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HOW MUCH DOES ASSISTED LIVING COST?

By Scott Ogburn

The short answer is, between $1,500 and $8,000.  The long answer starts with, “It depends.”


Communities usually have three charges.  The first is a one-time “community fee” that ranges from $0 to $5,000, but is usually in the $2,000 range.  This fee is NOT an ANNUAL fee but simply a one time, up-front cost.  What is it used for?  Costs associated with getting the room ready (new carpet, paint, cleaning, etc.) and administrative tasks (e.g. paperwork required by Virginia’s Department of Social Services, a community’s corporate paperwork, etc.).


The second cost is rent.  This cost depends on the size of the room, and how nice the community is.  Certain neighborhoods demand higher prices.  Typically, newer communities cost more.  A small studio is less expensive than a large two-bedroom apartment.  A private room is more expensive than a semi-private room (a room or apartment that is shared with another resident).  Sometimes there is a price difference based on the location of the room in the community.  So, for instance, a room closer to the elevator or main room may be more expensive than one further away.


Care is the final factor in determining how much assisted living will cost.  Communities charge for care a variety of ways.  Some include a great deal of care in their base price (rent).  These communities may include as little as medication management, or as much as med management, bathing, dressing and grooming.  The initial rent cost is usually higher in these communities because they include these services.


Other communities calculate care costs on a point system.  Points are usually based on how long the community thinks it will take the care giver to provide the level of care needed.  For instance, bathing help for one resident may mean that the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) simply stands outside the bathroom.  That might be worth one care point.  For another resident, the CNA may have to completely help them with the bathing process, from getting in and out, to washing their hair and body, to drying off. That may be five care points.  Points are assigned for each of the ADLs (activities of daily living which usually include ambulation, toileting, bathing, dressing, grooming, transferring, eating) and the sum of these points determines the level of care.


Once we’ve toured you to communities that make sense for you, choose your two favorite communities to do an assessment, which is required by law. You can either bring your loved one to the community or the community will send someone to the home or facility to do the assessment.  Assessments are not intrusive, and usually consist of simply asking questions and looking at medical records (if your loved one is in the hospital or skilled nursing facility).  This assessment will help the community give you an actual number for the care costs, which in turn will help you make a decision.  


Your final monthly costs are then the sum of the cost of the room you’ve chosen plus the care costs.  But don’t forget the one-time community fee!


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us!  Our help is provided at no charge to you and we won’t share your information with anyone.  You’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel having solid information to make an informed choice!