicles that transport them to doctor’s appointments.
A Transparent Industry
Some of the largest assisted living companies are publicly traded, meaning their finances can be scrutinized by anyone. Some publicly traded assisted living companies include Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD), Emeritus Senior Living (NYSE: ESC), and Five Star Senior Living (NYSE: FVE). Many assisted living providers are thriving, but it’s a very competitive industry. The difficult economic climate has already compelled assisted living facilities to lower their prices as much as possible, which has left many providers struggling to maintain profitability.
So while assisted living might meet your definition of expensive, there’s no evidence that it’s overpriced.