The general public may think the cost of health care—and, by extension, the cost of senior living—is rapidly increasing, but that’s not true.
In fact, senior living costs are rising at a slower rate than health insurance premiums, hospital service costs and recent home sale prices, according to the 2017 National Senior Living Cost Index from Seattle-based senior living referral service A Place for Mom.
The firm’s annual Senior Living Cost Index is based on actual rent and care costs gathered from referred move-ins to A Place for Mom community partners. The Senior Living Cost Index remains “the only index of its kind that measures what [senior living] consumers actually pay,” Charlie Severn, vice president of brand marketing at A Place for Mom, told Senior Housing News.
The cost of assisted living rose 2.9% in 2016, while the cost of memory care rose 2.3%, the data revealed. In other words, the rent increased approximately $110 per month for both care levels in 2016.
In 2015, the cost of assisted living rose 2.4% and the cost of memory care rose 3%, according to last year’s Senior Living Cost Index.
The median cost of assisted living and memory care in the U.S. in 2016 was $3,740 per month and $4,664 per month, respectively. New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., were the top-three most expensive metros for assisted living and memory care last year, the data reveal, while Tampa, Miami and Detroit were the top-three least expensive.
The cost of real estate is increasing more than the cost of health care, the data showed.
Independent living—where residents are charged only for rent—experienced faster cost growth than assisted living and memory care, where residents are charged for both rent and care, for instance.
Senior living consumers, as well as the general public, should be more aware of the realities of health care costs, Severn argued.
“There’s a perception in the marketplace that health care costs are rising rapidly, but they’re not,” Severn explained.
Ideal senior living location
Additionally, A Place for Mom polled about 1,000 senior-living consumers to learn which attributes of senior living communities and neighborhoods would exert the most influence over a decision to move into senior living.
For senior living consumers, the most important neighborhood characteristics included low crime rates, proximity to family and proximity to hospitals, the survey found. Most senior living consumers would also prefer to live in more walkable neighborhoods with good access to public transportation.
All the while, the affordability and quality of the senior living community were more important to consumers than the neighborhood in which the community was located.
A Place for Mom plans to release the complete results of this study, including how consumer preferences vary by consumer segment and type of care, in June.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson