The Importance of Assistance Living Facilities
The purpose of Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) is to support members of the elderly or otherwise disabled population who cannot otherwise take care of themselves. Specifically, ALFs strive to ensure that elderly citizens remain capable of coping with the skyrocketing cost of living as well as that of medical care without having to sacrifice the assistance that they need. Just as with any component of daily life, accessibility to, and inherent costs of, such facilities vary greatly from one state to another. As such, the most expensive U.S. states for assisted living facilities are generally the same states with the high costs of living, tax rates, and medical care in general.
What Determines an Area’s Need for ALFs?
Although it is not illogical to argue that the distribution and expenditure of the ALFs in each state ought to be proportional to the relative incomes earned within each of the various states, that rationale does not hold water in the context of real world ALF access. Instead, the need for the ALFs in various states, often dictated by retiree population and age demographics, is what drives the distribution and costs of such facilities. Even states with some of the lowest populations in the country may need more of these facilities if they attract retirees or have high costs of living or limited access to essential resources.
Coping with High Costs of Living
As we analyze living costs, we see a number of items whose respective prices closely mirror the costs of living in a state as a whole. At the helm of that list are basic commodities, like food items and fuel. That explains why Hawaii and Alaska has such an extremely high cost of living. For instance, these two states top the list of states with, at the time of this article, the highest retail prices of gasoline nationwide at $3.71 and $3.63 per gallon, respectively. This means there is a marginal difference of over 70 cents per gallon in these places when compared to the price of gasoline in Wyoming. This is barely affordable to the fully employed, let alone the poor retirees and older citizens that ALFs aim to protect.
Another determinant factor is local tax rates, which dig into the finances of the young and the elderly alike. Since such peoples’ incomes are limited, high property tax rates are concerning for both the elderly living at home and ALFs themselves. New Jersey, for instance, has a particularly high property tax rate. Consequently, the prices of homes and apartments in that state are elevated. In fact, New Jersey real estate and rent prices are currently more than 50% above the national average.
Are the Elderly Soft Targets for Criminals?
In states with high crime rates, elderly residents may be particularly vulnerable to theft, and therefore in greater need of ALF access. In fact, local crime rates are actually one of the most significant factors considered by investors and government agencies when allocating funds to ALFs. Alaska, for example, ranks fifth among the states with the highest rates of property and violent crimes, and estimates place the incidence of rape in the state at three times the national average. As such, security and insurance costs for Assisted Living Facilities there may be much higher than in places with lower rates of such crimes.
Acting on the Need At Hand
As we have demonstrated, the distribution and costs of ALFs in different states within the U.S. vary greatly, and are relative to the unique needs such facilities have due to their location and its demography. The expenditure of such ALFs is typically proportional to crime rates, costs of living, and medical expenses. In the end, the less suitable an area is for elderly residents to live on their own and provide for themselves, the more governments will need to expend on its ALFs.