How to Pay for Assisted Living Costs

Financial resources to help pay for assisted living care costs

Woman helping an old lady to reduce her assisted living costs.
There are resources available to help pay for the cost of assisted living care. Chris Ryan

Many people who are in need of assisted living, nursing home care, or in-home care, put off looking for care for fear of how they will pay for it. Assisted living care costs can be expensive, but like most things in life, you can usually find less expensive options if you are willing to spend the time looking.

The total cost of assisted living care depends on the level of care needed, and the quality of the assisted living facility.

There may be resources you can find to help you pay for these costs. The resources available depend on the income and assets of the person in need. Your first option is to pay out of pocket. Let's start there so you can get an estimate of the cost of care.

Pay out of pocket

If you or your loved one needs in-home care, expect to pay about $20 - $25 per hour for someone to come to you and provide assistance. Rates will vary depending on the level of care needed, and the time of day you need assistance.

Assisted living facilities are available in a wide range of prices. Assisted living costs can vary from $1,500 a month to in excess of $10,000 a month depending on the level of care needed, location, and amenities offered. Best to set a list of criteria you'll use to search for quality care facilities. That list should include the amount you are able to budget.

Costs can vary tremendously from place to place.

As you start your search see if financial assistance is available through the resources listed below.

Check the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Program

Check eligibility for the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension, a program which can provide financial help to those who require assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature.

To qualify financially, an applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, excluding their home and vehicles. It can pay up to $1,632 per month to a veteran, $1,055 per month to a surviving spouse, or $1,949 per month to a couple for veterans and surviving spouses (as of 2011)

This program allows you to keep more assets than most state aid programs, and it provides a higher level of assistance. You cannot receive benefits from both the Veterans program and a state aid program, so you may want to evaluate both to determine which provides the highest level of assistance for you or your loved one.

Check with your state’s medicaid office

Find your state Medicaid office and find out what resources are available. To qualify for Medicaid you'll need to have assets and income that are below the federal poverty levels.

Many state programs offer assistance with assisted living costs for those who have no financial resources. Qualifying for such assistance usually means you have less than $2,000 in assets, although exact program requirements can vary from state-to-state.

Check other state aid programs at benefits.gov

Check other state aid programs outside of Medicaid. Such programs may supply food, shelter, medicine or other benefits.

Find non-profit resources for assisted living and elderly care

With a little digging around you may be able to find a non-profit organization that can help. If they can't help they may direct you to additional sources of assistance. Start with these two organizations:

  • Contact your local Area Agency for Aging. They can help you locate resources such as elder refugee or elder abuse programs, counseling, meals on wheels, volunteers who will visit, adult day care services, and much more.
  • Visit Eldercare.gov to find help in your local community, or call them at 800.677.1116. They will help refer to local resources such as home health services, transportation resources, senior housing options, respite care, find financial assistance if you are eligible for it, and much more.

Ask for family support

One home health company has created a free personalized way to stay in touch with those who need in-home care or assisted living through a feature they call CareTogether.

It functions like a customized form of Facebook designed just for a senior who needs care, allowing the family to stay updated on what their needs may be.

You could use a feature like this, or a Facebook page, to explain your or your loved one’s needs to extended family and then ask family members if they would be willing to contribute a small monthly amount to provide in-home or assisted living care for this family member.