How to Make Assisted Living Budget-Friendly After 50

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Assisted living facilities allow older adults to hold on to their independence before they need more intensive, full-time care. These residences, usually a single apartment or private room, are designed to meet older adults' daily needs as they age or their income changes.

While they can greatly help older adults who want to have senior independent living, assisted living can be quite expensive. According to one report, its median monthly rate can run anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000 in the United States.

Thankfully, you can try a few cost-saving ideas to make assisted living fit your budget. Check them out here:

Consider Lower-Cost Rooms

There are several ways to save a lot on rent for assisted living accommodations. For example, staying farther from the dining room can save around $50 monthly on rent. This is only recommended if you or your parent are willing and physically able to do so.

Another way is to share a one-bedroom apartment and save hundreds of dollars monthly. You can turn the living room into a bedroom, depending on the place. If you're lucky, you may even find a similar apartment with two bedrooms, helping you save up to 40-50% of the rent.

Look for Cheaper and Negotiable Beds

Residences with fewer beds or housed in an older building are usually affordable. Despite these factors, many can vet for their quality of care. Nonetheless, many huge residences still offer more and better amenities at a cost. They still have to pay expensive housing costs and corporate staff.

In some facilities, there are times when you can also negotiate the first month's rent. This usually happens when there are open beds, either when there's a regional competition for residents or a decline in occupancy.

One tip for open beds is to check whether a facility has many wheelchair-bound residents. When this happens, they'll loosen up their rules to fill beds. They may sometimes even offer potential residents free rent. Despite this, it's essential to check for adequate staffing levels.

Opt for Tiered Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities with “tiered pricing” entitle you or your parents to a given number of hours of care. This flexible pricing structure allows residents to pay only for services they need (also called the fee-for-service model), making it less costly.

On the contrary, assisted living facilities with all-inclusive pricing tend to combine all services rolled into one price or an all-inclusive payment. Some of these services aren't necessary for you or your parents, and paying for them will cost you more.

Find Not-for-Profit Residences

Another affordable option is the nonprofit assisted living facilities and nursing homes. As their name implies, they aren't owned by hospitals or other medical entities but by shareholders. In other words, all profits go back into the facility and are taken by anyone else. This is why they're more affordable than their for-profit assisted living residences counterparts.

Nonprofit assisted living facilities and nursing homes typically cover residents who run out of funds. If you or your parents plan to stay longer in these facilities, this benefit can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Just remember that although these facilities guarantee to live independently, they might be unable to do so at the assisted living level due to the increasing costs. However, other not-for-profit communities may still guarantee continued care and services, regardless of their faith and level of care when they enter; you just need to dig deeper to find them.

Look Into Government-Sponsored Programs

Unfortunately, there's no Medicare assisted living coverage. Medicare doesn't also cover the cost of nursing homes, memory care facilities, and other long-term residential care. However, they cover specific short-term stays, such as doctor-prescribed specialized nursing care or rehabilitation, in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility (SNF).

To avail of this coverage, note that you or your parent should:

  • Have a qualifying hospital stay, at least three consecutive days as an inpatient;
  • Stay at any nursing facility within 30 days of leaving the hospital as an inpatient for the same or related condition to your inpatient care;
  • Have a doctor certify that you or your parent need daily skilled care from skilled therapy or nursing staff.

Once qualified, Medicare Part A hospital insurance covers eligible SNF stays with these copayments: nothing for days 1 to 20 and $200/day for days 21 to 100. If you stay for more than 100 days, you'll have to pay all skilled nursing facility costs out of your pocket.

Although Medicare doesn't cover assisted living facilities, other government-sponsored programs can still help pay for these costs. These include veterans benefits and Medicaid in some states.

For veterans, they need to meet service, asset and income requirements to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. Contact your accredited veterans' service organization or regional VA office for this.

For those who want to avail of Medicaid coverage for assisted living, they usually need to have low income and assets. The coverage varies by state. Some have waiver programs, while others have enrollment caps (like one can't be eligible in two states). It's best to contact your Area Agency on Aging or state Medicaid agency for specifics.

Final Thoughts

Research is key. Look at the prices of various assisted living facilities in your area. Dive deep to identify which provides the services you or your parents actually need at the most affordable rate. Doing so may also help you with facilities that offer financial support with assisted living costs, such as those nonprofits.

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