Sunday, April 14

Extra Fees Drive Assisted Living Profits

Florence Reiners, 94, adores living at the Waters of Excelsior, an upscale assisted-living facility in the Minneapolis suburb of Excelsior. The 115-unit building has a theater, a library, a hair salon and a spacious dining room.

“The windows, the brightness and the people overall are very cheerful and very friendly,” Mrs. Reiners, a retired nursing assistant, said. Most important, she was just a floor away from her husband, Donald, 95, a retired water department worker who served in the military after World War II and has severe dementia.

She resisted her children’s pleas to move him to a less expensive facility available to veterans.

Mrs. Reiners is healthy enough to be on a floor for people who can live independently, so her rent is $3,330 plus $275 for a pendant alarm. When she needs help, she’s billed an exact amount, like a $26.67 charge for the 31 minutes an aide spent helping her to the bathroom one night.

Her husband’s specialty care at the facility cost much more, at $6,150 a month on top of $3,825 in rent.

Month by month, their savings, mainly from the sale of their home, and monthly retirement income of $6,600 from Social Security and his municipal pension, dwindled. In three years, their assets and savings dropped to about $300,000 from around $550,000.