Tips to choosing a retirement community

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At every stage of life, we want to be able to exercise control and make choices. Among the most critical of those choices is where and how to live. This is particularly true for older adults, who are looking to stay put and age in place. Affordability, elevator or single-floor living, access to services, and a like-minded community stand out as the top decision drivers. Equally important is making sure that access to services and health care remains viable and affordable as needs change over time. While no one has a crystal ball, the future outlook for optimum health and activity for most of us will require some greater level of assistance.

Here are some senior housing options, and pros and cons to keep in mind.

Stand-alone Rental Communities with Assisted and Independent Living options
These communities offer a no-commitment option for people who may or may not be quite ready for assisted-living services but are looking for convenience, prepared meals, transportation, maintenance-free living, a low community fee and community activities. Assisted living and dementia care options are available on site. While this may be an excellent short term option, it’s important to understand that while you may initially live independently, as your needs change, costs will rise according to your needs and you may have to move to a different room or even to a different facility to get a higher level of care. Often, your apartment does not have a fully equipped kitchen and all meals are provided. Additionally, if you require a hospital stay followed by rehab, you’ll have to continue paying to hold onto your accommodations at your independent living or assisted-living residence until you’re well enough to return. Fees can vary widely and are unpredictable. Most of these communities are for profit.

If you run out of money because of unanticipated health or other issues, most of these communities do not accept Medicaid. Stand-alone assisted living and memory care are likely private pay. Long-term care insurance can help pay for these services. Make sure you read the fine print and are aware of future costs in order to choose the facility that best suits your needs and ability to pay.

Life Plan Community
A Life Plan Community like Jefferson’s Ferry is a not-for-profit alternative that offers residents an active community lifestyle with a guarantee of health care and the ability to age in place in South Setauket. Independent living apartments and cottages, assisted-living apartments and studios, rehabilitation services and skilled nursing with priority access are all available on one campus. A Life Plan community contract protects your estate against the potential high cost of assisted living and long-term care. To become a resident of a Life Plan community, you must meet health, financial and insurance requirements. Each Life Plan Community has its own requirements and contract options. Many Jefferson’s Ferry residents, for example, pay an entrance fee that while it can be sizable, it is in some cases, as high as 90 percent refundable, securing the resident’s estate for their heirs. After the entrance fee is paid, residents are responsible for a predictable monthly fee that does not rise if your health care needs increase. As a not-for-profit community, entrance and monthly fees are invested back into the community. If residents require additional services in rehab, assisted living or skilled nursing, they remain on campus close to family and friends.

55+ Communities
The maintenance free lifestyle offered by a wide variety of 55+ communities is very appealing to the independent and active later middle-aged and senior population. There is a variety of beautiful residences, appealing amenities, and a built-in community of potential friends. While many residents of 55+ communities work well into their 70s, there is generally a dynamic community for daytime social activities. Most of these communities don’t have on-site services of any kind outside of social activities, so it’s important to consider the proximity of shopping, other services and the availability of alternative means of transportation. As your needs change with age, home care is a consideration and expense in this type of community, as would be a move to a community offering the services you may need.

People are aging for a much longer period than years ago. In 2030, the expectation is that there will be twice as many 85-year-olds and three times as many people over 100 years of age than there are today. Today’s older adults are more active than previous generations. People want to be in communities with their friends, who will become more like family members, as our actual family may live far away. Retirement communities help people hold on to the community relationships we need in order to thrive at every age.

 

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