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Financial Planning for Retirement April 8, 2023

Getting Started with Financial Planning for Assisted Living

Everything costs more these days, requiring all of us to account for every penny. If you or a loved one is considering senior care, financial planning for assisted living should not be overlooked.

When beginning to plan for assisted living, whether in a private home or at a senior living community, there are several things to keep in mind.

In-home care costs vs. senior living community costs

Senior care is expensive, but often people are surprised to learn it carries the same expenses as staying in one’s home. When doing financial planning for assisted living, it is important to understand the monthly expenses to carry a private home versus living in a care community where individuals receive care, meals and companionship.

When adding up expenses, many families are surprised to learn what their daily, monthly and yearly expenses actually cost. When evaluating costs for mortgage, housekeeping, lawn service, handymen, meals, entertainment, gas to go to appointments, utilities, cable, internet, security systems, HOA fees, property taxes and other home-related costs, the total costs often are comparable to monthly rates at a senior living community. This tool has been helpful for many people when conducting financial planning for assisted living.

Types of senior living communities

When starting financial planning for assisted living, industry terminology may seem like learning a new language. There are several new terms to learn and understand.

There are several different types of senior living communities, and the two most common options are rental and buy-in senior living communities.


Most people find all-rental communities such as Country Meadows to be the most economical. As the name implies, residents pay a monthly rent that includes the apartment, care services, meals, entertainment, housekeeping, utilities and other amenities. Rental communities don’t require a large, upfront buy-in or entrance fee. There may be a security deposit that may be refundable.

If a senior conducting financial planning for assisted living requires a lower monthly rate, most all-rental retirement communities offer a range of lifestyle and apartment options such as fewer personal services or smaller living accommodations. It is important to note that if higher levels of care such as memory care or skilled nursing are necessary, those services carry a larger monthly cost.

Many seniors state that financial planning for assisted living is easier when residing at an all-rental community as most offer a comprehensive rate in just one bill. This offers less hassle, allowing residents to pay just one monthly invoice. And if a senior opts to leave the retirement community, one needs just provide notice of the planned move-out date. Unlike a buy-in community, you won’t pay upfront for future care; you’ll only pay for what you need and use.

Buy-in or CCRC

The second most common type of senior community you will research is a buy-in facility, also known as a life plan community or Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

A buy-in option is more expensive upfront, requiring, as the name states, a large fee upon move-in. Care is provided at the location, eliminating the need to move to different locations to transition to higher levels of care.

Financial planning for assisted living at a buy-in community may be confusing to calculate cost. The most comprehensive contract, Type A or Life Care, typically provides care at any level with no or minimal increases in the monthly fee, after a large entrance fee is paid.

There also are other contracts available in this level of care, offering a variety of benefits and amenities, depending on the chosen contract. Financial planning for assisted living may be challenging to tackle every month as certain services are provided while others may be limited to a pre-designated number of days each month.

Some older adults and their families select this option based on the promise that whatever the future holds, care will be provided on the same campus, reducing the need to relocate during times of stress.

An attractive feature of the buy-in community is that most entry fees are partially or fully refundable to the estate depending on the chosen contract and how long an individual resides on campus.

Questions to ask about financial planning for assisted living

When doing financial planning for assisted living, there are questions you should consider asking retirement communities and at-home service providers.

  • What levels of care do you offer, and what are the costs for each?
  • What services and amenities are covered by the required fees? What costs are extra and how are they billed?
  • Do you require a large buy-in fee? What does that cover?

Country Meadows has a team of experts at each campus location prepared to answer any questions you may have when planning for assisted living or another level of care. Our nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus location in Frederick, Maryland offer a wide range of services to serve a variety of resident needs. If you or a loved one are beginning the retirement planning journey and would like more information about our communities, please contact us today. We’re here to help.

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