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Additional Fees Generate Assisted Living Profits

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

“The windows, the light and the people in general are very cheerful and very friendly,” said Ms. Reiners, a retired nursing assistant. More importantly, she was just one floor away from her husband, Donald, 95, a water utility retiree who served in the Army after World War II and suffers from severe dementia.

She resisted her children’s demands to transfer him to a less expensive facility for veterans only.

Ms. Reiners is healthy enough to live on a floor designated for people who can live independently. His rent is therefore $3,330 plus $275 for a pending alarm. When she needs help, she is charged a specific amount, such as a $26.67 fee for the 31 minutes an aide spent helping her go to the bathroom one night.

Her husband’s specialized care at that facility costs much more, at $6,150 a month, on top of $3,825 in rent.

Month after month, their savings, mostly from the sale of their home, and the $6,600 monthly retirement income from Social Security and her city pension, dwindled. In three years, their assets and savings went from about $550,000 to about $300,000.

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