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Understanding the Cost of Senior Living

Watch the news. Scroll your phone. Log on to Facebook. Everywhere you look someone is sharing senior living advice. How to declutter and downsize, what to do with your belongings, where to live, and how to pay for it.

There is a lot to think about. Which is why it makes sense to plan early and get a realistic view of what lies ahead. Let’s take a look at your choices:

Monthly Fee-Based Options

  • Independent Living

Independent living is the entry point into the senior community lifestyle. It is for active adults who are in good health. People who are able to take care of their own daily needs without extra help. Every community is different in terms of what is included in the monthly fee and what costs extra. Such as housekeeping, laundry service, dining, transportation, utilities and more. According to the most recent data available, a Place for Mom estimates that the average cost for independent living is $2,552 per month.

  • Assisted Living

Assisted living is the next level of care for seniors who need extra help due to chronic conditions or mobility issues. Residents may receive help with dressing, bathing and grooming, along with medication management and physical, occupational and/or speech therapy.  Just the right amount of assistance can make all the difference, but it’s important to understand that life an assisted living community is far from a nursing home.

The Cottonwoods Assisted Living community at Wichita Presbyterian Manor encourages seniors to experience life at their own pace, while supporting them with the help they need to maintain their independence. The campus also houses a special Memory Care neighborhood for people with cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. As you might expect, the cost of the accommodations increases as someone’s care needs grow.

  • Skilled Nursing Care

Skilled nursing care is a long-term care residential option for seniors who require a higher level of care than assisted living can offer. Nursing staff is available 24/7 to support individualized treatment plans for people with complex medical conditions. The goal of long-term care is to help seniors live the best possible quality of life in a safe and dignified setting. Long-term care is expensive, and Medicare will only pay for a certain number of days. Long-term care insurance policies can be a good investment to prepare for future needs. Ask your financial advisor or life insurance agent if this might be a good idea for you.

Entry-Fee Communities

Communities known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or a Life Plan Community typically require an entry fee in addition to a monthly fee. CCRCs offer a continuum of residential and health care options, from independent living to hospice care. You are able to transition to increasing levels of care as you age, all within the same community that you have come to call home. When you pay an entry fee, you are really paying for peace of mind. Many communities also refund a portion of your entry fee — to you or your estate — upon your departure. Price points differ by community, so be sure to do your research.

Paying for Your Senior Lifestyle

Cost doesn’t have to be an obstacle to enjoying a pleasant lifestyle. You can use the monies from the sale of your current home and/or your retirement savings from a 401k, IRA, or other investment vehicle. A reverse mortgage is another possibility.

It’s important to note that Medicare will not pay, with the exception of some long-term care coverage. However, veterans’ benefits programs may be helpful. Wichita Presbyterian Manor offers resources and worksheets that can help you understand and compare costs and financing options, even if you’re not ready to move yet.

You might find that you need to make some changes ahead of time — paying off your mortgage, getting rid of credit card debt and lowering automotive costs, for example. You might also need to tighten up your budget for right now, in order to save a little more for tomorrow.

Be sure to talk to a financial advisor who has your best interests in mind. They can help you understand what senior living will cost, as well as what you can comfortably afford.

Helpful Resources

The Cost of Living in a Retirement Community

How Continuing Care Retirement Communities Work

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