The thought of planning for the next phase of your life can be a daunting one, but the longer you wait the more difficult it may be to make the right decision. Many seniors wait until a major life health event happens such as a stroke, heart attack, or the onset of a major degenerative disease such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s to decide their plan. Waiting until the last minute to decide what’s next may very well result in finding out that where you thought you may go is full and working on a wait list that could have hundreds of members and a wait that could take years to even have a residence become available for you. Every day until 2030 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65[i] and 7 out of 10 of those will require long-term care at some point in their lives[ii]. There are many options for seniors when it comes to putting a plan in place for the future and the research, this guide will help you learn the basics of some of the most popular options available and help you decide what the best option for you is.
- Active Adult Community: This type of community is designed with middle-aged adults, usually 55 and over in mind. Active Adult communities can include single-family homes or duplexes or condominium apartments and can be available to purchase or rent monthly. The residents of an active adult community want to live independently but still have access to resort-style amenities, community programs, and convenient services. Amenities may include swimming pools, golf courses, pickle-ball courts, bocce and more, most also include landscaping, lawn care, and street maintenance. The amenities offered at each community may be reflected in HOA fees or in the monthly rent. Active adult communities do not provide assisted living or healthcare services of any kind as part of your monthly HOA fee, and there are no on-site healthcare facilities. It is of course an option to arrange for in-home care when needed. Home prices in an active adult community will most likely reflect the local housing and real estate market.
- Assisted Living: Assisted living communities are for people who need help with daily care, but not as much help as a nursing home provides. Assisted living facilities range in size from as few as 25 residents to 120 or more. Typically, multiple “levels of care” are offered, with residents paying more for higher levels of care. Many communities have limited floor plan options, they are often designed for one resident offering only studio-style apartments equipped with a microwave, small refrigerator, and sink. Frequently any additional help outside of the scope of medical care is available at an additional fee, this could include but is not limited to personal laundry services, having a companion accompanying a resident to any type of medical appointment, personal shoppers, and more. Genworth Insurance Cost of Care Survey estimates the national monthly average in 2021 was $4,500.00.
- Memory Care: Memory care areas are found in many assisted living communities or sometimes as a standalone community. In either case, memory care is designed for someone diagnosed with a cognitive disorder such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s Disease, among others. They are secured areas or communities that provide a safer environment for their residents. They provide many of the same services as an assisted living community. In many communities, the staff is trained to care for residents with cognitive disorders.
- Skilled Nursing Facility or “Nursing Home”: Nursing Homes provide a higher level of medical care for residents than assisted living communities. They are for residents who do not need hospital care but cannot be cared for at home. Many Nursing homes provide private and shared room options and often resemble a hospital room. Along with nursing care, there is often physical, speech, and occupational therapy available. Very often someone will be admitted to a nursing home for post-surgery temporary short-term rehabilitation and acute care. Genworth Insurance Cost of Care Survey estimates the national monthly average in 2021 was $7,908.00 for a semi-private room and $9,034.00 for a private room.
- Life Plan Community: A Life Plan community is what used to be known as a CCRC or Continuing Care Retirement Community. Life plan communities offer a tiered lifestyle and healthcare options all on one campus, including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. Like an active adult community, the services and amenities can vary but unlike an active adult community, most amenities and services are usually life plan communities’ monthly fees or rent. There are several financial models utilized by life plan communities.
- Rental Community: This model is as straightforward as it sounds, there is usually no entrance fee or “buy-in” and the rent is based on the size of the residence and the level of care from independent living through the higher levels of care offered. Most have a second-person monthly fee as well. Leases for rental communities can vary in length and often, a longer lease results in a lower monthly rent.
- Fee For Service: Fee for service communities frequently require an entry fee or “buy-in” and a monthly fee based on the size of a residence, there is also an additional monthly fee for a second person. When a resident needs a higher level of care such as assisted living or nursing care, the monthly fee will increase based on the level of care. The second person would remain in the original residence and pay the one-person independent living monthly fee in addition to the monthly fee being paid for the person in the care area.
- Lifecare: A life care community, as a rule, requires a larger entry fee and monthly fee than a rental or fee-for-service community. However, the benefit of these higher fees is that should one or both residents need higher levels of care either temporarily or permanently the change in the monthly fee is minimal if there is an increase at all. In essence, the community is providing a long-term care insurance policy along with all the other benefits of moving into a retirement community.
The best day to start planning for your future was yesterday. Start your research for the options in your area today. Have conversations with your spouse, partner, children, physician and whomever else’s opinion you value. Planning for the future does not mean you have to make a decision or even move today, tomorrow, or next week, but it does mean that when the time comes you will know what your options are and will be able to make an informed decision.
[ii] 2020 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (https://acl.gov/ltc/basic-needs/how-much-care-will-you-needopens in new window). Site accessed01/10/22.