For many family caregivers, paying for assisted living is a major hurdle to moving Mom or Dad into a senior community. Maybe you’ve been getting by with a hired in-home caregiver who fills in when you need to get away. Or, maybe you’ve called on friends to help out in a pinch.
This usually works out for a while. But, at some point, the cost of keeping your loved one in their home could surpass the price of assisted living. This is especially true if you factor in the cost of owning and maintaining a home.
The annual median price of assisted living in the U.S. is actually less than the annual price of 44 hours of in-home care per week, according to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey. So, depending on how much help your loved one needs, learning about the costs of assisted living and how to pay could better prepare your family for the future.
What’s the average cost of assisted living by state?
The average cost of assisted living varies significantly across the United States. While the national median monthly cost was $4,500 in 2021, the price ranged from $3,000 in the cheapest state to nearly $7,000 in the most expensive, according to Genworth. The median yearly cost of assisted living in 2021 was $54,000.
If you’re looking for assisted living, knowing the average cost in your state can help you understand what to expect. But remember that assisted living costs differ from zip code to zip code. For instance, the median monthly cost was $4,195 in Dallas, while it was $2,770 in Texarkana, Texas.
Here’s a look at the median monthly cost of assisted living in each state, including Washington, D.C.:
- Alabama: $3,503
- Alaska: $6,830
- Arizona: $3,760
- Arkansas: $3,760
- California: $5,250
- Colorado: $4,750
- Connecticut: $5,129
- Delaware: $5,995
- Washington, D.C.: $6,978
- Florida: $4,000
- Georgia: $3,535
- Hawaii: $5,375
- Idaho: $3,838
- Illinois: $4,488
- Indiana: $4,283
- Iowa: $4,367
- Kansas: $4,580
- Kentucky: $3,448
- Louisiana: $3,748
- Maine: $5,865
- Maryland: $4,900
- Massachusetts: $6,500
- Michigan: $4,250
- Minnesota: $4,508
- Mississippi: $3,500
- Missouri: $3,000
- Montana: $4,450
- Nebraska: $4,076
- Nevada: $3,750
- New Hampshire: $6,053
- New Jersey: $6,495
- New Mexico: $4,498
- New York: $4,580
- North Carolina: $4,010
- North Dakota: $3,391
- Ohio: $4,635
- Oklahoma: $3,855
- Oregon: $5,045
- Pennsylvania: $4,100
- Rhode Island: $6,826
- South Carolina: $3,612
- South Dakota: $3,350
- Tennessee: $4,105
- Texas: $3,998
- Utah: $3,500
- Vermont: $5,250
- Virginia: $5,250
- Washington: $6,000
- West Virginia: $4,160
- Wisconsin: $4,600
- Wyoming: $4,169
How does the cost of assisted living compare to other senior care options?
It’s important to compare the cost of assisted living with the cost of other types of senior care. Although assisted living may seem expensive, it could actually be cheaper than other options you might be considering.
Here’s a breakdown of the 2021 median costs of other senior living options:
- In-home care: A homemaker who helps with tasks like household chores and meal preparation cost $4,957 per month, according to Genworth. Meanwhile, a home health aide who assists with personal care and activities of daily living cost $5,148 monthly. This is based on 44 hours of care per week.
- Nursing homes: As the highest level of care available outside of a hospital, nursing homes are the most expensive senior living option. A private room cost $9,034 monthly, while a shared room cost $7,908, according to Genworth. These communities are intended for seniors with serious health issues.
- Independent living: The median monthly cost of an independent living apartment was $2,630, according to A Place for Mom’s Proprietary Senior Living Price Index. These communities don’t include help with personal care, but they often provide convenient services like meals, transportation, social activities, and housekeeping.
What services do you get in assisted living?
Just as the cost of assisted living varies from state to state, the services and amenities will differ from community to community. But there are some broad similarities in what you can expect. Assisted living communities usually offer:
- Meal services
- Help with activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Medication management
- Social activities
- Exercise and wellness classes
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Care coordination with medical providers
Residents of assisted living communities have a wide range of needs. Some can live mostly independently, only requiring help with certain tasks, while others need a higher level of care. This is just one of the reasons that the cost of assisted living can vary so much.
Assisted living staff will likely complete a care needs assessment to determine how much assistance your loved one will require. Then, they’ll typically discuss pricing options. It’s important to understand what’s included in the base cost and what services could cost extra.
Assisted living communities usually offer one of the following payment model types:
- All-inclusive: As the name suggests, the cost of rent, services, and other essential expenses are all rolled into a single price.
- Tiered structure: In this pricing approach, assisted living communities offer several levels of care, each with additional services to account for greater needs.
- À la carte: This customizable approach enables families to pick and choose which services their loved one will need based on their abilities.
Many assisted living resident agreements last for one year, and families pay monthly fees. However, some communities allow residents to move in for just a couple of months. This less permanent trial period enables families to test out whether assisted living is the right option.
How do you compare costs of assisted living?
When you’re searching for assisted living, it’s important to make a detailed breakdown of costs. A cost calculator can help you compare communities more accurately. Your assisted living cost breakdown should include the fees for:
- Entrance or initial assessment
- Basic package of services
- Laundry and linens
- Medication management or assistance
- Help with activities of daily living
- Transportation and field trips
- Utilities like phone, TV, and internet
- Barber and salon appointments
“Be aware that some offer services on an à la carte basis while others may use an all-inclusive pricing structure or feature packages of services,” says Carol Bradley Bursack, author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “Unfortunately, this can make comparing total prices between communities challenging, so use care when weighing the options.”
You’ll also want to look for the hidden costs of assisted living. These are costs that fall outside of normal monthly expenses. For example, ask communities about upfront costs associated with moving in, cost of living rate increases, and additional fees if your loved one’s needs change.
How do you pay for assisted living?
Seniors typically use private funds to pay for assisted living. This might include funds from retirement accounts, personal savings, and pensions. Medicaid also pays for assisted living for people with lower income and fewer assets, but every state has different guidelines for eligibility.
In addition to private funds and Medicaid, some other ways to pay for assisted living might include:
- Long-term care insurance
- Veterans benefits
- Annuity income
- Bridge loans
- Converting a life insurance policy
Medicare, which is the federal health insurance program for people 65+, doesn’t pay for long-term care such as assisted living. However, it might pay for certain health care costs while your loved one is in long-term care.
How do you find the right senior care to fit your budget?
At the moment, it’s possible that Mom and Dad can continue living at home. Perhaps they only need assistance from time to time with chores around the house. If that’s the case, consider reaching out to our Care Advisors. They can connect you with local home care providers that fit your budget and needs.
It’s also important to plan ahead in case your loved one’s care needs change. If they start to require more and more help, then assisted living could become a more affordable option. You can prepare for the future by learning about all aspects of assisted living.
Cost of Care Survey (https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html)
Putting the Assisted Living Facility Contract Under a Microscope (https://www.consumerreports.org/elder-care/putting-the-assisted-living-facility-contract-under-a-microscope/)
Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: A Consumer’s Guide (https://www.ahcancal.org/Assisted-Living/Consumer-Resources/Documents/Choosing%20An%20Assisted%20Living%20Residence%202013.pdf)