The cost of senior care keeps rising year by year, but many senior living costs can be significantly lessened if you do your homework ahead of time.

Facts About the Cost of Senior Care

Though Medicare and Medicaid cover the largest proportion of senior care expenses, the amount Americans pay out of pocket for dementia and Alzheimer’s care is still staggering. In 2011, seniors and families paid a total of $36 billion on institutional care, including nursing facilities, and another $3 billion on community-based care, including adult day care, home care, and other facilities, reports the Congressional Budget Office. According to the 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs, nursing care cost over $90,000 annually; assisted living cost over $42,000, and home health aide services cost about $21,000.

The numbers are daunting, but don’t let them scare you away. An accurate calculation of the cost of senior care will include supplements like Medicare, Medicaid, and VA benefits. Moreover, there are a number of ways caregivers can cut senior care costs, from medical-expense tax deductions to pricing incentives.

Tips to Choose the Right Memory Care Facility and Help You Avoid Making Mistake in The Placement

1. Get help from a knowledgeable advisor.

Whether it’s someone you know who has looked for senior care before, or a professional advisor like those at A Place for Mom, getting advice from someone with recent experience in looking for dementia care can be invaluable, especially if they’re familiar with the various options in your area and can explain them to you. A financial advisor can also be a great help in planning ahead for the cost of senior care.

2. Understand the cost of different levels of care and housing options.

Know the difference between Assisted Living, Rest Home and Nursing Home care.

3. Understand what is included in the monthly price of a facility.

Compare costs from different communities and what is included in the monthly price for each one. “The amenities are different with each one, so understand what you get for that monthly rate,” Rick says. Some may include amenities like meals, weekly housekeeping, and laundry services while other facilities charge extra for services like these. Be sure to ask about the base rate and what it includes, and what the costs are for different levels of service.

Try to look for an all inclusive care option if available in your area.

4. Find out whether there are additional fees, and what they are.

Many communities charge a deposit, an entrance fee, or a community fee. This is a one-time fee that varies according to the market and is usually non-refundable. Make sure you read the small print and understand what these fees are and whether or not they are refundable.

5. Ask about pricing incentives, move-in specials, and other financial enticements.

“You should always ask if there are incentives or specials.  “There are different incentives that marketing directors offer, and a lot of them aren’t advertised.” For instance, they may waive the entrance fee or community fee, offer a month’s rent for free, or pay for moving or downsize costs. The facility with best reputation might not offer those move-in specials, but it always worth to ask.

6. Plan ahead and do your research on specific facilities.

Don’t wait until you’re desperate and have limited options. Compare facilities, and get on waiting lists if they are available. Read online reviews and talk to as many people as possible. Another great option: “Try it before you buy it—ask to do a trial stay in a community,” Rick recommends. “Talk to residents and staff during the visit to see what they’re like. You can learn a lot about the community that way.”

7. Find out what will happen when all private fund are depleted, and mom or dad had to switch to medicaid

Will the facility allow your loved one to stay at current location with the current care plan, or you will ask to leave? Some facility offer very limited number of Medicaid beds, which most likely will not be available when you will need them. Ask the community to be very specific in regard to under what condition (money and or level of care) your loved one will not be able to stay at the facility.