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By Herb Weiss, contributing writer
A report released TODAY by PayingforSeniorCare.com finds that inflation of goods and services has severely impacted seniors, but inflation of senior living is much softer by comparison.
The two-part report shares findings based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 55+, and data showing the best and worst states for senior living inflation in the United States. Researchers say that this aims to both highlight seniors’ inflation concerns, and provide informational resources for those who need financial assistance.
According to the survey findings, 4 in 10 seniors worry that they won’t be able to afford food and groceries in the future due to inflation, and 1 in 5 say that inflation has caused their grocery bill to increase by more than $250 per month. Overall, 1 in 4 seniors say that they’ve had to make drastic changes to their lifestyle to cope with inflation. For example, more than 1 in 10 seniors say they’ve had to skip meals or by delaying needed medical procedures to save money.
However, researchers say that inflation for senior living is not as extreme. According to data from Caring.com, the nation’s leading senior living referral services, senior living in the U.S. has not experienced the inflation that other sectors of the economy have. Average assisted living costs have only increased 3.7 percent since 2019, while the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of consumer goods and services, has risen by 15.6 percent during the same time period.
“Some may find it surprising to know that since 2019, average inflation for the cost of senior living in the U.S. is less than 1/4th the cost of general inflation (3.7% vs. 15.6%). Many don’t also realize that many of the essential expenses rising in cost — food, energy, gas — are included in the rate of a senior living community,” says Han Hwang, Caring.com’s EVP of Partnerships.
“While inflation remains a serious concern for seniors and the population in general, relatively low occupancy rates in senior living communities driven by COVID-19 has largely kept inflation at bay,” notes Hwang, “However, we are hearing from operators that rates will continue to increase over time – those prices just haven’t caught up yet with inflation in general,” he says.
Hwang adds: “For those not yet living in senior living, the report’s insights on the alarmingly high number of seniors skipping meals, medicines and medical procedures due to inflationary pressures should be concerning to everyone. These are essentials for seniors’ well-being, and shouldn’t be skipped. We hope this report will help direct seniors and their families to support resources as soon as possible.
This report finds that not all states have enjoyed the same low inflation of senior living. Several, including North Dakota and Hawaii, have inflation rates of over 20% since 2019 – significantly outpacing the 15.6% inflation rate of the CPI.
Over age 65 seniors comprise 17.7% of Rhode Island’s population. This percentage is expected to grow to 25% by 2030. From the Paying for Senior Care report: Rhode Island is ranked 7th in this study for states with lowest inflation rates for senior living. Rhode Island is among the states that saw a decrease in the average cost of assisted living since 2019, averaging $108 less per month and $1,301 annually in rent and care costs for assisted living.
This report is made up of two parts: an online survey conducted in October of 2022 of 1,000 U.S. seniors, and data and analysis based on the cost of senior living between 2019 and 2022 according to data provided by Caring.com.
For those who need specific help and guidance on coping with the cost of inflation, PayingForSeniorCare.com offers a free service – Senior Care Experts who can guide seniors or their loved ones through the decision making process, and provide personalized advice based on their budget and care needs. This service is available by calling (855) 481-6777.
For a copy of this report, go to www.payingforseniorcare.com/2022-inflation-and-seniors-impact-report.
Herb Weiss, LRI’12, a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase his books, Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, and a sequel, go to herbweiss.com.