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Assisted Living Costs

senior couple discussing assisted living costs

Last updated: January 15, 2014

When shopping for an assisted living community for your loved one, sticker shock is a common condition.

A Place for Mom's Senior Living Advisors frequently hear the refrain "That's so much more expensive than just living at home." But is it true that assisted living costs more than living at home?

A Different Way of Life

"The key difference is quality of life. Not only is assisted living financially equal to living at home, it's such a dramatically different way of life," explains Pam Talon, A Place for Mom's Market Development Coach for the Northeast region.

Most people underestimate how much money they spend on food each month, and forget about all the miscellaneous expenses that crop up, Talon says. Mentally, they simply add up rent or the mortgage and utilities, guess on how much they spend on eating, and come up with a figure that's not accurate.

Assisted living costs include all basic living expenses such as rent, utilities and food--but also includes 24-hour security services, housekeeping, health monitoring services, lawn care, property taxes and insurance, trash removal, repairs and maintenance, and the most frequent things people forget to include-social activities and entertainment.

In fact, many seniors living at home cut back on entertainment as a way to save money.

"With a senior living at home, the monthly budget usually has a blank space next to social and entertainment," Talon says. "We point out and say, 'Look at what your mom or dad are spending on socialization and entertainment--nothing--and that's not a good thing.'"

Social Activities are Good for the Senior Soul

Those senior social activities are important for all seniors to keep them physically and mentally sharp, and are the difference between surviving and thriving. But they may be especially important for many women whose retirement isn't very relaxing because their workload actually increases with their retired husbands or partners at home all the time.

Talon says sons and daughters need to take a hard look at their parents' current lifestyle: "Do both people get to retire in this house? How did mom's life change when Dad retired? Did it get better or did it get worse? We're still dealing with an age group where moms didn't get to retire, so we're dealing with quality of life."

Recognizing the Value

After dealing with the initial sticker shock and touring a community most of her clients change their minds and realize assisted living is a great value, Talon says.

"These are the golden years, but they aren't always so golden," Talon says. "At an assisted living facility, people can have a quality of life where other people cater to them so they can enjoy life."

A Place for Mom has created this chart to help you figure out whether assisted living costs more or less than living at home. The sample figures cited below represent national averages, so please fill in your loved one's actual monthly costs in the spaces provided, as well as figures for a specific community you may be considering:

Amenities/Services/ Expenses

Monthly Costs At Home (average)

Assisted Living Costs (average)

Monthly mortgage or rent



Property tax



Property insurance



Condominium maintenance fee



24-hour security services



Three meals a day






Housekeeping services



Daily health aide visitations



Personal care



24-hour emergency call system



Landscaping/snow removal



Home maintenance



Trash removal



Social and entertainment



Total Actual Costs




1 Be sure to ask each facility what is included in the basic rate and for a list of any extra fees.

2 2010 U.S. Dept. of Labor Consumer Expenditure Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3 2012 Genworth "Cost of Care" Research. The survey included feedback from more than 25,000 providers in order to complete more than 9,000 surveys of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

4 2011 National Association of Home Builders Residential Real Estate Tax Rates in the American Community Survey

5 These fees vary widely and may not be applicable. Actual costs will increase if they are included.

6 A Place for Mom, Inc. "best guess" estimates.

7 Many seniors at home remain house-bound, not spending any money on entertainment.


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