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8 Questions to Ask About Cost at an Assisted Living Facility

Posted by Marlene Williams on Sep 6, 2016 6:00:00 AM

8-questions-to-ask-about-cost-for-assisted-living.jpgWhen you’re choosing an assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one, one of the primary considerations is the cost. This is not as simple of a factor as you might expect, and you should delve into the details with specific questions before you commit to a particular place. Here are eight questions to ask.

  1. How is the Base Rate Set?

The base rate is the amount you would pay without any additional services. The two options are a flat rate structure and a variable base rate. With a flat base rate, you are charged a specific amount based on whether you choose a single or double room. If the facility offers a variable rate, the amount you pay is based either on the services offered or the level of disability.

  1. What is Included in the Base Rate?

Once you know the base rate, you want to find out what types of services are included. Don’t assume all services are included. Some services may incur an extra charge. Common services which may or may not be part of the base rate include the following:

  • Skilled nursing
  • Transportation
  • Incontinence care
  • Occupational therapy
  • Meals

You should find out the cost for any services which are not part of the base rate when comparing one facility to another.

  1. Can I Pay for Additional Services?

You want to find out if you are allowed to pay extra for those services which are not included in the base rate. Most facilities provide this option with a fee-for-service type of arrangement. Others may use additional rate structures to include specific services rather than charging only for use.

  1. Is There a Security Deposit or Entrance Fee?

Not all facilities charge an entrance fee or security deposit, but you want to ask beforehand. If there is a waiting list for a unit, you may be asked to pay a deposit once a unit becomes available to hold it until you or your loved one moves in. If one is required, find out how much and if it’s applied to the first month’s payment or if there are other arrangements.

  1. What Financial Assistance Do You Take?

Several financial assistance resources are available to help pay for assisted living. You should find out what kind of subsidy or payment each facility accepts to ensure you can afford to pay for the room. Common payment options include:

  • Housing subsidies from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Veterans Subsidies
  • Long-term care insurance
  1. What Other Levels of Care are Offered and How Much Do They Cost?

As your loved one moves into assisted living, you must also think about future needs. Facilities that offer multiple levels of care allow your family member to stay within the same organization rather than searching for a new facility. You’ll want to find out how much other levels of care cost to ensure you can afford the center for the long term.

  1. What is My Budget for Care?

Before deciding on a facility, you must consider how much you can afford. With life expectancies increasing, retirees are living longer, which means you must have more retirement income reserved for care. Look at the cost of each facility and decide how long your senior could afford to live there. You want to ensure your loved one has enough money to live comfortably.

  1. What is the Total Cost of Care?

After you figure the base cost and any additional services and expenses you will have to pay for, you can calculate the total cost of care in each assisted living center. This figure will allow you to determine if you can afford the facility. Once you have these eight questions answered, you can begin to narrow down your options.


Download the Cost Comparison Worksheet to Calculate Current Expenses, Expected Income, and Cost to Live in a Retirement Community


Tags: Senior Finances

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