Many factors impact the price of assisted living. It is helpful for families to be aware of the factors that contribute to the monthly cost when making decisions about which assisted living residence to choose. These factors can be broken into two categories, which are explored in greater depth below.
1) Personal factors related to the resident, such as care needs and apartment choice.
2) Environmental factors, independent of the resident, such as state law and location.
Personal Factors Impacting Cost of Assisted Living
- Level of Care Required – The types of care assistance and the frequency of the assistance required is the greatest, single factor impacting the monthly cost of assisted living. Persons without any care needs might pay just for room, board and amenities. Others might require assistance eating, bathing and with medication management. A high level of care need might add 50% – 75% over the monthly base rate for room and board only. Be aware that many assisted living residences require a care need assessment before providing a quote for monthly cost.
- Apartment Choice – Most assisted living residences offer two or three types of apartments: studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms. An analysis finds that, on average, opting for a one-bedroom over a studio style apartment increases the monthly cost between 10% – 20%.
- Having a Roommate – one can share an apartment with a roommate, either by sharing a bedroom with twin beds or by renting a two-bedroom apartment, if offered. While not an option for everyone, especially those with dementia who have may sleep challenges, sharing an apartment can lower monthly costs 10% – 20%. Sharing an apartment does not impact level of care costs or food costs.
- Preference for Amenities – By amenities, we referring to how “fancy” the residence is as well as the type and number of recreational activities that are available. Generally speaking, the more amenities and recreational activities an assisted living residence has, the more it will cost. However, amenities are also impacted by the number of residents in the community. Larger communities (those with many residents) have more amenities and activities planned than smaller ones.
- Common Space Requirements – Should a resident prefer a significant amount of common space, such as outdoor walking paths and a variety of indoor rooms, such as a reading room, game room or movie room, this will increase the monthly cost, although not significantly. Common space and lack thereof is more a factor of local real estate costs. An assisted living residence in New York City is simply going to have less space available than a residence in rural area.
Environmental Factors Impacting Cost
- Geographic Location – Where a residence is located has a major impact on the monthly cost. Simply due to real estate economics, a residence in an urban area is going to be considerably more expensive than a suburban residence with lower real estate costs. Relocating outside a city can reduce monthly costs as much as 30 percent.
- State Regulation – Each of the fifty states has different regulations regarding what types of care can be provided in assisted living, fire codes, staffing regulations and a variety of other legal factors that can impact how expensive assisted living is.
- Occupancy Rate – Occupancy rate refers to the number of residents in a community divided by the number of available rooms. If a residence has 30 persons living there but space available for 40 persons, that community will have a 75% occupancy rate. A community’s occupancy rate is constantly changing and the occupancy rate at the point in time when a resident is considering moving in can significantly impact the monthly rate which they are quoted.