Overview of Senior Living Options: Where Do I Start?

There are many things to consider when the time comes to downsize from a large family home, such as: what kind of community is going to meet your needs and wants? What can you afford?  What do you want the next chapter of your life to look like? My goal is to give you a quick overview of the various choices available, along with the associated costs. This information should help direct your search and save you time.

Highest level of support: Skilled Nursing will provide all meals and all levels of care that can be provided outside of a hospital setting. Short-term stays for rehabilitation are usually paid for by Medicare and supplemental insurance. Average age is 85, and programs/activities are limited.  Long-term stays are privately paid (unless you have a long-term care insurance policy) and the average cost is between $8,000 and $12,000 per month.

Next level of support: Assisted Living will provide all meals and all necessary care that can be done outside of a skilled nursing setting. These communities often offer memory care which provides a secure environment. Average age is 85, and programs/activities are more involved. The average cost is between $5,000 and $9,000 per month.

Lower level of support: Independent Living will provide some sort of meal program; some communities include meals with rent while others have additional charges. Some Independent Living communities will have home care options available to provide additional care if needed. Average age is 85 and programs/activities will be more robust. The average cost is between $3,000 and $6,000 per month.

Lowest level of support: Active Adult Living will provide minimal meals; some communities like Avenida Lakewood provide continental breakfast Monday through Saturday while others only offer meals occasionally. Care services are not available, but residents can hire their own help if so desired.  Very robust programs, activities, and amenities are included, and average age is 70. Cost is typically between $1,700 and $3,500 per month.

What if you stay home? Many people may choose this option. However, for planning purposes, it is important to know that this can and often does become the most expensive option.  If you start needing full-time care, you will likely pay from $15,000 to $20,000 a month to have bonded, insured, and agency-trained caregivers.

Do you have long-term care insurance? Not all older adults procure long-term insurance because of high premium costs. If you have a policy but have not looked at it in a while, it might be a good time to review it. Many policies will cover Long-Term Care stays as well as Assisted Living and some home care. If you need help reviewing your policy so you are confident about what it covers, please feel free to contact me.  Or, if in reading this article, you have other questions about different housing options, don’t hesitate to contact me. My goal is always to be a resource to you so you can plan your best possible future.

Shelly Stewart-Girton LPN
Avenida Lakewood


  1. With the current situation with the Coronavirus, insurance provides more money to stay at home for care and avoid the high-risk nursing home care.
    * The Federal Deficit Reduction Act provided for every state to have a Partnership program to provide asset protection for those who buy qualified long term care insurance policies. https://www.partnershipforlongtermcare.com
    * An alternative are linked products, Life Insurance or Annuities with long term care riders, popular with people that have high net worth. In most states you can also use your qualified money (IRA/401k) to fund your plan. https://www.lifeinsuranceltc.com
    Some companies have a cash option you can pay family and friends for care.

  2. It’s great to learn that there are living facilities that could assist seniors with their meals and other care needs. My friend’s uncle is getting older as the days pass by, and she finds it hard to take care of him and her family. She should probably consider looking for these facilities around her area.

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