Assisted living provides peace of mind knowing your parents are independent yet have help with daily needs. But many people are surprised, and disappointed, to learn it’s not covered by Medicare. The good news is there are several ways to pay for assisted living that aren’t commonly recognized. Read on for practical ways to help shoulder the costs and find the right community for your loved one without breaking the bank.
Doing some digging is the first step. A few of our tools can help:
It’s stressful, frustrating, and expensive if your loved one needs to move several times before finding the right fit. Instead, do your due diligence:
You may be asking yourself, “Can I really negotiate senior living costs?” The simple answer is, “Yes.” The cost of assisted living facilities is not always set in stone, so it’s important to ask:
Depending on the time of year and location, facilities can have vacancies and may be willing to offer a discount. Many communities offer deals — all you need to do is ask!
If your loved one or their spouse served in the armed forces or has home or other equity, these options may help pay for assisted living:
In this Ask an Advisor Series: How to Finance video, Senior Living Advisors share what they’ve learned from working with thousands of families about paying for assisted living.
Many people don’t realize a senior’s life insurance policy or that of a loved one can be used to pay for assisted living. You can sell your policy to a third party for market value and use the proceeds to fund a long-term care benefit plan while some of the death benefit remains. Another option is “surrendering” a life insurance policy to the life insurance company for cash value. In this case, you give up ownership and the death benefit.
If you’re planning ahead for senior living, you may want to invest in long-term care insurance (LTCI). Only about 8% of Americans have purchased LTCI, but as the average life expectancy rate continues to climb, more people are considering LTCI as a way to pay for future potential long-term care.
Some assisted living communities offer a variety of services that are covered by either a one-time fee or a separate charge based on when you need them. Figuring out the best option for your needs will help you plan and budget more efficiently.
Consider overall costs and then decide which option best fits your budget. Family members or volunteer services may be able to fill in potential gaps in a more cost-effective way. Bear in mind, though, that for some families an all-inclusive option might be more affordable, especially in certain geographic areas where the cost of living is higher.
In many senior living communities, a shared space is more cost-effective than a single room or apartment. In addition to saving money, sharing a room can be safer and prevent loneliness, a common problem among the elderly. Who would make a great living companion?
Wouldn’t it be nice to save money on other necessities, so that you could put those funds toward the cost of assisted living? Your loved one may be eligible to receive funds or assistance through senior benefit programs.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) lists several programs for vulnerable adults or low-income seniors to save costs on drug prescriptions, food, hearing care, dental care, vision coverage, and energy bills.
Fall can be the least expensive time to relocate because the peak moving season in the U.S. lasts from April to September. The demand for movers tends to be higher in the warmer months (June, July, and August), which can increase the overall costs of moving. Here are some ways to save or find discounts from professional movers:
A Place for Mom’s senior living advisors have experience helping families find affordable senior living. “How do you pay for assisted living?” is one of the most common questions families ask. “Some families can simply pay for care with their income and their savings,” says Mary Lontkowski, a Senior Living Advisor. “But other families, it takes a little more creativity.”
For additional tips and advice on financing or saving money on senior living costs, read our e-book, 5 Best-Kept Secrets to Financing Senior Care.
Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.