Finding an assisted living facility for a loved one can be very draining on the emotions as well as the finances. Because assisted living has such a broad definition depending on the state the resident is in and the services the facility offers, there are many options available. Before settling on a particular facility, it is important to know how and what may be negotiated when it comes to pricing, as assisted living can be a very costly expense. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey of 2015, the average monthly rate for assisted living is $3,500, which is a 2.14 percent increase over the prior year. Although Medicaid might pay a portion of that amount in some cases, it still leaves a hefty portion to come out of seniors' or caregivers' pockets.

Here are five easy ways to help lower those costs.

Ask About Incentives

Many assisted living facilities offer incentives to move in, especially when vacancies are abundant. There is no reason not to ask each facility about any upcoming specials. There may be a variety of different incentives, including:

  • Discounted rent for a period of time
  • Freezes on rent, eliminating unpleasant increases down the road

These are just a few of the incentives a facility may offer. The key is asking for specifics. The worst they can say is that they do not have any incentives!

Go A La Carte

According to Argentum, most assisted living facilities offer a tiered system when it comes to paying for assisted living services. Bundling the services will most likely result in the highest price, because the bundle may include a multitude of services, some of which an elderly loved one might not need. To make room for negotiation, caregivers/family members do well to consider picking and choosing which services the elderly loved one really requires. This way the loved one is well cared for, but money is not thrown away paying for services that are never used.

Pay for Additional Fees Separately

If there are special services that a loved one might benefit from once in a while, but not on a regular basis, it is important to talk to the facility about contracting for those services as needed. These extra services, and their frequency, should be included in any contract in order to know the exact costs, but should only be rendered upon

Ask for Regular Evaluations

An elderly loved one's needs are going to change with age and perhaps with his or her preferences. Long term contracts may compel loved ones to pay for services the elderly loved one is no longer able to enjoy. Regular evaluations at pre-determined periods ensure that the elderly loved one's needs are being discovered and the services rendered being adjusted. This can save money and provide the reassurance that an elderly loved one's needs are being continually monitored.

Avoid the Entrance Fee

Many assisted living facilities charge what is called an entrance fee. In some cases, the fee is minimal, while other times it can reach into the thousands. The entrance fee typically has no bearing on whether or not an elderly person is able to secure a room and is often the one area that has the most room for negotiation. The best way to get a facility to agree to waive the fee entirely is to catch them during a period of high vacancy. This is when the facility will want to do whatever is necessary to increase the number of residents living there, including waiving the entrance fee.

Whether a family has planned for the cost of assisted living or is caught by surprise, paying for it can be quite unpleasant. The various factors affecting the costs include the size of the apartment, the services provided, and the length of the agreement. Negotiating the various services provided will result in the most success. Tiered services, according to Argentum, are the most common. Bundled services may mean that residents and/or their loved ones pay for services that are not being used.

Being an informed consumer is important when it comes to paying for an elderly loved one's assisted living needs so that his or her needs are met, yet the financial obligations involved are not so overwhelming that it becomes impossible to keep paying for the loved one's care.

Sources

Argentum. Cost of Assisted Living. Available at http://www.alfa.org/alfa/Assessing_Cost.asp. Accessed on June 19, 2016.

Genworth. Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey. Available at https://www.genworth.com/dam/Americas/US/PDFs/Consumer/corporate/130568_040115_gnw.pdf. Accessed on June 19, 2016.

Florida Affordable Assisted Living. Department of Elder Affairs. State of Florida. Available at http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/faal/consumer/facilityselect.php. Accessed on June 19, 2016.

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