The first priority in locating quality memory care or assisted living options is finding a place that you trust and that is known for its high-quality care.
The second priority is finding a place you can afford.
Factors To Evaluate When Searching For Affordable Memory Care
It’s important to perform thorough due-diligence when comparing the costs of various memory care and assisted living facilities.
Unfortunately, many facilities hide “extra costs” when advertising their per/month rates, and that can become detrimental if your loved one has moved in and you find the monthly charge is notably more than you estimated.
Moving into an assisted living facility can be hard, and it can be even more so if you have to move your loved one to yet another facility as the result of hidden fees or unexpected costs.
Similarly, the very act of terminating the contract at one facility and establishing a new one can cost you thousands of wasted dollars. This is because, in addition to losing the remaining balance on the existing contract, odds are you’ll have another deposit and other associated fees attached to the new contract.
Identifying affordable assisted living or memory care options doesn’t have to be challenging. If numbers and details aren’t your forte, enlist the help of a family member, friend or your accountant to review paperwork with you and make sure you aren’t missing anything before making your final choice.
Ultimately, you want to choose a place that has the highest-quality care, meals, amenities and activities for the most affordable price.
Comparing Advertised Cost & Hidden Costs
One of the most important things to keep in mind when searching for affordable assisted living or memory care is the discrepancy between the “advertised cost” and the “hidden costs.”
When you’re making such an important choice, you need all of the facts at hand to make a well-informed decision, and this includes a complete and detailed list of all costs – not just the basic “room and board” fees.
Common Fees Included (but not always)
Here are some of the most common fees included in a general price estimate. Keep in mind that every facility is different, so you’ll want to confirm specific costs with each prospective facility you visit.
- Access to general exercise and activities
Those are just the basics, and you may be surprised to find that other services you “assumed” were included (often the services the facility promotes during your tour and visits) cost extra.
Ask About Hidden Fees
Some of the hidden fees that might surprise you include:
- Certain occupational or physical therapies prescribed by medical staff
- Periodic “assessment fees,” similar to HOA dues, that are bumped up over time
- Hygiene costs, including dressing, bathing, incontinence care, and laundry
- Medication management and medication distribution
- The initial (and possibly subsequent) health screenings
- On-site physician and pharmacy access
- Treatment for temporary wounds, illnesses or injuries
- General wellness monitoring, such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels
- Escorts to activities or dining center(s)
- Periodic wellness check-ins
- Transportation to various events, outings, or off-site appointments
- Extra fees for deep-cleaning of the bathroom or other areas
- Moving costs
- Telephone charges
- Fees/charges for contracted- or atypical special events, classes or activities
While charging extra for non-contracted services and extras isn’t unethical, it’s imperative that you know exactly what is included – and what is not – so you can plan accordingly.
For example, your preferred memory care center may charge extra for off-site transportation, and that’s fine. By knowing that, you can get your preferences in writing, stating that your spouse or loved one is only budgeted to go on inclusive outings OR a stated number of charged outings per month.
Are Special Amenities & Services Worth The Extra Money?
When you’re touring various facilities, take a good, analytical look at their amenities, classes, and services. You may be surprised when you factor in your total budget and find that spending slightly more per month for a memory care center with superior amenities is well-worth it.
For one thing, you and your family members will save money each week if you’re able to join your spouse, parent or grandparent at the in-house Pub or Cafe, or to catch a movie at the on-site theater.
The water exercise, aerobics, yoga or dance classes offered as part of an all-inclusive assisted living facility may be more affordable than the gym membership and other extracurricular dues and fees your loved one insisted in keeping up, even after s/he couldn’t attend anymore.
Does All-Inclusive Affordable Memory Care Mean All-Inclusive?
When you keep the above “hidden charges” potential in mind, all-inclusive memory care centers begin to look more affordable. What used to seem like a notably higher per/month charge now starts to become more reasonable.
For example, The Memory Care Center is considered an all-inclusive community. We provide a detailed and itemized list of costs to any prospective and current residents and their families as requested.
Among the basic services, our monthly fees include services such as dressing/grooming and toileting, regular laundry and linen services, items “purchased” from visits to our General Store and any outings offered by our Activities Program and more.
Even so, there are a few things that aren’t included in that “all-inclusive” price.
For example, we charge residents for certain services or items such as:
- Long-distance telephone calls
- Incontinence supplies
- Salon services
- Transportation to off-site appointments
However, we are always happy to pre-arrange a budget or restrictions based on your wishes.
So, for example, if your mother enjoys her monthly salon appointment, we’ll keep that to once per month and gently remind her of her “upcoming appointment” if she tries to book an extra appointment. Honesty and clarity around charges are essential to making the right decision for your loved one.
Finding Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living
Ultimately, your prospective memory care and assisted living facilities’ transparency around pricing is indicative of their ethics, integrity and the sincerity of their work.
Sometimes, paying a bit more each month – and knowing that’s all you’ll have to pay – is well worth peace of mind.