With so many different types of senior living choices out there, finding the one that checks every box on your list canbe difficult. Between your future healthcare and any unexpected financial changes that may arise, your decision to create a plan is extremely important to living a fulfilling and enjoyable retirement.
After all, these are supposed to be some of your best years – you deserve to make the best of every moment and experience.
Follow us as we break down all the essentials you may need to be aware of along the way: the differences between retirement lifestyles, what it means to fulfill your needs, and how to choose a retirement that’s as fulfilling as it is fruitful to your well-being.
What Are My Retirement Living Options?
1. Aging in Place
It’s probably a term you may have heard thrown around a few times as you approach retirement, but what does it really mean to “age in place”?
Aging in place is a retirement lifestyle where a person lives in their preferred choice of residence for as long asthey are physically able to. Generally, those who choose to take this route do so in the comfort of the home that they lived in during the years leading up to their retirement.
The Benefits of Aging in Place
Of course, there’s plenty of reasons why so many Americans choose to stay in their homes during the later years of their lives. And most of them are fairly straightforward.
For starters, it’s easy. Rather than beginning fresh in a new community, you maintain the comforts of familiarity that come with staying at home. All the routines that you may have established over the years make new lifestylechanges feel unnecessary or cumbersome. This is especially true for those who have developed neighborly connections or have friends and family nearby.
Not making a move also means foregoing some of the stress that might be associated with such a change, bothfinancially and physically. Not only do you avoid paying to move your furniture, but you also don’t need to worry about the effort that comes with packing the boxes and loading the truck itself.
However, most of these benefits are only perceived as such because of our fear of the unknown. Because as muchas we crave security, there are some clear disadvantages associated with staying at home.
The Risks of Aging in Place
Even though living at home may seem like the simplest course of action, it becomes a bit tricky in the
long term as you age. That’s because as you grow older, many of the things we take for granted begin to get more difficult to deal with than they were when we were younger. Here’s a few common issues seniors deal with when aging in place:
- No healthcare options easily available when in need: While most of us enter retirement at an age whenwe can live independently, we all inevitably reach an age where an extra hand becomes necessary to maintain good health. And though our children may involuntarily take that role on for some time, it’s normally not asustainable For those choosing to “age in place,” hiring a professional may be the best solution, but the costs can add up quickly.
- The burden of owning a home: As simple chores around the house (like home maintenance, lawn care, housekeeping, etc.) become more problematic to complete, the work can pile up and become And though hiring outside help can make things easier, the costs of doing so can be intimidatingly high.
- Becoming lonely or feeling isolated: Many seniors lose their ability to drive or transport themselves fromone location to another, making them reliant on others to get them from point A to point B. Without the freedom to move around as you please, the likelihood of becoming lonely or isolated increases, which has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing dementia by about 50% as well.
2. Single Service Rental Retirement Communities
Also known as “free-standing” communities, single service rental retirement communities are another option for retired adults. More specifically, these communities are for seniors looking for a short-term, affordable option to enjoy their retirement in.
What are the benefits of this retirement living model?
At a single service community, you pay for what you need. Of course, this means that you get to choose what services are necessary for you, and potentially may be able to save a few pennies while you do it. In this way, seniors living at these communities get an a la carte experience with what they pay for, rather than buying an all-inclusive package and potentially not using some of those services.
Additionally, there is no entrance fee associated with these sorts of communities. Seniors moving here simply sign a lease for an agreed-upon length of time, which is normally a year. This is an added cost that’s saved, making this sort of community a recommended selection for those in search of an affordable retirement option.
Are there risks associated with this model of community?
Unfortunately, the main issue with this model is that should your health needs exceed the services provided in the community, you (or your family) will have to begin searching for a new community that offers those services. Finding that next community is a difficult task, especially for those that are in heavy demand – most are either full orhave a long waiting list, leaving you stuck to figure out a solution in the interim.
Some of the most common single service rental communities available in the market are:
Rental independent living communities: This style of community does not offer nursing or medical care, whichnormally makes them a short-term move for older adults living there. Your monthly fees are 100% out of pocket. Also, since they do not provide healthcare services, these communities are not regulated/licensed by the state.
Rental assisted living communities: Charging a one-time entrance fee upon move-in, these sorts of assisted livingcommunities provide help for activities like bathing, dressing, grooming, etc., through the services of licensed caregivers who work there. Generally, the cost of these communities is higher than that of an independent living community.
Skilled nursing communities: Varying from short to long-term rehabilitation, these types of communities are often used to assist injured/ill residents return to their retirement community of choice. While many of theseaccept Medicaid, some do not, so it’s important to know if you’re paying out-of-pocket – especially for seniors who are getting long-term care at these facilities.
3. Life Plan Communities
Life Plan Communities (also known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRC’s) are a full- service, all-levels-of-care model of senior living that are becoming the standard in retirement real estate. This style of communityis focused on providing residents with an active lifestyle, as well as a blanket of security through the continuum of care commitment that’s promised when you become a resident.
Normally, these sorts of communities are chock-full of amenities and services you might expect to get at a high-end hotel or condominium. Rather than cafeteria-style food, these communities usually provide restaurant-style dining options with menus that change weekly and even offer seasonal options for you and whoever you may be eating with that night: neighbors, friends, and even family.
And beyond what’s on campus, most Life Plan Communities are located near retirement-friendly destinations that offer a wide array of things to do. So whether you’re into hiking or biking, like to go on an occasional shopping spree, or are simply just someone who enjoys getting out to local restaurants, these communities usually have something for everyone.
What is a continuum of care?
For senior living communities, a continuum of care means that the retirement community offers seniors the ability totransition from one level of care to the next as needs arise. With this model of senior living, residents can live their lives without the worry of the unknown. Instead, they get to go about their days knowing healthcare needs will be met regardless of how they change over time.
There are 3 levels of care that follow independent living: assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing or rehabilitation. Though not all residents will need to use each level of care during their residency, the security of having assistance available, should that time come, is priceless.
What are the potential challenges of living at a Life Plan Community?
For one, making the move to a Life Plan community requires an adjustment to your normal lifestyle. It can be difficult leaving your home or neighborhood to move to an entirely new
community, and the social challenges that may come with that can vary from person to person. So, while these communities do a lot to make that transition more simplified, an adjustment should be expected no matter your situation.
Secondly, the time and research that goes into finding the right community for you is often fairly extensive. With so many options to choose from, and locations found across the country, the process of choosing a community that perfectly suits you is normally a long one and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. You’ll probably want to put on your investigative monocle as you tour around to see if the communities you’re touring are everything they advertise to be.
Aside from the time it requires to find one, the cost seen on paper for a Life Plan Community is one of the more common deterrents for seniors on the hunt for their retirement destination.
More specifically, the entrance fee – a one-time upfront payment to move into the community – is usually a six-figure price tag, making some consider whether the value of moving to that community is worth the investment. Which brings us to our next question…
Are life plan communities financially secure?
The short answer: yes. In fact, one of the main reasons Life Plan Communities are becoming so popular is theirknack for fostering a sense of financial security for those choosing to live there – even when the resident outlivestheir financial commitment to the community. Of course, the chances of this being the case are low, as most require some sort of financial qualification to move in.
Aside from the financial security, there are several finical benefit associated with moving to a Life Plan Communityas well. In many states, tax advantages are available. Additionally, the entrance fee is often partially or fully refundable, meaning you can get your money back should you change your mind.
What are the benefits of living in a life plan community?
Beyond all the healthcare-related benefits that come with moving to a Life Plan Community, the list of lifestyleadvantages associated with it can be lengthy. From the freedom to come and go as you please, to the added wellness amenities and services available around campus, there’s a lot to love about the CCRC model. Let’s dive into a few of them here.
Amenities and Services
As far as standard services and amenities go, Life Plan Communities offer more to you than any other model ofsenior living. Remove the exceptional healthcare services offered, and you’re still left with a wide array of wellness and lifestyle offerings that make your life more fun and free on a day-to-day basis.