Aging In Place vs Senior Living: How To Compare Costs

September 23, 2022

The decision many seniors face to age in place versus move to senior living isn’t just an emotional or a lifestyle one; often there are financial considerations too, which can pose unique challenges. Getting the help you need as you age can boil down to the simple question: how much does assisted living cost? Assessing what’s best from a money standpoint requires both careful consideration of what’s true now and some educated speculation as to what the future holds. It’s a process best begun with some solid advice – ideally from an expert trained in senior finances – but regardless gleaned from thorough assessment. Here are some critical factors to consider before diving in:

The Cost of Aging in Place

According to the CDC, aging in place requires the ability to live in one’s own home safely, independently, and comfortably. Before we get into the hidden costs of aging, let’s start with the reality that living at home isn’t free, even after the mortgage is paid off. There are fixed costs like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, and cable to consider, as well as routine care and maintenance expenses such as landscaping, exterminating, and snow plowing.

Now in terms of aging in place safely, independently, and comfortably, most homes will require some amount of property modification. Basic alterations like adding chair rails, installing grab bars, and changing door knobs to door handles can cost roughly $10,000. For many homeowners, aging safe means adding more costly elements, such as

  • Slip-resistant flooring
  • Better lighting
  • At least one step-free entrance
  • Wider doorways (32-36” is recommended)
  • Wheelchair-accessible tub and shower stall
  • Non-skid bathroom tile and tub surface
  • Generator to prevent loss of power

These types of renovations can drive improvement costs up to or over $100,000, depending on materials and labor.
There are also potential transportation costs to consider for those who can no longer drive, as well as food-related expenses for seniors who move to a special diet or who can no longer cook for themselves.

Senior Living Price Tag

Most senior living communities operate via a monthly fee that can range anywhere from the low- to mid-thousands, with certain hospitality and care services available for additional cost. Some require a move-in or entrance fee, depending on the configuration. Home maintenance costs like taxes, insurance, repairs, and utilities are all covered by that monthly fee.

Also covered are a full meal plan – often unlimited and some served on demand, as is the case at LCB communities – as well as access to amenities like a fitness center, barber shop, recreation room and transportation.

Included in that monthly outlay and unique to senior communities is full access to their enrichment programming, or Engagement Calendar. At LCB, this can mean 10-12 activities happening each day, such as informational lectures; art classes; aqua aerobics; tai chi; guided museum trips; book groups; yoga, and hiking trips.

Because costs can vary widely in senior and assisted living, we recommend scheduling on-site appointments at a minimum of three communities to get the best comparison.

Gain more detailed insight into how much assisted living costs, and your range of options that lie in-between – download our Stay or Go Guide and ensure you make the best choice to suit your needs.

Download Guide