In most assisted living communities the basic monthly fee covers most of what is necessary to live comfortably, including:
- An apartment
- Two to three meals per day
- Utilities (heat, air-conditioning, electricity)
- Apartment and overall building/grounds maintenance
- Weekly housekeeping
- Laundry of bed linens
- 24-hour staffing
- The community’s social, fitness, cultural and educational programming
Help with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and grooming, as well as medication assistance, will be available but may or may not be included in the basic fee. If it is not, it will be available as an extra fee, either in a package or on an hourly basis.
Transportation to medical appointments and recreational trips, personal laundry service, and escorts and reminders for meals and activities may also be available at the community. These services may be covered in the base monthly fee or they may incur extra charges.
Services that most often incur an extra charge
Residents usually pay directly for:
- Cable TV
- Internet (although free Wi-Fi throughout the building is becoming more common)
- Phone service
- Hairdressing and other services in the in-house salon
- Dry cleaning and washing personal clothing (Most assisted living communities will do personal laundry for an additional fee, and all have laundry facilities onsite for residents who wish to do their own laundry)
- Personal toiletries, including health and beauty products, and incontinence care supplies
In New England where my assisted living communities are located, assisted living is a social not medical model of senior living care. Therefore, all medical care and medication costs are handled by the resident. Also, while medication management and incontinence are available at assisted living communities, they are very often not included in the basic fee as not every resident needs these services.
When to expect fluctuations in your monthly rate
Most assisted living communities have a year-long lease that residents sign, just like renting an apartment. The base monthly fee will be a set amount outlined in the lease, but the total monthly cost depends on the fee system used to calculate personal care.
Keep in mind that most assisted living communities will increase their fees every year on average by 5%, to keep up with inflation. Ask what their increases have been for the last few years to get a good indication for what to expect when your one-year lease is up for renewal.
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