The Outrageous Cost of Assisted Living

Rising more than 5 percent last year alone.

By Laurie Orlov

Perhaps you saw the recent article on The New York Times’ “New Old Age” blog about one family's encounter with the ballooning costs of assisted living.

The article pointed out that nationwide year-over-year costs for assisted living have risen 5.2 percent. It profiled one 72-year-old gentleman who needed a higher level of care than he had previously received, increasing his annual housing costs by 18 percent (an additional $12,000).

I heard another story recently about a woman who has been paying for a nursing home to the tune of $100,000 a year for a number of years. Why? Because she had the ability to pay. She spends her days reading books in the hallway.

Another example of the rising cost was a story I heard about a woman who was charged a total of $11,000 a month for housing. That amount included $4,600 a month for non-facility companion aides to “watch” here and prevent her from wandering off 12 hours a day. Then there is the story I came across of a locked memory care unit in a wealthy town where a studio apartment starts at $7,400 a month.

All of these examples show “prices” of care completely out of proportion to the labor and actual delivery of the care itself.

The New York Times recently ran an article on this issue, saying that "[assisted living] institutions often urge families to approach assisted living a bit more realistically."

Yes, realism would be good -- regular meetings and clarity on future costs would also be good.

"It’s important for people to remember that their loved one is moving into assisted living because they need services," said David Kyllo, executive director of the National Center for Assisted Living. "They’re not moving in because of a change in address. It’s needs-driven." 

I find that to be a rather snippy comment on the circumstance of a family understandably appalled by price hikes.

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