What Is Luxury Senior Living?

The world of senior living is vast. With independent living, assisted living, memory care and others, there are many options to choose from.

Some communities add another qualifier: the term “luxury.” If you’re asking what makes a community luxury and how much it might cost, read on.

What Is Luxury Senior Living?

Luxury senior living communities, as the name suggests, emphasize high-end or highly specific amenities and features.

“Some are located near golf courses, so that appeals to a certain demographic, while some boast luxury amenities and others a close proximity to nature or cultural life that appeals to them. They really run the gamut,” says Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk, a geriatrician based in the San Francisco area.

Depending on the target age and care needs of the community’s residents, amenities and services may also include:

Activities that offer entertainment or educational value, such as lectures, arts and crafts sessions and movie nights

Fitness offerings, such as classes, a gym, a pool and tennis or pickleball courts

— Transportation assistance to doctor’s appointments, shopping centers, restaurants and other off-campus locations

These resort-like communities are not only comfortable and lively, but they can offer a sense of exclusivity, catering to wealthy seniors who have the kind of cash on hand to afford bespoke details. These extra touches can include private patios or balconies, high-end kitchen appliances and in-unit laundry machines, hair and nail salons and several restaurants and other dining options.

Other services at such high-end communities may include:

— Housekeeping and laundry services

— Grocery delivery

— Spa treatments

— A 24-hour concierge

— Pet care assistance

— An on-site movie theater

— Well-manicured grounds and landscaping

— Home health services

While many senior living options offer similar amenities, the distinction for a luxury community comes in the quality or specificity of these options. Offering a special amenity that an individual really loves that they can’t find elsewhere can help communities justify a higher price point (more on that below).

[READ: What Is Assisted Living: Services, Levels of Care and Costs]

What Are the Care Levels in Luxury Senior Living?

As with other types of senior living, luxury options range from hands-off independent living arrangements to intensive round-the-clock skilled nursing care. Typical options are:

Independent living. Also sometimes called retirement living or active adult communities, these communities are usually structured as single homes in a neighborhood or apartments or townhouses in a larger building or development. Independent living communities often have an age requirement — residents must be 55 years or older to buy in, for example. They provide opportunities for social connection, activities and other support for older adults to live independently within a community of their peers.

Assisted living. This type of senior living option provides more support, with a focus on the activities of daily living: dressing, toileting, bathing, hygiene and eating. In a luxury setting, these communities will offer additional support and amenities that may not be on offer at lower-priced communities. These communities provide on-site assistance 24 hours per day, which is something that independent living communities usually do not offer.

Continuing care retirement community. Also called CCRCs, these tiered communities encompass all the various levels of care available and are intended to serve as a one-stop-shop for senior living needs. Residents can graduate from one level of care to the next as needed without having to pack up and move to a new community. This approach provides stability and continuity of social connection and care that can be especially valuable as a senior’s health needs evolve.

Memory care communities. For older adults who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, a luxury memory care community may be a great option for supporting their intensive care needs.

Nursing homes. Also sometimes called skilled nursing facilities, these communities provide the highest level of health care services to older adults who need round-the-clock care. These communities may also offer rehabilitation services — such as physical, occupational or speech therapy — with a full-time nurse on site. Some facilities also have a doctor on site most or all of the time to assist with health issues that may arise.

[READ: What Is Memory Care and How Much Does It Cost?]

How Much Does Luxury Senior Living Cost?

Luxury senior living options can be expensive, and prices can vary based on geographic location, amenities and services offered and the level of care provided.

Despite this, the market is growing.

“The luxury market has kind of exploded — partially as a result of nursing homes being so costly,” says Nancy Avitabile, owner of Urban Eldercare, a geriatric care management practice in New York City.

In the metro New York region where she’s based, Avitabile says nursing home care can tally upward of $20,000 per month with private pay. By comparison, many luxurious assisted living options also run between $17,000 and $20,000 a month.

Noting the dual pressures of inflation and staffing shortages, Genworth Financial’s 2023 Cost of Care Survey reported that from 2021 to 2023, the cost of care across the board in the senior care market increased an average of about 19%.

According to a 2024 analysis from SeniorLiving.org, luxury senior living options cost, on average, 30% more than their conventional counterparts. Their figures note that the estimated national average monthly rate for luxury senior living is:

— $3,900 for independent living

— $7,164 for assisted living

— $11,608 for a semi-private nursing home room

— $13,033 for a private nursing home room

Luxury senior living options in the most expensive markets, such as New York City, can cost considerably more per month. It’s important to do your research and be sure you understand how fees are structured and what your financial responsibilities will be before agreeing to any senior living contract.

It’s also important to note that senior living options — whether they’re listed as luxury or affordable — are not covered by Medicare. And because Medicaid is designed for low-income individuals, it won’t apply in a luxury situation.

[READ When to Move From Assisted Living to Memory Care]

Who Is Luxury Senior Living For?

Given the high cost of luxury senior living, older adults who have built a large nest egg for retirement or those with generous long-term care insurance policies are the most likely candidates to take advantage of this expanding market.

Before making a commitment, however, you should consider your future plans and health expectations.

“It’s easy to be tempted to live beyond your needs in order to live in a highly desirable community, especially if you have friends and family living there,” Landsverk says. “It’s important to stay within your means and not take risks that might prove problematic in the future.”

Over time, your need for care will increase, as will the cost of that care. For some people, running out of money can become a real concern that limits their lifestyle.

To help you find the best senior living option for you, use U.S. News’ new Senior Living search tool.

More from U.S. News

Assisted Living Communities: Types of Rooms

Nursing Home Alternatives to Consider

Pros and Cons of Assisted Living

What Is Luxury Senior Living? originally appeared on usnews.com

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