What You Should Know About the Cost of Senior Living Communities

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If you’re like most seniors, you’d probably rather live in your current home as long as possible and only move to a senior living community when or if you have to. And because the cost of senior living communities often includes housing, dining, activities, fitness, transportation and medical care, it could be one of the most important decisions you’ve had to make in years. 

But finding a retirement community that matches your lifestyle and future health needs can make all the difference in how much you enjoy today and your peace of mind for tomorrow. That’s why many seniors are considering Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), also known as Life Plan Communities. One benefit of CCRCs is they provide a range of services and higher levels of care — assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation — should your health needs change. 

The Cost of Senior Living May Be More Affordable than Staying in Your Home

Understandably, many seniors are hesitant to move out of homes they’ve owned and lived in for decades. Although the cost of senior living communities may seem pricey at first, staying in your home, even if it’s paid off, can cost more than you might think. Here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Ongoing home upkeep and maintenance: Whether you hire a housekeeper and a gardener or do it all yourself, home maintenance can cost you both time and money.
  • The cost of “age-proofing” your home: Renovations to add a stairlift and or ramp, lower shelves and cabinets to a reachable height, change door knobs to be easier to open, widen doorways, or install a walk-in bathtub can cost thousands of dollars.
  • Current real estate market: All over the country, the current housing market is red hot. Selling your home now could help cover the cost of moving to a community.

CCRCs: a plan for today and tomorrow.

Before you decide what option to pursue, it’s important to make an informed decision. As you start your search, here are five important questions to ask yourself:

1. What are your current and future needs? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of seniors 65+ will need some type of long-term care. A Genworth Cost of Care Survey conducted by CareScout® indicated that the national 2020 market rates for care were:

  • At-home living options (like in-home nursing and other health aides) $4,576 a month or $54,912 annually
  • Assisted living $4,300/month or $51,600 annually
  • A private room in skilled nursing $8,821/month or $105,852 annually

At a CCRC, you’ll pay less than market rates for any higher level of care, or you could only pay for the care you need, helping you preserve your nest egg.

2. What can you afford? Part of the cost of senior living at a CCRC is an ongoing monthly fee to cover meals, utilities, classes, social outings, maintenance and other expenses, so it’s a good idea to figure out what you can afford. (These are expenses you’ll probably have whether you live at home or in a community.)

3. Where do you want to live? There are CCRCs all over the country. Do you want to be near family and friends? Or would you prefer to live near a popular vacation destination? Just remember location can impact the cost of senior living.

4. Where can you do your research? Visiting a community’s website and Facebook page is the easiest way to get started. Are there online reviews? Once you narrow down your list, you can call and ask questions, request more information, or schedule a personal visit.

5. Who do you trust for advice? Asking friends, family and loved ones for advice is a good way to get a second opinion. If they have time, ask them to visit a community with you. They can help ensure you’re making the right choice.

Questions to ask when visiting a CCRC.

When considering a CCRC, LeadingAge recommends you ask these key questions: 

  • Are they for-profit or not-for-profit, and what’s the financial strength of the retirement community?
  • What’s included in their monthly cost of senior living? (Does the fee include things like utilities, linen service, a monthly dining allowance, scheduled transportation services, home maintenance, fitness center membership, 24-hour security, property taxes and property insurance.)
  • How do they help maintain residents’ freedom and independence?
  • What kind of emergency response systems do they have?
  • How can residents offer input and feedback about the community?
  • What care services are offered on-site?
  • What does each higher level of care cost?
  • What’s the difference between independent and assisted living, and when would a resident have to move to assisted living?
  • If health needs change, can a resident remain in independent living? How is aging in place supported?
  • Is there a residency agreement available to review?

You can also download our CCRC community visit checklist.

Finding the right option matters.

If you’re ready to start researching your living options, we have a list of important things to consider. You can also use our Find a Community tool to search communities near you or in areas of the country you want to live.