Often confused with nursing homes, assisted living facilities are in fact quite different. The easiest way to determine which category a facility falls under is to look at what it can’t do in regard to medical services. Assisted living facilities are not licensed to give skilled nursing care, do not have the same safety or administrative requirements as a skilled nursing facility, and are not regulated by the state Department of Health. Instead, the focus of assisted living is to provide a healthy social environment and prevent social isolation in a supervised community while offering some personal care services. Senior living comes at a price, though fees range widely. A 2015 survey estimated that the median monthly care costs in Kentucky were $3,350 for a one-bedroom in an assisted living facility, with a minimum of $1,181 and a maximum of $10,125. There are many factors that contribute to such a wide variation in cost, including:
- Non-care-related amenities – How luxurious is the facility?
- Level of care – Many assisted living communities offer more than one level.
- Location – Urban vs. rural can affect rent and staff salaries.
- Bed size – Larger facilities with more residents tend to charge more than smaller ones.
- Look in neighboring states or communities that may have different regulations that make the cost of assisted living more affordable.
- Consider a shared room, shared bathroom, or smaller apartment.
- Look for brand new assisted living communities, because they will have a lot of rooms to fill quickly and may be willing to negotiate a discounted rate.
- Rural or suburban facilities may be able to offer more personal space and common space for less money than urban ones.
- Shop around – and get a more competitive quote by letting the marketing directors of the residences know that you are considering other communities.
- Ask about price flexibility. Many places will offer incentives or be willing to negotiate, especially if they have an occupancy rate of less than 90 percent.
- Consider long-term care insurance.
- Weigh the costs and benefits of a la carte pricing, as opposed to inclusive rates.
- If your loved one or his or her spouse has served in the armed forces, they may be eligible for veterans’ benefits.