For many Americans, cost is a big factor when considering whether to move into an assisted living community. Many fear it’s too expensive. Others are unaware of their options for financing the monthly rent.

In Florida, the average monthly cost of assisted living is $3,500, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, about $500 less than the national median cost of $4,000.

At first glance, that may seem like a high number. But when you consider that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Florida is $773 and that assisted living fees also typically cover meals, utilities, maintenance, housekeeping and transportation — not to mention medical assistance, excursions and on-site activities — it can actually be an incredibly good value.

Then there are the emotional benefits of life at an assisted living community.

“The thing that is really most attractive to future residents is getting together with other residents, playing cards, having something to do each day and meeting new people,” said Gail G. Matillo, MPA, president and CEO of the Florida Senior Living Association. “Living alone can be very isolating.”

Financing Your Florida Assisted Living

When it comes to financing assisted living in Florida, you have options. Most seniors use a combination of personal savings and the following resources.

Home Equity

As long as house prices continue to rise, seniors’ home equity will rise, said Matillo. “That can be a huge help to those who want to move into assisted living,” she said.

Social Security

Many assisted living communities in Florida will accept your Social Security payments and apply them directly to your monthly rent, said Matillo. This saves a lot of hassle for residents by streamlining the payment process.

Medicaid

Many seniors are surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living, said Matillo.

But if you qualify for government assistance, Medicaid may cover some of your assisted living costs.

Most states use 1915c Medicaid HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) Waivers to cover the costs of assisted living, according to PayingforSeniorCare.com. However, Florida has eliminated this program and now covers assisted living through the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care option.

Unfortunately, not all Florida assisted living communities accept Medicaid, and the waiting list at those that do is often long, said Matillo. It’s also important to note that Medicaid may not cover all of your costs.

Family Support & Caregiver Tax Deductible

Many Florida assisted living communities allow family members to pay over the phone or internet via credit card for care and ancillary services like bathing or grooming, said Matillo. This helps to offset the cost of assisted living care.

Furthermore, if you are supplementing your loved one’s care, a caregiver may be able to deduct these expenses on their annual taxes.

Long-Term Care Insurance

This is a relatively new product that offers the best value for Floridians in their 40s and 50s, said Matillo. It may be too cost prohibitive for people in their 70s and 80s, she said.

It’s also worth noting that some long-term care applicants may be turned down due to pre-existing conditions, according to the AARP.

The Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension

Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension may also be eligible for this program, which increases one’s monthly payout to cover long-term care costs, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

This traditionally covers half the cost of the board and care, said Matillo.

Life Insurance

Some life insurance policies allow policy-holders to receive a tax-free advance on their death benefit, which can be used to fund assisted living costs, according to LongTermCare.gov. This could be a good option for seniors who don’t have children, said Matillo.

It’s best to start by understanding all of the different senior living options in Florida. Then see if assisted living is right for you.

Once you identify your needs, Matillo recommends working with an elder care attorney to determine what you can afford.

When comparing your options, she also suggested asking each community what’s included in the monthly rent, since amenities and meals are usually bundled into the cost.

The price of assisted living in Florida can vary from county to county, she said, with rural areas offering more affordable fees than urban city centers.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s independent and assisted living communities, schedule a visit →

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