Assisted Living Communities: What Do You Get for Your Money in the Triangle?
If you’ve done any research on assisted living communities in the Triangle area—Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, or maybe even Burlington, Cary or Johnston County—you may have been stopped in your tracks by the fees. They’re probably a lot more than what you’re paying for your mortgage!
But what you have to remember is that those seemingly staggering prices are paying for much more than just your housing. They’re also covering all of your utilities, many services (including your care), and plenty of amenities. In fact, after you pay your “rent” each month, you’ll generally have to buy little else.
What do they cost?
A 2013 study, “The Cost of Long Term Care” by Genworth Financial, showed the median monthly cost for assisted living communities in the Triangle and surrounding areas—Johnston County, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill areas—to be $3,500 per month (for a one-bedroom unit). The median cost of assisted living in Cary was a little higher at around $3,800 per month, with Burlington at about $1,800 per month. A short survey of some of our advertisers in the area showed costs along the lines of $4,500 to $5,300 per month.
In addition to housing, here’s what you get for those dollars. Most, if not all, communities cover utilities, transportation, three meals a day, housekeeping, emergency response and personal care (help with bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.) within that cost. Some may also provide laundry and cable for free. Depending on the community, they may monitor all of your medications as part of the package or charge you for over a certain number.
While onsite activities such as movie nights and musical performances are included in the monthly fees, you’ll probably pay out-of-pocket for group dinners in town or a trip to the N.C. Museum of Art or a UNC or N.C. State basketball game. Generally services like having your nails done or your hair cut within the community are also extra charges.
What are the variables?
The cost of these communities can range up or down based on many factors, such as the size and floor plan of your unit, the level of the building the unit is on, and your level of care (in the Triangle area, each additional level of care costs an average of $381). If you find that a facility does not base cost on level of care, you won’t incur a price increase as your health needs change; however, you may pay a bit of a premium as a result. An extra person sharing your unit, whether it’s a spouse or a friend, will also raise the cost (but you’ll be splitting it!).
Costs of these communities can also vary depending on offerings such as in-house therapists and well-equipped fitness centers, the part of town where they’re located and even how nice the décor is.
You can’t judge a community based on its cost alone. It’s important that you spend some time there, talk to residents, have a meal, meet the staff. Feeling safe and at home is a feature that you can’t put a price tag on!
*According to 2013 “The Cost of Long Term Care” study by Genworth Financial.