By considering the following insider tips from assisted living professionals, families can save money on assisted living, independent living and other types of senior living residential care. To find financial assistance for assisted living, please use our Resource Locator Tool.
1) Room Choice
Almost all assisted living communities offer residents a choice of room size. Modern communities typically offer enough public spaces and activity rooms, that residents often find they don’t require a large private room. Annually, this can result in a savings of $6,000 - $8,000 for a community that charges the national average of $3,600 / month.
2) Room Share
Most assisted living residences offer two-bedroom rooms and while a shared living situation is not appropriate for everyone, sharing a room can save 10% - 20% over a single unit. For a community of average cost, this saves $4,000 - $8,000 / year. An additional benefit of sharing a room is the increased living space and a separation of sleeping and socializing areas. Furthermore, many seniors find a social benefit in having a suite-mate.
3) Community Size
One might think that larger assisted living communities can provide care services at a lower cost due to economy of scale. However, because regulations differ for smaller and larger communities this is not the case. One may find “lower bed count” assisted living residences to be less expensive even when they are offering the same quality of care in the same geographic area. Free assistance is available to help families locate these smaller residences.
4) Leave the City
The same level and quality of care usually costs more in urban areas due to higher real estate values and the increased cost of living. Finding an assisted living residence just an hour away from a city can reduce costs as much as 25%. An additional benefit is the increased personal space in suburban or rural assisted living communities. Typically, non-urban assisted living communities are built specifically for this purpose while city residences are conversions of existing properties.
5) Leave the State
There exist very large cost variations in assisted living across the 50 states. In addition to the local cost index, different state regulations play a role. This makes it possible for families living near state borders or those living in small states to save money by finding assisted living communities in neighboring states. Families with adult children living in different states may also benefit from this approach. To see the average cost of assisted living by state, look at our Assisted Living Cost Calculator. One might even consider leaving the country; learn about assisted living in Mexico.
6) Time Your Entrance
Assisted living residences, especially larger ones, are subject to many of the same financial pressures as other businesses. Residences are often willing to give price breaks at the end of month, end of the calendar quarter or their financial quarter.
For families that are looking for assisted living without a time constraint, this can result in significant savings. While most communities resist negotiating on the monthly rent, they will often waive the “community fee” which can equal several months rent or offer "move-in" credits.
7) Occupancy Rates as an Advantage
Assisted living residences need to maintain a certain occupancy level to optimize their operation. When they have a lot of “empty beds”, they become willing to make concessions such as waiving community fees or offering move-in credits. These can reduce initial costs by as much as $2,000 - $10,000.
Assisted living communities do not share their occupancy rate information with potential residents but they often share it with assisted living referral services and private geriatric care managers. One such referral service is the organization, A Place for Mom. Working with this service is free to the family and may help reduce the cost of admission to an assisted living community.
Another option is to find an assisted living community that is just opening. Usually communities have around 10% vacancy, a new community will have to fill 100% of its rooms. Therefore, in addition to being in new condition, the management may be willing to negotiate. Again, A Place for Mom can help families to find brand new communities.
8) Level of Care
The service contract with an assisted living community stipulates the “level of care” required by the resident. The level of care specifically lists the services required by the resident and the cost of those services. Some communities offer both an all-inclusive package and care on an as-needed basis. Choosing the correct right level of care can save families hundreds of dollars / month. Learn more about assisted living fee structures.
On occasion families do not have a good idea of the exact level of care required. There are public counselors at the Area Agencies on Aging and private Geriatric Care Managers that help families determine exactly how much and what types of care are necessary. These assessments can sometimes result in savings greater than the cost of hiring a care manager.
Search for Agency Counselors and Care Managers here.
An assessment includes but is not limited to the following areas:
Bathing – the frequency and amount of assistance required
Dressing – assistance choosing the appropriate clothing for the weather and dressing themselves
Grooming – assistance brushing one’s hair and teeth and, for men, with shaving
Mobility – assistance with mobility and transferring to and from a wheelchair
Continence – assistance managing continence
Generalized Behavior – such as resistance to assistance and wandering
Eating – assistance with the selection of foods and the physical effort of feeding oneself.
Medications – distribution and supervision of medicine including the number of medications, frequency and the delivery method, oral vs. injection
Laundry and housekeeping services
Dementia – additional monitoring and assistance for patients with dementia