By this stage in our life we are all well aware that nothing in life is really free. I find it amusing that during this election cycle (like none before) that some of the presidential candidates are making promises of “free stuff” if you would only vote for them. Who doesn’t like free stuff but we’ve all lived long enough to know that everything comes with a price including the air we breathe. They may not call it a Fresh Air Tax but in some way we are all paying for that life giving oxygen.
So…what makes us think that end of life care would be any different? It is always shocking to families when confronted with the financial reality of eldercare. Most families are unprepared for the sticker shock of what it cost to provide for a loved one who is no longer safe at home. Even the copays on medical bills that are covered by insurance are ridiculous, imagine the cost of senior healthcare that is not covered by insurance at all.
Senior healthcare or assisted-living is comprised of 2 components. Part 1 is the cost of renting an apartment, which typically includes all meals, laundry, housekeeping and a host of activities and entertainment. Part 2 is the cost associated with the care needs of the person occupying the room and can vary greatly depending on each person’s individual health needs. A few people move into assisted-living and are of good health, so their care needs are minimal and thus this portion of their bill is low. However, most people that move into assisted-living generally have some health care issues that need attention – that’s why they’re there in the first place. This is the portion of one’s bill that can vary greatly depending on which assisted-living a family has selected. This health care cost component will likely continue to climb as a person ages and are in need of more and more assistance.
In the State of Ohio, assisted-living is generally reasonably priced when compared to other parts of the country. What that means is that if you’re living in Ohio you are not going to pay the most or the least when it comes to assisted-living and generally should expect to pay pretty much on average.
So what should a family expect to pay when looking for assisted-living? The numbers to keep in mind fall between $3,500 – $6,000 a month. Of course there are situations where this could be less/greater depending on location, amenities and health care needs of the person who will be moving into assisted living. Generally, families should expect to pay somewhere in the middle of that range or closer to $4,800 – $5,200.
Families often ask what can be done to bring this cost into a more manageable level? The best response to this is to have a willingness to drive a little farther to find that location that provides the right level of care but know it just won’t be next door. The rules of real estate certainly apply here and location is often the driver of price. The closer an assisted-living community is to a populated area the more likely the prices are to rise.
While no one will ever confuse assisted living as being cheap, it is good to be aware that when comparing assisted-living to a nursing home environment, assisted-living is typically almost half the cost of a nursing home. So, in reality, assisted-living is the less expensive option by far.
The next questions families often ask is “How in the world are we supposed to pay for this?” and will be addressed in my next blog article. In the meantime, use the time wisely to recover from the reality of sticker shock. Unlike the cost of a barrel of oil – I don’t see any signs of assisted-living cost declining any time soon.
Kevin and Cilla Buck own and operate CarePatrol of Northeast Ohio, a Free senior placement service that assists families in finding the right assisted-living community. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or like them on Facebook at CarePatrol of Northeast Ohio.