Paying for Senior Care (And Other Common Questions)

Jun 16, 2021 | Finance & Planning, Senior Living

Researching senior living options for yourself or a loved one can be a challenging and confusing task. What you thought would be a simple internet search may have left you with more questions than when you started. Senior care options vary by geographical location and from facility to facility. We hear from many older adults concerned about the cost of senior care and wondering how to pay for the care they need. We put together answers to many of the questions we receive about paying for senior care.

Paying for Care

How much will senior care cost?

Cost will depend on what state you live in and the type of care you need. Here are the average prices of senior care in 2020:

  • Independent Living (at a Life Plan Community): $1,300 to $5,400 per month
  • In-home Care: $24 per hour
  • Assisted Living: $4,300 per month
  • Skilled Nursing: $7,700 per month

Price is not always an indication of quality. If you can safely spend time in the community, we recommend you visit or ask the admissions staff for a tour. This is a great way to get a feel for the general atmosphere and observe the staff and residents.

How do I pay for senior care?

Most senior care is funded by personal resources. Savings, retirement income, stocks, social security payments, or the sale of a home are all common ways of paying for senior care.

Will Medicare or Medicaid cover senior care?

Coverage is limited and only applies under specific circumstances.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older. Medicare does not cover non-medical care and will only cover a maximum of 100 days of skilled nursing care if it is preceded by a hospital stay. Medicare will not cover assisted living.

Medicaid is a state-specific health insurance program for low-income individuals with limited financial means, regardless of age. Generally, Medicaid will cover skilled nursing if an individual meets eligibility requirements (which differ by state).

What about long-term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance is a common option for assisted living or skilled nursing. It does require some careful planning. Many policies will not cover pre-existing conditions, and you may not be eligible if you already need some help with daily activities. Different policies and providers will have their own sets of requirements. Carefully review the details of a long-term care insurance plan before you purchase one.

What care option is right for me or my loved one?

Choosing a level of care is dependent on your needs. Options range from Independent Living (residents living entirely on their own) to Assisted Living (needing some help with daily activities) to Skilled Nursing (around-the-clock medical care). Some communities also have Memory Care services for those experiencing dementia or other memory loss symptoms. Typically, a community will do an assessment to figure out what level of care best meets your needs. This is a great time to ask specific questions about the type of care being offered.

Evaluating Quality of Care

How do I know if a senior living community is “worth it”?

Many people assume staying in your own home paying an hourly rate for an in-home caregiver is more cost-effective than living in a senior community. This is not always the case, especially if you need help with daily activities or require someone to be on call 24/7. The cost of senior living communities generally includes care (both medical and non-medical), meals, activities, access to on-site amenities, and on-call staff members.

As for evaluating a particular community, we advise asking lots of questions and taking a tour if it is safe to do so. See if a current resident or family member would be willing to talk with you about their experiences. Look for reviews online and browse through social media profiles and YouTube channels to get a feel for the community. If you can take a tour, observe the staff and the residents. Do residents seem happy and comfortable? Are staff interacting with residents? Are there enough staff members to go around?

What’s included in my monthly fee at a senior living community?

In general, the monthly fee for assisted living and skilled nursing includes all care, meals, and activities. Price structures vary depending on the facility. For example, some do not include supplies, and residents must purchase these items for themselves.

Independent Living may or may not include meals and activities. Residents typically have access to onsite amenities like the pool, library, activity rooms, and fitness centers. See this related article for a full breakdown of what’s included in Independent Living.

What happens if my care needs change after I move in?

This is a common concern. Some communities do not include medical care and only provide housing. Life Plan Communities like Sunset help residents age in place by offering multiple levels of care within the same community. Residents may transition to a different level of care as their needs change without going through a disruptive and stressful move.

Asking how a community will accommodate future needs is a great question to investigate when researching a senior living community. This will help you determine if the community is equipped to provide a full continuum of care for you or your loved one.

What Are My Next Steps?

We recommend making a list of senior living communities in your area and picking out a few top choices to research more thoroughly. Researching can mean visiting the community’s website, looking at reviews, talking with admissions counselors, and taking a tour.

Senior Living at Sunset

Sunset offers a full continuum of senior care with the mission to “provide quality services for senior adults in a spirit of Christian love.” Our Life Plan is adaptable to each resident and ensures a quality of life that nurtures the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those we serve.

We know that researching your senior living options and finding the perfect community can be a confusing and challenging process. Our senior living guide, “Navigating the Financial Aspects of Senior Living” can help you get started. We’ll walk you through the main levels of care, payment options, how to access care, and the unique benefits of a Life Plan Community.

Please contact us if you have any questions. We’re always here to help answer questions or provide resources to help you make the best senior living decisions for you or a loved one.