Assisted Living Versus Some Creative Alternatives

I know so many people who as fellow-fifty-somethings are all focusing on the same thing: Where are the parents going to live, how are they going to stay safe, and what if they need more help than they can get living in their own homes?

A few interesting alternatives to the assisted living route were explored in a story published in the WSJ over the weekend by Kelly Greene. She compared the cost of assisted living, $9500 per month, with options like living on a cruise ship for $2651 a month, or in a Costa Rican house for $4800, or the pricey deluxe Canyon Ranch condos in Florida for $8500 a month. All much less than the traditional route. But what do you get?

In 2010, an estimated 733,200 Americans lived in an assisted living facility. But this cost, coupled with the additional services many people need, can go a lot higher than $9500 a month. One man rented a house in Costa Rica for $3500 a month that his ailing dad shared with two other patients. The price, steep for this very cheap to live in country, included a supervising nurse, three aides, a care coordinator and a driver. Bob Preston said that even including the cost of airfare to visit his dad it was much less than a US facility.

Other couples have found that retirement on the water suits them well. One man, Ralph Ponce de Leon, spends one third of every year aboard a Carnival Holland America ship, where there are 24 hour a day doctors, nurses and many other passengers who are pushing 90.

Lastly the Spa alternative shows how the condo market has changed. It’s hard to sell straight up condos, but now Canyon Ranch is marketing their units in Florida as a vacation home where you live full time. With wellness teams and plenty of nurses aides, it works for many people and is still cheaper than assisted living.