Planning matters

Is a Retirement Community Right for You?

Seniors planning to move into continuing care retirement communities expect to enjoy amenities such as libraries, fitness centers, and dining rooms while they’re healthy, and to receive excellent skilled-nursing care if they fall ill. When all the pieces fall into place, that’s exactly what happens. It’s important to ask the right questions to ensure that the facilities offer what is needed most.

Most people prefer to “age in place”, rather than move from their family home. But for those who don’t, there is an increased interest in the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) concept. A key selling point of these communities is the availability of multiple levels of health care in one campus, from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care (often including memory care). Many love the idea of no longer being responsible for cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance. For others, having activities to participate in and increased social contact are key benefits. But there are many other aspects to consider, too.

Understanding the costs involved can be a bit of a challenge. Those specific details can be found within the CCRC contracts, and should cover the entrance fees, monthly fees and amount of health care and insurance included. Communities often require an application process before accepting new residents, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to submit details about your finances and health conditions. If your application is approved, you’ll also want to find out how much of the entrance fee is refundable (and under what circumstances), what the historical monthly fee increase has been and what will happen to residents if assets are outlived.

Other smart questions include learning how involved the residents are in the community, what drives the owner’s mission, what the occupancy rates have been over time, whether care is consistent from one living arrangement to the next, and how financially stable the CCRC really is –for example, what would happen to your deposit if something happened to the parent company?

Costs and benefits of moving to a CCRC should also be weighed against other options, such as retrofitting a home to accommodate health challenges, arranging in-home health care, or sharing a home with a family member. If one chooses to remain in their own home, issues such as loneliness, nutritional needs, and transportation difficulties must be factored into the solution.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about where you’d like to live and how much you can afford well before needing to make a transition. Talk with your planner, who can help identify the best options for your situation and help you plan for your future housing arrangement, whatever it may be.