When you were preparing for a previous move, you probably considered an almost infinite number factors when choosing your next home. Several categories probably included: location, school district, distance to work, walkability, surrounding homes, close to good medical care, distance to family members, distance from home, upcoming nuptials, expanding immediate family and your new neighborhood surrounds. And this is not nearly a complete list.
When it comes to moving to a 55+ community, three considerations rise to the top of the list:
- What is the ownership structure of my home?
- What is my plan for future care?
- How many activities am I looking for?
THE OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE:
Independent senior living boils down to three basic categories. The first is a 55+ Community, where the homes are generally bought and sold as ordinary real estate. 55+ Communities are usually age restricted – though some are age targeted and provide amenities such as a pool and other activities. These communities offer no health care option.
The second is a Life Plan Community (formerly known as a continuing care retirement community or CCRC). Families move into LPCs via a rental contract that includes the added benefit of having a care insurance associated with the agreement. That insurance product provides higher levels of care that are generally provided at the same community.
The third type of community is an Independent Living Community, where occupancy is based on a rental agreement, the landlord does not provide a care insurance component and there isn’t a higher level of care available at the community. Some independent living communities combine different components of the ownership structures mentioned above as a hybrid offering.
FUTURE CARE PLAN:
Moving into independent living by definition means that a higher level of care is currently not needed. And yet, families moving into independent living are aware of their potential future needs for higher levels of care. Some people want their future care-needs to be as seamless as possible. For those individuals, a Life Plan Community makes sense. A family that lives in a Life Plan Community and needs higher levels of care can easily receive that care because it’s simply part of the services offered within the community. There is no extra level of logistics to go through.
For someone living in a 55+ Community or an Independent Living Community without a higher level of care, the assisted living or skilled nursing that may be needed in the future must be arranged at the time it is needed. Additionally, it’s important to know that the cost of the additional care is not factored into the cost of living in a 55+ or Independent Living Community.
ACTIVITIES, ACTIVITIES, ACTIVITIES:
Let’s face it – the activities are probably the largest enticement of moving to an independent senior living community. Most communities publish a daily list of events. Here is an example of the activities at a 55+ Community and at a Life Plan Community. The amenities range from the sparse (grass cutting and snow removal) to the over-indulgent (salons, theater performances and several restaurants to choose from for every meal) Activities are the lifeblood of the community. When you live outside of a community, you are your own residential life coordinator. At communities, there’s an employee whose main responsibility is to provide activities that will engage, inform, educate and provide socialization for all of the residents. Isn’t that what you are really looking for in retirement? Well if you live in one of these communities, you’ll definitely have an activities director/social coordinator whose job it is to make sure you enjoy life.