Showing posts with label senior housing options. Show all posts
Showing posts with label senior housing options. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Which Senior Housing Option is Best for You?

As Baby Boomers begin to reach retirement age, one thing on their mind is where they should live as they age.  Some Boomers want to make one decision and be done.  They hope to find a single choice that will meet their needs for the rest of their lives.  Other people want to live an active, independent life first and later move to assisted living or a similar facility.

There is no option that is perfect for everyone.  Your financial situation and health will almost certainly affect your decision.  You may also be influenced by where you currently live, as well as where other members of your family live ... aging parents, adult children, grandchildren and, in some cases, your siblings.

To help readers know their range of options, below is an overview of the types of housing that are available.  Most of these choices are available in every region of the United States.  Some of these may be senior housing options that you might not have previously considered.  However, before making a final decision about where to retire, it is important that we know what choices are available. You can find links to more articles about most of these options by clicking on the tab above labeled: "Retire in the U.S."  There are dozens of helpful articles that will give you more detailed information.

Senior Housing Options

Age in Place:  One of the most popular choices is to remain exactly where you are.  The Age in Place movement has become more popular and there are now a wide variety of resources to make it easier for people to continue to live in their own homes as they get older.  Contact senior centers and home heath care facilities in your area to see what types of assistance are available.  Many communities can help with low cost meals at near-by senior centers or Meals on Wheels delivered to your home; free or low-cost transportation; exercise programs; social programs and other activities that can make it easier for you to remain in your home.  Many communities also offer a PACE program.  This is short for Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly and offers the equivalent of high quality nursing home care in your own home.

Over-55 Communities:  Del Webb, Lenair, Trilogy and several other builders have created over-55 communities in a wide variety of locations across the United States ... especially across the Sunbelt, although there are also options in northern states.  These communities are more than subdivisions for senior citizens.  They often pride themselves in the resort-style facilities they provide their residents ... golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, exercise facilities, theaters and more.  They are sometimes also called Active Adult Communities.  My husband and I currently live in an over-55 community near Laguna Beach, California.  It has been a very relaxing and pleasant option, since so much is done for us ... including lawn care and building maintenance.

Senior Apartments:  Many seniors choose to move into senior apartments, especially if they wish to get away from maintaining a home.  There are luxury apartments for middle class and affluent retirees, as well as subsidized apartments for moderate and low-income retirees.  In subsidized apartments, the rent is usually based on a percentage of your income (on a sliding scale).  Whether luxury or subsidized, most of these senior apartments provide special services for seniors ... social events, transportation, assistance with housekeeping, exercise facilities, swimming pools, etc.  Sometimes the services are provided by outside agencies in the communities ... such as transportation to medical visits.

Accessory Dwelling Units or Granny Pods:  Another option some Baby Boomers are choosing is to move in with their children.  Instead of boomerang kids, many Baby Boomers are becoming boomerang parents.  There are several valid reasons for this choice:  you may be in poor health and need assistance with meals or dressing; your children may want you there to provide care for your grandchildren; it could be the best choice financially for either you or your children.  One way to facilitate this when the parents have their own, separate living space. An accessory dwelling unit is the term used to describe a second living space in the home or on the property that will allow you some privacy while living with your children.  This second living space can be an addition to the home, a remodeled basement or a separate apartment.  Granny Pods, another possibility, are pre-fab senior homes that are set up on the property.

Board and Care Homes:  These are group homes for people who don't need a nursing home, but cannot live independently, either.  Many people like them because of their comfortable, homey atmosphere.  Residents usually have a private room and bathroom, but share meals and common areas. I have known a variety of people who have chosen this option ... for reasons such as severe arthritis or mild mental impairment which make independent living difficult.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs):  One new wave in senior housing is the CCRC.  These are communities which you usually buy into by paying a large upfront fee, as well as a monthly fee.  When you first move into the community, you live independently in your own home or apartment.  The community guarantees that they will then take care of your needs for the rest of your life, whether that means you need some assistance in your own home or you need to move into an assisted living facility, a skilled nursing facility or a memory care home ... facilities which are usually located within the community.  This is an especially popular option for couples who believe that one of them might have to move into a nursing facility, but not the other.  In this way, they can still be close to each other.  CCRCs have also become a popular option for healthy people who know they will not qualify for affordable long-term care insurance.  Once they move into a CCRC, residents do not have to worry about their future care, regardless of what health problems they or their spouse may develop.

Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care Facilities:  Many people who start out living in their own home or senior apartment will eventually need more care than they can easily receive in their personal residence.  Those people may eventually move into one of the other types of senior housing mentioned above, or they may move directly into the type of assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care facility that is appropriate for their needs.  These are usually paid for in one of three ways:  Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or out-of-pocket payments made by the senior citizen or their family members.  Of those, Medicaid (called MediCal in California) is the most common provider of funds for these programs, although there are financial asset and income restrictions on who can qualify for Medicaid.  These facilities can be expensive ... ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 a month, depending on the region of the country and the amount of care the resident needs.  That is why long-term care insurance is a good investment, especially if you believe there is even a possibility that you or your spouse could someday need to move into one of these facilities.

If you are interested in learning more about where to retire, common medical issues, long-term care, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare or more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of helpful articles.

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Photo credit:  Photo of clubhouse at the Laguna Woods Village over-55 community was taken by author, Deborah Dian; all rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Best Senior Housing Choices for Aging Boomers

While most of us do not like to think about it, the Baby Boomer generation is getting older.  Currently, over 10,000 Baby Boomers a day are turning 65.  The oldest Baby Boomers are now turning 70.  This trend has been going on for several years and will continue over the next decade.  Many of us are in good health, active and involved with our families and communities. 

The vast majority of Baby Boomers currently live independent lives in our own homes.  Most of us are still able to take care of housework, yard work, shopping and meal preparation.  It may be hard to believe, but this will not always be true.  What does the future have in store?

Our Future Housing Needs

Over the next ten to twenty years, the housing needs of Baby Boomers are going to change.  Based on what typically happens as people reach their late seventies and early eighties, it is likely that most of us will find it increasingly difficult to live independently.

Statistically, about two-thirds of us will need long-term care.  About one-fifth of us will need long-term care for more than five years.

If you want to have a choice in the type of care you receive when the time comes, you need to educate yourself about your choices while you are still in your late sixties or early seventies.  Even if you never need this information yourself, it is likely that one of your near relatives will need it, and you will be equipped to assist them.  With this thought in mind, I would like to highly recommend this book:

"Your Senior Housing Options" (available using this link from Amazon)

I did not write this book, nor do I know the author.  However, it is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to have a voice in their future housing choices as they age, rather than being dependent on their children to make decisions for them.

Even if you do not purchase the book, there are certain things everyone needs to consider when thinking about where to live as you age.

The Seven Deadly Sins in Finding Senior Housing

Among the information you will learn in this book are the things you do NOT want to do as you age.  Below is a brief summary of them.

You do NOT want to:

*  Wait until you are desperate and need housing immediately;
*  Base your choice solely on the cheapest place you can find;
*  Not have a plan for your long-term care costs;
*  Judge your senior housing solely on its outward appearance, apartment size and location;
*  Not know which questions to ask;
*  Believe whatever the sales person says, without making sure their promises are written in the contract (or not realize that you are dealing with a sales person and not a helpful consultant);
*  Fail to get the opinions of your friends and relatives when you evaluate your choices.

What Should You Be Doing Now?

In addition to reading the above book, it would be advisable to start planning for your later years.  Those who are planning ahead are more likely to have long-term care insurance.  They are also more likely to visit the various assisted living and long-term care communities in their area.  Most of these facilities have luncheons and tours which will give you the opportunity to see their model apartments and learn more about the costs associated with living in them.  You can also find out what amenities they offer.

In addition, visit your friends who have moved to one of the senior apartments, assisted living or nursing care facilities in your area.  Your friends will appreciate the visit and you will be able to decide which communities you like the best.

Personally, I have had friends who have moved into a wide variety of facilities in our area.  It is amazing to me how different they are.  To be honest, some of them look and smell like hospitals, especially the skilled nursing facilities.  Others are more like upscale senior apartment complexes with meals that are served restaurant-style in elegant dining rooms.  Some even have the option of requesting "room service" when you are ill or don't feel as if you can get down to the dining room.

Nearly all of these communities have planned activities and special events, but you need to make sure that they have the types of events that interest you.  Some of them, for example, are sponsored by religious groups.  In this case, make sure you are comfortable with the religious affiliation that supports that particular assisted living facility.

Aren't All Assisted Living Communities Pretty Much the Same?

NO!  There are enormous differences in the types of communities that are available. Here are just a few of the major differences you should know about:

Some of them require that you buy into the community at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars ... which frequently comes from the equity in your current home (assuming you have not taken out a large reverse mortgage).  However, these communities will usually guarantee that they will take care of you for the rest of your life, even if you need skilled nursing or a memory care facility.  They are also called a CCRC, or Continuing Care Retirement Community and can be an excellent choice for people who do not have long-term care insurance.  They provide peace-of-mind to the person who wants to be sure that will be cared for, no matter what happens in the future.

Other senior housing communities have no down-payment or buy-in requirement.  You pay for them month-to-month on a rental basis.  Often, these communities contain both people who need assistance as well as residents who moved there long before they developed a medical issue that forced them into assisted living.  Sometimes people move into a senior community simply because they do not want to cook any longer.  In other situations, one spouse is still healthy but the other needs care.  These senior housing communities may or may not have skilled nursing and memory care facilities, so make sure you choose one that meets your specific needs.  Most of these rental communities will accept your long-term care insurance when you need extra assistance (assuming you have purchased it).  This is usually not an option in the communities which require a large down payment, although there may be exceptions. 

This is an important consideration:  If you purchased long-term care insurance, a rental assisted living community will probably be your best future option.  If you did not purchase long-term care insurance, buying into a CCRC community that promises to care for you for the rest of your life is an excellent option.  Just make sure you fully understand the services that are offered by the community your choose.

Some assisted living communities and nursing homes accept Medicaid and these are ideal choices for those people who have a low retirement income and few assets.  Like the other types of facilities, they may or may not have the specific amenities and services that appeal to you.  Even low-income patients have options, so it is wise to explore them in advance.  I have known people who loved their Medicaid-covered assisted living facilities, so keep an open mind.

The quality of all these facilities varies widely.  As a result, you want to have plenty of time to visit them, talk to current residents and discuss the costs, amenities and care you would receive in each one.  This is why you do NOT want to wait until the need arises before you start investigating your choices.

What Happens to People Who Do Not Plan Ahead?

Most of us don't like to believe that we will ever need to move into an assisted living facility and, if you are lucky, you may be one of the one-third of Baby Boomers who never needs this extra care, even on a short-term basis.  However, it is smart to have a plan, just in case.

Everyone should have the name of a place they can afford and that they believe they would like.  Perhaps it is one where some of your friends already live.

If you do not plan ahead, you could find yourself in the unfortunate position where your adult children or other relatives make the decision for you, and they are unlikely to have any idea where your friends already live.  In addition, they may not know which community is the most appealing to you.  Finally, they may have no idea which items from your home you would like to take with you.  Take the time to plan ahead and you are much more likely to be happy with your living situation, when the time comes.

If you are interested in additional information on where to retire, long-term care, financial planning, medical issues that can arise in retirement, and changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of Clubhouse at Laguna Woods Village, an independent living senior community in Southern California, is property of author, Deborah-Diane; all rights reserved.