A recent Boston Globe article, “Bracing for an influx, senior housing operators face rising costs and declining subsidies,” highlights the increasing problem with the availability of senior housing.  As the oldest baby boomers will soon be entering their 80s, demographers warn of the coming “silver tsunami.”  Accompanying the growing number of elders is an increased demand for independent living, assisted living and memory care facilities.

Government funding constraints and the volatile economics of housing construction are causing Brian Doherty, President of the Massachusetts Assisted Living Association in Waltham, concern about whether or not “the supply will be at the right places at the right time.”  Those elders who are fortunate enough to secure a bed in these facilities are often facing the additional economic stressor of paying for this care.

An increase in operating costs and decrease in federal subsidies means the monthly costs of assisted living facilities are quickly on the rise.  In an expensive region like the urban Northeast, a private-pay bed can cost over $10,000 a month.  Many elders are forced draw on substantial nest eggs, sell their homes or ask their adult children for assistance in order to make ends meet; for others, these price tags put assisted living facilities out of reach.

Beth Burnham Mace, Chief Economist for the nonprofit National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, is preparing a study to highlight the growing concern for what Mace calls “the forgotten middle:” middle-income older adults whose savings preclude them from qualifying for government support but are not large enough to allow for private-pay.

Although there is movement for affordable housing, securing a bed in these facilities is even more difficult.  Jo-Anne Dwyer, the Director of Housing at Rogerson, described the pandemonium when the Hong Lok House in Boston’s Chinatown began accepting applications for new units – noting they received 1,100 applications for 42 apartments.

This epidemic highlights the importance of planning for long-term care.  While estate planning is important for every adult, regardless of their age or financial profile, middle-income older adults should take special note to update their estate plans in order to maximize their assets and ensure they can age with comfort.  By consulting an elder law attorney prior to the need for assisted living or nursing home care, elders may be able to minimize the financial strains that are associated with rising senior housing costs.

If you have any questions related to this topic and how it may affect you, our Estate Planning Department may be able to help. To reach one of our Estate Planning attorneys please call our office at 617-951-3100.