Assisted Living More Expensive than Living on a Cruise Ship

Cheaper to Retire on a Cruise Ship vs. Live in Asssisted Living

A recent USA Today article found that it would be cheaper for seniors to live full-time on a cruise ship versus pay to live an Assisted Living Facility. Sounds crazy right? Well, the investigation proves that skyrocketing cost of assisted living is a growing problem for America’s aging baby boomers.

Costs of Living in Assisted Living vs. Cost of Living on a Cruise Ship

The average cost to live in an assisted living facility, without any additional care needs, is approximately $42,000 a year.

The average cost to live on a cruise ship, including senior discounts, is approximately $37,000 a year.

Both options provide included food preparation, housekeeping and supervision by staff. Arguably, the food and entertainment will be better on the cruise ship than the ALF. So long as doctor visits can be strategically scheduled when the ship is in port, seniors without significant medical needs can easily opt out of assisted living and instead, live on a cruise ship. Not only does this make financial sense, but it will improve the senior’s quality of life. Year-round residents of cruise ships report much higher satisfaction levels when compared to ALF residents.

The Hidden Costs of Residing in an Assisted Living Facility

Why is Assisted Living so Expensive?!

Chances are, your insurer will pay a portion of your ALF bill. This allows facilities to charge high room and board fees and split the bill among multiple payers. Additionally, most assisted living facilities have different levels of care for residents. A completely independent resident may be a ‘Level 1’ and only require meals and housekeeping. A higher acuity resident may be a ‘Level 3’ who requires assistance to prevent facility falls and medication mistakes.

In our experience as assisted living facility negligence lawyers, we have discovered that facilities make 3-5 times the reimbursement on Level 3 residents when compared to Level 1 residents. So if a facility only has 100 beds, management is strongly encouraged to raise the level of care for each resident to increase profits. Usually, management’s bonus and incentives are directly tied to facility profitability. In a 100 bed A.L.F., 100 Level 1 residents may bring in $30,000/night while 100 Level 3 residents can bring in $150,000/night.

Is Cruise Ship Living Possible for Seniors Headed into an Assisted Living Facility?

The ultimate determination is the senior’s health status. Do they just need some help with meals, cleaning and socialization? If so, the cruise ship option is likely better than an ALF.  If the person takes multiple medications, is at risk for falls, has dementia or some other underlying condition, it is probably safer to have him/her inside a licensed assisted living facility. This is a decision you need to make in conjunction with your doctor.

Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility for Seniors in Need of Extra Care

High risk patients are simply not candidates for cruise ship living. As a result, an assisted living facility may be the only option. When searching for facilities, visit each one and get to know the staff. Read their reviews online and search your state’s department of health to see how the facility did with past inspections. You can always take week-long cruises as needed.


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