Increased Assisted Living Costs Driving Seniors to Explore Long-Term Options

The nearly 1 million aging Americans who reside in assisted living facilities saw an overall 5% increase in average monthly costs last year, according to the 2012 American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) Sourcebook.

As an average monthly cost of $3,350 was reported, AALTCI reports that claims for nursing home care account for less than one-third of last year’s newly opened claims.

Long-term care insurance, many seniors are realizing according to Jesse Slome, executive director of AALTCI, allows beneficiaries the option to stay out of assisted living facilities and receive more economical care in their homes. While the monthly cost of assisted living facilities saw the 5% increase, from 2006 to 2011, home health care saw just under a 1% annualized increase, according to Slome.

“People today want choice and control about where they are going to live as they age,” said Slome. “They want to be as independent as possible for as long as possible and the benefit of having long term care insurance is that it provides the funds to permit just that.”

In addition to the increase in monthly costs, AALTCI also found a wide range in the monthly rates assisted living facilities charge. Monthly rates in Kansas City alone vary by more than $3,000 according to the sourcebook.

While prices will inevitably continue to rise, according to Slome, the aging generation will continue choosing the long term care option that best matches their economic situation.

“Assisted living is a wonderful option for the  people who can afford it,” said Slome. “But you have a large generation of Americans that has no plan for living a long life. Most people don’t have a plan, so they stumble along. Those who have a plan, they have any options available to them.

AALTCI also reports the average age of seniors moving into assisted living communities is 84.6, and residents stay in facilities for an average of 22 months.

Written by Erin Hegarty