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cost of senior living

Breaking Down Senior Living: What You Need To Know and How Much It Costs

 |  Senior Living

If you’re considering retirement options but feeling overwhelmed by independent living costs and how to pay for senior living, you’re not alone. It’s a common concern among older adults, especially with rising long-term care costs. Communities offering skilled nursing and long-term care—often called nursing homes—can cost an average of $7,750 per month in Texas. Assisted living and memory care aren’t far behind, costing $4,369 per month on average.

The prospect of affording senior living, particularly when it involves health care needs—can seem daunting. Still, with the correct information and planning, you can figure out how to pay for independent living in a community that best fits your financial and lifestyle needs. We’ll break it all down for you in this blog, including types of senior living communities, contract options, payment structures, and how to plan ahead and mitigate health-related expenses.

Senior Living for Every Lifestyle

When you start researching senior living for yourself or a loved one, you’ll find several types of communities depending on care needs, lifestyle and budget.

  • Independent living communities are designed for active older adults who want to maintain independence while enjoying amenities and social activities.
  • Assisted living communities assist with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing and medication management, while promoting independence.
  • Memory care communities offer specialized care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Life Plan communities, or continuing care retirement communities, provide a continuum of care from independent living to skilled nursing care. They allow residents to age in place with access to services and amenities to keep them active, healthy and fulfilled.

If you’re wondering, “How much does independent living cost?” or “How does assisted living work financially?” the answer depends on the senior living community’s entrance fees, monthly payments and type of contract.

The entrance fee, a one-time payment upon moving into a community, varies from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, with refundability contingent upon contract type—meaning, you or your estate will receive some of the money back after you leave the community.

Monthly payments cover a range of services and amenities such as housing, meals, utilities, housekeeping, transportation and recreational activities.

With rental agreements, you’ll pay a monthly fee for services and amenities, with no upfront entrance fee. This option offers flexibility but may lack long-term care cost predictability.

With a fee-for-service contract, residents pay for services as needed, with no entrance fee. While this option offers flexibility, costs can escalate if additional care is required.

Independent Living Costs and LifeCare

LifeCare® is another type of contract. This comprehensive offering answers the “how to pay for senior living” question and much more. LifeCare at Carillon offers independent living and guarantees unlimited access to assisted living, memory care and 24-hour nursing care, all for essentially the same monthly cost you have when you move into our community.

It ensures your future needs are met should you require a higher level of care, giving you and your loved ones peace of mind. Think of LifeCare as future-proofing your needs without worrying about relocating or escalating costs. It provides an additional layer of security, especially if you don’t have long-term care insurance. Plus, there are potential tax benefits, such as deducting a portion of your entrance fee on your income tax return.

How To Pay for Senior Independent Living

When evaluating the affordability of senior living, consider the following:

  1. Income and assets: Assess your retirement savings, pension, Social Security benefits and other sources of revenue.
  2. Long-term care insurance: Determine if you have long-term care insurance coverage and understand its benefits and limitations.
  3. Medicare: While Medicare typically does not cover the cost of senior living, some communities may accept Medicare for certain services, such as skilled nursing care or rehabilitation therapy.


What’s Included

While the services, amenities and care options covered by senior living fees vary by community, they may include:

  • Housing: Private residences, including apartment homes, cottages or villas.
  • Meals: Restaurant-style dining venues with multiple meal options, dietary accommodations and customized menus.
  • Personal care: For an additional fee you can get assistance with activities of daily living, medication management and health care coordination.
  • Services: Maintenance, housekeeping, utilities, exercise classes, wellness programs, community outings, transportation and security.
  • Amenities: Fitness center, swimming pool, library, art studio, salon and spa, woodworking shop, billiards and pet-friendly spaces.

Affording senior living requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, including income, assets, insurance coverage, contract types and payment structures. Understanding your options will enable you to make informed decisions that meet your needs and budget.

Senior living is an investment in your future well-being and quality of life. Check out our cost calculator to discover your perfect financial fit at Carillon.

Featured Image: BearFotos / Shutterstock