Although basic amenities are included at no additional cost in senior living communities, extras such as housekeeping services, the provision of local transportation, 24-hour emergency call systems and scheduled recreational activities usually mean higher monthly rents. Standard no-fee amenities typically include walk-in showers with safety features, common areas equipped with televisions, computer stations, wireless Internet and laundry facilities. Other basic amenities include elevators, extra storage and garages or covered parking.
Work-out rooms, swimming pools and hot tubs, and apartment patios or decks are also available in some senior living communities. The availability of these amenities, and features such as fireplaces, dens and extra bedrooms, typically come with higher monthly apartment rents.
Senior living communities that provide various levels of assisted living and/or memory care are the most costly, according to a 2014 study conducted by A Place for Mom, a senior living referral service. Older adults in assisted living facilities paid 51 percent more than those in independent living senior communities. Seniors living in memory care paid an additional 27 percent. These higher costs reflect additional services such as physical therapy, medication management and other health care-related amenities provided in these particular senior living communities. The study also reports that between 2011 and 2014, the cost of independent living grew faster, at a rate of 8.3 percent, than inflation, which increased by 5 percent over the same period.
Senior living communities are age-restricted under the Housing for Older Americans Act, which requires that at least 80 percent of the units within a senior community have at least one resident age 55 or older. The housing act provides exceptions to the age restriction for disabled adults.