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Apples to apples: Comparing the cost of senior living to aging in place

Cost is (and should be) a major factor in any senior living search. But sometimes, the anticipated cost of Assisted Living or Memory Care is such a deterrent that seniors and their families decide that staying at home is best, without taking the time to compare costs. Before you start your senior living search, be sure to take these hidden costs of aging in place into consideration. 

1.    Home Health Care 
For a lot of seniors, help with things like bathing, dressing, and medication management is a must.  Although the cost of services vary, average cost tends to hover around $19/hour, or $44,497 a year.  If your loved one needs daily assistance, be sure to get several local home health quotes as part of your senior living search.

2.    Transportation
Scheduled transportation is a staple in Assisted Living and Memory Care (so be sure to ask about it during any community tours.)  Although the price of transportation fluctuates per family, the average American spends $2,000 a year on gas alone.  The cost of gas, coupled with maintenance, insurance, and any unanticipated repairs, adds up quickly. 

3.    Utilities
Utility bills, including electric, water, sewer, and gas, can really pack a punch, especially if you live in an area that makes heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer an absolute must.  Americans spend an average of $2,000 on electricity each year, not to mention other utilities, (yikes!) so finding a senior living community that includes some utilities with the monthly rent payment can lead to big savings in the long run. 

4.    Meals
According to a Gallup poll, Americans spend an average of $151 on food a week, which is equivalent to over $7,800 a year.  As a standard, Assisted Living or Memory Care communities offer meals as part of the monthly rent cost. When touring, be sure to ask what meals are included (namely, if they offer three full meals a day,) if meal plans are flexible, and if you can see a sample menu. 

5.    Hidden housing fees
If your Mom or Dad’s mortgage is paid, then it’s easy to assume their housing costs are next to none. Don’t be fooled – be sure to know what they’re paying in things like property taxes, HOA fees, and homeowners insurance. 

Since senior living communities offer things like the added security of 24-hour emergency aid, weekly housekeeping services, and social engagement, comparing the cost of senior living to the cost of aging in place may never be apples to apples, but factoring current living costs into your senior living search will help your family make the decision that’s right for you.