It's becoming more expensive for older folks to move into senior housing - especially in Philadelphia, which a new survey ranks among the Top 10 most expensive metro areas in the nation for senior living.
For example, the median cost for assisted living in the Philadelphia region was $4,663 a month in 2015, ranking the area below Washington, New York, Boston, and Minneapolis but above San Francisco, according to the survey conducted by A Place for Mom. For memory care, the median cost here was $5,979 a month.
A Place for Mom, a senior-living referral service, released the April survey and a new National Senior Living Cost Index across three senior-living categories: assisted living, independent living, and memory care. (See www.aplaceformom.com/senior-living-cost-planner.)
Philadelphia is only keeping up with the elder Joneses. Nationally, seniors on average paid $99 more a month, or $1,200 a year, toward senior-living expenses in 2015 compared with 2014, the survey found. Senior-living expenses are outpacing core inflation across all regions of the country, increasing about 1.5 times faster.
There is some good news, however: Although the average cost of senior living is on the rise (up 2.7 percent year over year), that's well below national housing-market prices (up 7 percent year over year). And states in the northeastern U.S. experienced the lowest percentage growth (2.1 percent) for senior living costs from 2014 to 2015.
Senior living costs vary within metro areas, as well. Locally, for example, median monthly independent-living costs in Moorestown totaled $3,413 in 2015, while they were $2,541 in Bristol. The median for the region overall totaled $2,985.
Independent-living costs were defined as rent, meals and other recurring monthly charges, but not any care costs. Assisted living and memory care included a resident's assisted daily living costs plus medical care.
The Senior Living Cost Index and survey were based on actual rent and care charges collected from a sample of A Place for Mom move-ins - nearly 100,000 were used in the analysis - between 2012 and 2015.
National and regional median costs and growth estimates were based on communities with at least one move-in for a given care type two years in a row. The index reports the median cost and year-over-year changes across communities based on their annual median move-in charges for each care type. City, metro and state estimates were based on inflation-
adjusted move-in charges in 2014 and 2015.
"Senior living costs are rising faster than inflation because they often include health care," said Barbara Kleger of Kleger Associates, a Center City firm that researches the retirement-housing industry.
Seniors also are waiting longer to move: The number of Americans 84 years of age or older who moved into senior housing increased by 3 percent between 2013 and 2015, the survey found.
"With 40 million people aged over 65 living in the U.S., representing nearly 15 percent of the population, most of the families we work with do not understand the true cost of senior living or the types of care available," said Charlie Severn, vice president of brand marketing at A Place for Mom.
Matthew Harris, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Tennessee, developed the National Senior Living Cost Index in partnership with A Place for Mom.
The index tracks data collected in four primary regions, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
"We see the clearest acceleration in independent living, which has picked up because of the recovery since the housing crash," Severn said. "More people can now fund a move into senior living by selling their houses.
"We also see a flat trend for memory care, because the urgency of memory care keeps demand for it steady."