Hidden Costs of Assisted Living
Once you or loved one has made the decision that assisted living would be a good move, the next question is usually: How much will it cost? The national median cost for assisted living is $3,750 per month, but prices vary widely from state to state and facility to facility.
The way assisted living facilities break down their costs also differs from facility to facility. Many residences charge a basic fee, which includes rent, meals, housekeeping, access to activities and exercise. Then they will group additional services, like therapies and medication disbursement, into different payment tiers. Other facilities consider themselves all-inclusive, but may have add-on fees, which can increase a monthly bill by several hundred or even thousands of dollars.
Some facilities, after a periodic assessment, may either try to bump a resident’s payment plan up a tier or start charging more for added services. You are entitled to contest the additional services and fees as long as you can prove they are not needed, which may require the assistance of a geriatric care manager, social worker or other professionals who can attest to that.
It’s important to read the contract carefully and make sure the costs of all services are clearly indicated. Services that may incur additional fees can include:
Dressing Fees can be split for dressing in the morning and undressing in the evening.
Bathing Fees may be different for full help with showering or having someone in the room while the individual showers.
Bathroom/incontinence care. Some individuals may need help getting to and from the bathroom, sitting and standing, wiping, and changing adult diapers.
Health screening before moving in Some facilities include this in their overall pricing upon move-in, but others many indicate it on the bill as a separate one-time charge.
Medication management Depending on the needs of the resident, staff may simply remind a resident to take his or her daily dosage, while other facilities will store and administer medications and record medication disbursement.
On-site pharmacy or doctor access Does the facility have a doctor or pharmacy onsite? You may be charged an additional fee for the convenience, disguised as a monthly “facility fee.” However, the services the doctor renders or the price of the prescription may be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
Treatment for temporary wounds or illness Some facilities will tack on an additional fee for cleaning out and monitoring wounds from a fall or helping a resident get over a long-lasting flu.
Blood pressure monitoring
Blood glucose monitoring and insulin injections
Mobility and Other Care Costs
Escort to and from the dining room or activity center
Checking in on resident at regular intervals
Reminders This may include reminders to go to the bathroom every few hours or before bed, to take medication or to get to weekly activities and therapies on time.
Use of gym or spa, if available on premises
Transportation to area shops, doctor’s office
Admission/Discharge A one-time admissions fee may show up on bills under names like Service Initiation Fee or Community Service Fee. Also, look at the fine print in the contract for discharge policies to make sure you are entitled to a refund for prepaid services that were not used.
Extra fee to deep-clean the bathroom Hard to believe, but although most cleaning services are part of a standard monthly charge, some facilities may add on a deep-cleaning charge from time to time.
Other Hidden Costs
These are costs that aren’t charged by the assisted living facility itself, but ones that you or a loved one might incur as part of the transition to assisted living.
Moving costs Includes hiring a junk removal service, paying for movers and/or the costs involved in selling a house
Lawyer or elder care manager fees
(This article originally appeared on Samada.com.)
By Kaya Laterman
Kaya Laterman is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn, N.Y.