Real Cost of Retirement Living

Your long-term goals and medical condition will dramatically impact the true cost of retirement. In the past, it was common for people to enter retirement facilities such as nursing homes when they were too old to care for themselves or their home. Today, most people intend to stay in their home as long as possible but are willing to consider alternative living arrangements such as retirement communities and assisted living facilities to provide them with sense of community and assistance they need. 

As you plan for retirement, you must take into consideration the true cost of retirement housing, in any form. Retirement communities, assisted living or skilled nursing facilities or simply staying in your home are all viable options. The question is what are the likely costs of each of these decisions?

                                                            Vineyard in Yountville, Napa Valley, California

                                                            Vineyard in Yountville, Napa Valley, California

Senior Independent Living Facilities

One of the newest and perhaps the most exciting type of senior housing option for retired people is a senior independent living facility. In order to live in these communities, you will need to be healthy and self-sufficient, at least enough to care for yourself on most levels. These communities of seniors do share some community services such as laundry and plan group meals. They also have transportation provided for them. These are many planned events including social groups and cultural outings. 

The benefit of this type of complex is socialization of peers; spending time with a community of people who you like and get to know. More so, it may be a better option than living at home alone because studies show those who are mentally and social active are also more healthy and push off illness longer.

Independent living facilities come in several forms:

  • Retirement communities;
  • Senior apartment complexes;
  • Senior housing complexes, and;
  • Retirement homes.

Current costs for independent living facilities will range from $1,500 to $4,000 per month depending on location. This is the present rate; be mindful of the escalating costs because of inflation. Depending on your age, your personal financial planning should reflect the future costs based on reasonable assumptions of rising costs of 4-8% per annum. 

Long Term Health Care 

Long term health care facilities are becoming more necessary. Seniors who are facing chronic illnesses or are unable to physically accomplish everyday goals often need to find long term medical assistance. Assisted living facilities are a good example of this type of living. 

These arrangements offer regular medical attention. Unlike a traditional nursing home, many assisted living facilities are spacious, provide for community rooms and are much more socially and physically acceptable to aging people. Assisted living facilities provide you with small apartments that often offer better safety features and they are generally readily accessible to emergency needs with security. 

These facilities provide care including:

  • Weekly housekeeping and laundry needs;
  • Personal care including bathing, dressing and medication assistance;
  • Meal preparation usually provided within a dining facility;
  • Specialized Alzheimer and Dementia care when needed;
  • Transportation for outings, shopping, and medical appointments, and;
  • Organized activities.

Long term assisted living provides various medical benefits for those advancing in age and in need of more help. For these extra services, you can expect to pay any place from $3,000 to $6,000 per month (or more), depending on the level of need and location.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

A step-up from long-term housing are skilled nursing facilities. These provide additional medical help and attention are often a necessary step for full time medical attention. Nursing facilities provide help such as monitoring blood pressure, administering injections and medications, providing for wound care and so on.

Those living in these types of facilities will have private rooms usually with shared dining facilities. There are various degrees of care available including skilled nursing care and custodial care.

For these services, you can expect to pay $3,500 to $7,000 per month for a shared room. Private rooms are available at additional cost. Medicare and Medicare supplements do provide some help, but most are limited.

Staying Home

Perhaps you plan to stay at home, hiring support to help you throughout the day. This is the most private of the options you have. Yet, for many people, finding a way to remain at home and in as normal of a life as they can, is the best route to take. 

In home care giving will range widely. Since these caregivers work various hours, provide various services and are specialized professionals, it is hard to estimate an expected total cost. For basic care, such as daily visits for medication, to prepare a meal and to help with dressing and care, you can expect to pay $20 to $50 per hour of service. Live in caregivers are another option. There will be less cash expense because your costs are offset by providing a room and board. 

The costs of advanced retirement living can be quite expensive. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if you will need this type of medical help, or when. Many couples are living long, healthy lives well into their 70's and 80's without additional assistance. Yet, when illness or accidents happen, these costs are very real and your retirement planning should reflect that possibility.


For more information on RETIREMENT PLANNING, read these related articles:

Real Threat to Retirement

Sequence of Returns Matters

4 Retirement Reality Checks

Retirement Income Studies