Assisted Living Facilities Thrive In A Stagnant Economy
The demand for space in assisted-living facilities has continued to go up, despite a small decrease in 2007. In fact, the National Investment Center (NIC) for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry reported that occupancy rates rose slightly between the third and fourth quarters of 2008, from 83.9% to 89.4%.
Indeed, some facilities are experiencing a business boon. A Place For Mom, Inc., a nationwide elder care referral service, reported that the number of assisted-living move-ins increased 12% in the first three months of 2009. While it is true that some of the ritzier retirement communities have had to reduce their rates and offer considerable incentives to lure occupants, most assisted-living facilities have not significantly reduced their fees simply because the demand remains high and they don’t have to. And, unlike other expenses, the need for assisted living is something that can’t always be delayed until the economy improves.
For those trying to find care for an ailing parent or relative, every bit of help counts, and there are some discounts and loans out there, such as Elderlife Financial Services, LLC, a company out of Washington, D.C., that offers deferred loans to help cover assisted-living costs.
In general about half of all assisted-living costs are covered by seniors themselves, but a 2006 Overview of Assisted Living report by the NIC and senior housing trade associations reported that more than a third of all assisted-living residents are subsidized by their families. This can really add up for those who are also trying to cover the cost of housing adult children in an economy that doesn’t have much to offer young workers entering the job market.
The good news is that assisted living is a lot less expensive than independent living, in most cases requiring only the first month’s rent or community fee. However, at $3,430 per month the average cost of living, even at one of the least expensive facilities, is still not cheap.
People looking for a way to pay for assisted-living costs in today’s economy can find ways to defray costs, even if the facility of their choice isn’t offering any discounts or incentives. For instance, in some cases it may be possible to find a roommate to share expenses, or there may be smaller, lower-priced rooms available. It never hurts to ask.
In addition, veterans are eligible for a sizeable benefit from the Veteran’s Administration that pays up to $1,632 per month for those who saw active service, and $1,055 per month for their spouse.
Ultimately the families of those who require assisted living must balance the cost with the level of care available. Beware of any price that seems to be too good to be true, or is seriously out of line with what other facilities are offering.