Median Cost of an Assisted Living Community
As you research assisted living communities, price is a major consideration. You might be wondering just how much assisted living costs. Prices vary greatly depending on several factors. The size of the assisted living facility you choose, the types of services, and amount of care you require will all impact monthly fees. According to Genworth Financial, the national median cost of assisted living facilities in 2021 was $4,500 per month or $54,000 annually in the United States. Over 800,000 Americans currently reside in assisted living facilities, with just over half of residents being 85+ years old.1
These statistics go to show the importance of assisted living across the country. When choosing a senior living community, you should first consider the upfront costs. Assisted living communities and independent living communities generally have a monthly cost that could range from roughly $3,000 to $7,000, and may make certain hospitality and care services available for an additional monthly fee. If you’re looking for assisted living facilities, knowing the median cost of care across the country is a must.
Assisted Living vs. Aging in Place Costs
When it comes to choosing the best option for taking good care of senior loved ones, there is a constant debate between assisted living versus living at home. Many would argue that healthcare costs, especially for senior living, are increasing rapidly, but that is not entirely true. This public perception has to be corrected by making people aware of the realities of assisted living facilities.
Many people would prefer living at home for the comforts, conveniences, and general assumption that assisted living is more expensive. With technology, such as medical alert systems, seniors can safely be monitored in their homes. However, this won't be the best solution for seniors who need more hands-on care. According to Genworth, the overall cost of assisted living is significantly less than living at home with in-home care. Not to mention, the quality of life can be significantly improved by the daily assistance and resources of an assisted living facility.
Factors That Impact Costs
The secret to getting your money's worth when choosing assisted living facilities is knowing the factors that impact assisted living costs because the price structures of these are dependent on the level of care that a resident requires.
One of the first decisions you'll need to make is where you want to live. Ideally this will be somewhere close to your family or support system. It is important to know the median cost of care in different states which we have provided below based on Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey.
You’ll also need to consider rent, utility, maintenance, meal, and personal care costs. Independent living or living at home usually focuses on the cost of rent or a mortgage, which could result in overlooking other necessities for senior care. In assisted living, the expenses cover the necessary things to provide quality care. Assisted living is, in its essence, financially equal to living at home because the level of care assisted living facilities provide is what families should provide for older adults living at home. The only difference now is a question of where our seniors will participate in daily activities and entertainment to enhance their quality of life.
Living at home typically limits opportunities for social interactions and daily activities because entertainment is often cut back to save money. This is an unfortunate reality for many older adults living at home. There is an emphasis on this particular aspect because regular social activities are essential for seniors to stay fit and sharp. This can create an atmosphere similar to their pre-retirement life, which could be the difference between surviving and thriving.
If your main concern is affordability or your budget, Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey outlines the median daily, monthly, and annual costs of a private unit in an assisted living community in each state. This can serve as a good guide of what you can expect to spend on an assisted living facility in your state.
Assisted Living Cost by State (Updated January 2022)
|State||Daily cost||Monthly cost||Yearly cost|
|District of Columbia||$229||$6,978||$83,730|
Source: Genworth's Cost of Care Survey Data from the National Senior Living Cost Index
Check out our latest video on assisted living costs with SeniorLiving.org Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Hoyt, below!
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost for a Couple?
Assisted living can be a great option for mostly self-sufficient older couples who need a bit of help, but it can be expensive. As of 2021, the median monthly cost of assisted living was $4,500 per person. Couples typically don’t pay double, since they live in the same apartment, but will need to pay for the second person’s meals, medical care, and other expenses.
Pro Tip: Want to learn more about assisted living costs for couples? Take a look at our guide to senior living for couples for more details.
Of course, these costs vary greatly depending on the area of the country the facility is located in, the size of your living quarters, how luxurious the facility is, which amenities are included, and many other factors. In addition, if one or both of you need medical care, memory care, or other services, costs will increase.
Is Assisted Living Tax-Deductible?
Like everything related to the IRS, it depends.2 If you or a qualified dependent are in an assisted living facility primarily for medical care, you can typically deduct the entire expense. Otherwise, only the cost of medical services at the facility is deductible. You must itemize your taxes to claim this deduction, and there may be limits based on your income. Learn more from the IRS Medical and Dental Expenses publication.
How to Pay for Assisted Living
There are many different ways to pay for assisted living, from writing an out-of-pocket check each month to getting help from your insurance company. Many long-term care insurance policies offer assisted living coverage, and this is typically the least expensive option. Just remember that these policies usually need to be purchased long before you need them, so it may be difficult to obtain a new policy if you're looking to move to assisted living soon. Let's go through some of the most popular ways to pay for assisted living in more detail.
Paying Out of Pocket
It is very common for individuals to pay at least some of the cost of assisted living care out of pocket. This may come from retirement accounts, investments, savings accounts, or other sources of income. Paying out of pocket can be an option for those who have significant retirement savings or financial support otherwise. Paying out of pocket also means that seniors can keep the assets they own.
Selling a Home
In some situations, seniors who are moving into an assisted living community will no longer be able to live at home. Downsizing like this can provide an opportunity for older adults to use the funds from the sale of their home to cover the cost of assisted living community care. It is important to realize that this option depends on whether or not you own the home outright. If there is still a mortgage on the property, for example, it may be more difficult to sell the home for enough to pay for long-term care. Any mortgage on the home must be paid off before the remaining value can be used to pay for care.
Does Insurance Cover Assisted Living?
In general, private health insurance does not cover assisted living.3 Of course, every plan is different, so it never hurts to call your insurer and ask. You may get at least some coverage for medical care provided by the assisted living facility. Some Medicare Advantage, and most long-term care insurance plans, cover assisted living costs, but again, it varies greatly by plan. It's best to call your provider for coverage details.
Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cover Assisted Living?
In general, yes; long-term care insurance covers assisted living costs. The specifics depend on your policy and provider, but long-term care insurance is specifically designed to cover the costs associated with aging or chronic disability. In most cases, it's flexible enough to cover some or all of the costs of assisted living. However, you may need to meet certain qualifications, such as needing help with at least two activities of daily living (ADLs).
Does Medicare Pay for Assisted Living?
Medicare does not cover room and board or assistance with ADLs in an assisted living facility. However, it may pay for medical services rendered by the facility, as well as home health services such as physical and occupational therapy, skilled nursing care, or medical social services. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have more coverage. Consult that plan specifically to learn the type and amount of coverage available to you.
Does Medicaid Pay for Assisted Living?
Medicaid is administered by the states, so exactly what is covered will vary. In many cases, nursing services and personal care assistance are covered. However, states are not legally allowed to use Medicaid funds to cover room and board. Some states have alternative programs to help Medicaid recipients pay for these costs, while others do not. Visit your state's Medicaid website for more details about what funding might be available.
Does the VA Pay for Assisted Living?
The VA does not pay for rent and basic services in an assisted living facility. However, in some situations, the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension can be a source of help for paying for assisted living. Individuals who qualify must have a total net worth of less than $138,489. This program can pay out a significant sum per month to help cover these costs. Veterans programs – both state and federal-level programs – aside from this may also be helpful. Those with VA health benefits may also be eligible for coverage for specific services, such as medical care provided within the facility.
Is There Assisted Living Near Me?
Nearly every state has several assisted living communities available. To find the one closest to home, use our senior living database. This directory makes it easy to find assisted living communities located throughout the state and community you are in. Nearly all areas will offer options for older adults, including some for those with special needs, limited budgets, or specific desires in programming and services.