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The Confusing Cost of Continuing Care

For many aging seniors, the best living and care arrangement may be a continuing care residential community. Indeed, some 800,000 people already have made that choice. Continuing care residential facilities offer a wide range of options designed to evolve with your needs. Unfortunately, it is just this wide range of options that can make the process of choosing the best facility for yourself or a loved one all the more confusing, especially when it comes to determining costs.

Smart Money recently ran an article on the Confusing Costs of Continuing Care, outlining some of the more vexing difficulties, and offering tips on how to research a facility before making a choice.

Continuing care facilities can vary widely from one another in terms of costs and options, so much so that “a 10-year stay at one facility might cost well over $1 million; at another, a resident might pay just $300,000. And even within a single facility, the primary costs — the entry and monthly charges — can be structured in many different ways, making it hard to compare the value of one to another,” says Steve Maag, the director for assisted living at the Association of Home & Services for the Aging.

When researching a facility, try to determine the full extent of the entry and monthly charges, and what those fees cover. The varying options might mean that even the same monthly fees in several facilities aren’t comparable in terms of service or ultimate costs.

According to the American Institute for Economic Research, the best way to research the true cost of a continuing care facility is to obtain a detailed inventory of the services offered under the monthly fee, a record of fee increases over the past five years and the facility’s policy for fee increases. Then you’ll need to balance the fees for your needs (or those of your loved one) and lifestyle. For example, a higher entrance fee might mean lower monthly fees but fewer amenities or services. Don’t hesitate to consult a qualified attorney or accountant to help determine which facility might be best for you, given your needs and your financial resources.

Learn more about long-term care options by visiting the Medicaid and Nursing Home Planning and Life Care Planning pages on our website. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) also sponsors an online senior housing directory called Snap for Seniors, where you can find an abundance of quality information about senior housing options, including continuing care residential communities.