We all want to live to 100 – but it’s not gonna be cheap! In fact, a new report from the Mature Market Institute shows that the average rent in an assisted-living facility is more expensive than a New York City apartment – in fact, it’s almost double that – at about $4,000 a month. That’s just for the room. And if you or your loved one needs actual hands-on care from a nurse - that costs extra.

Experts say one reason for the rising cost is that a growing number of care providers are bundling their services, much like cable companies bundle TV channels. So, even if you only need someone to help you bathe and get dressed, for example, you may still have to pay for a bundle of other services you’ll never use – like the option of having someone drive you to doctor’s appointments.

And don’t think you’re off the hook if you choose to skip the nursing homes, and get care in your own home. That’s because most insurance providers are either raising premiums for long-term assisted care, or cutting back on coverage. So, you’ll be paying for more care out of your own pocket!

But there are some strategies to help keep the cost of assisted care under control. Experts say it’s all about finding the right balance - between price, amenities, and service. So, how can we live to be 100 and save money?

  • Experts say it starts by knowing exactly which services you or your loved one will need, BEFORE you need them! One way to do that is to ask your doctor for help anticipating what kind of care you may need – whether it’s getting someone to drive you to the store, or help you get dressed. Why? Experts say the biggest mistake most families make is waiting until they need care before they start shopping around for it. But when you do that, you pay the highest prices, because providers know you’re desperate.

  • But if you plan ahead, then you have more leverage to HAGGLE! For starters, you can check around to find out which nursing homes have vacancies or waiting lists. Because it’s the ones with vacancies that are more likely to waive move-in fees, or discount certain wellness fees - like monthly blood pressure checks.

  • You’ll also have more time to compare prices for in-home health care. That’s where a nurse comes to you in your own home and charges by the hour. But experts say you can generally get discounts if you sign up for several hours of services at once. To compare in-home providers and their costs, go to Medicare.gov/HomeHealthCompare.

  • These days you can hire a “geriatric care manager,” who will help you review assisted-care contracts, and make sure there are no hidden fees. For a directory of geriatric-care managers, go to CareManager.org.

  • Experts say you can help your loved ones save money by helping them manage their own medication. In fact, patients report saving more than $300 a month using a website like e-Pill.com, instead of paying a nurse to tell them what meds they need to take, and when!