Senior living communities offer maintenance-free living, easy access to health and wellness resources, as well as more opportunities for socialization with friendly neighbors and community staff members. However, when some people look at senior living as a retirement plan option, they only see those luxury amenities and huge, beautiful campuses, and they assume that community living is simply out of reach for financial reasons.
Many of those adults are pleasantly surprised to realize that senior living fees are comparable to their current monthly expenses, making senior living affordable and a realistic part of their financial plan. You can feel more empowered as you research your options if you know there are multiple ways of paying for senior living for your or your loved one.
Here are just a few ways to pay for senior living that you can discuss with your financial advisor.
Types of Senior Living
Before you can begin looking for ways to pay for senior living, it is important that you understand which type of senior living will serve you or your loved one, now and in the future.
In general, there are four main categories of senior living:
Independent living: Independent living communities are designed for the active adult who is looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle. These communities often feature luxury amenities and services that remind residents of a resort and make wellness more convenient.
Assisted living: Assisted living communities are designed to give residents access to amenities like on-site fitness centers and nature paths while also providing personalized assistance. Caregivers are available around the clock to offer verbal reminders or hands-on support during daily care tasks, or in case of an emergency.
Memory care: For those living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, memory care communities provide the specialized environment and assistance they need to stay healthy, comfortable, and safe.
Skilled nursing: Finally, skilled nursing facilities offer more acute care to adults who need to recover after a surgery or hospital stay, or who need long-term skilled care to help manage a complex medical condition.
It’s important to know what type of senior living is best for you so that you can tour those communities. If you aren’t sure which lifestyle option would be your best choice, consider talking it over with your or your loved one’s physician. They will be able to take medical history and current challenges into consideration as they point you in the right direction.
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Paying for Senior Living: Six Options to Explore
It is also essential to know what type of senior living you are looking for, because there are different payor options for each type.
Medicare is one way to pay for senior living, though it doesn’t cover all lifestyle options. However, if you or your loved one need skilled care services (such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy; wound care; or complex condition management) in a skilled care facility, you might be eligible to offset the costs with your Medicare benefits.
In order to receive Medicare support, you or your loved one must first have a qualifying hospital stay of at least three days. After that, Medicare will pay for skilled nursing fees at 100 percent for the first 20 days, and then at 80 percent for days 21-100. Qualifying Medicare recipients are allowed to use this benefit for 100 days per year. After the year’s 100th day, Medicare will no longer pay for costs associated with skilled nursing care.
In order for Medicare to continue paying during the 100 days, you or your loved one must be actively working toward specific healthcare goals, set by your therapist and nurse, so you can return safely home. Skilled nursing care is covered by Medicare if it is a short-term solution in order to build endurance and strength during recovery, before returning home, as long as the patient is consistently making progress to that goal.
If you or your loved one are eligible for Medicaid, you can use that assistance to offset the costs of some senior living options. For those who need long-term skilled nursing care, communities will have a certain number of beds that are Medicaid eligible. In many cases, these communities have a waiting list, so it is always a good idea to research your options long before that type of care becomes necessary.
Some assisted living communities also accept Medicaid, which can help to offset the monthly fee that communities bill to residents. Most monthly fees are all-inclusive, which means there are fewer additional fees. This can provide confidence in knowing your regular monthly expense, so your budget is predictable.
3. Long-Term Care Insurance
If you or your loved one have a long-term care insurance plan, you might be able to offset some senior living fees with that benefit. Ideally, you should check with your plan prior to touring potential senior living communities to ensure you’re only researching communities within your network that accept your insurance policy.
If you are confused about your plan, call your agent to get your questions answered and your concerns addressed. You can also speak with team members at the senior living communities to ask for assistance interpreting your plan.
4. Third-Party Insurance
Some adults have medical insurance in lieu of, or in addition to, Medicare. If this is true for you or your loved one, now is the time to research if there are ways in your plan to offset the cost of senior living.
Although most third-party insurance does not pay for monthly fees for independent living, there are some benefits that include medical services that can include assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing assistance. For example, if the individual needs support performing at least two activities of daily living (ADLs), insurance might pay some of the fees associated with living in a community that provides the necessary support. Activities of daily living include:
Toileting or incontinence management
Some insurance companies will require documentation from a physician or therapist verifying the necessity of that support, as well as a care plan from the community that will provide the support, in order to pay for fees. Luckily, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing communities will all have a personalized care plan that outlines services, interventions, and goals for your or your loved one.
5. Veterans Aid and Attendance
If you or your loved one are eligible for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits, you can leverage those to offset the fees associated with assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing. You can also use the benefit to pay for in-home assistance, which might be available in an independent living apartment as needed.
It’s wise to review benefits and speak to your VA representative to determine eligibility prior to researching senior living communities that can support the benefit.
6. Out of Pocket
Finally, you can pay for senior living fees out of pocket. In most cases, senior living communities charge a monthly fee that covers rent, utilities, access to wellness services and amenities, flexible dining plans, housekeeping services, transportation services, and more. These fees can fluctuate based on the type of floor plan chosen, any additional support or care that’s necessary, and amenities offered at the community.
You or your loved one can pay monthly fees by selling a current home, using pension or Social Security payments, or paying with designated retirement income. In all cases, it is wise to consult with your financial advisor before you begin looking at senior living options so that you can research only communities that are within your budget.
You can also ask potential senior living communities if they are running any specials or offering any incentives for new residents. You might end up striking a deal that saves you a significant amount of money!
Discover Your New Home at Cedarhurst
When you or your loved one are ready to begin exploring senior living that is affordable as well as truly exceptional, find a Cedarhurst community near you. Our communities are vibrant, flourishing residences full of friendly neighbors and team members who are ready to get to know you and answer your questions. Contact us today to get started.
*Originally published January 2021. Updated June 2023.