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Life Plan Communities vs. Rental Senior Living Communities

son taking a walk with his father while pushing his wheelchair

When you begin your research about senior living communities, you’ll be learning a lot of names, terms and abbreviations that are new to you. And just as when you learn anything new, take your time, relax, and you’ll soon start to understand.

Some of the most important information to learn early on is the difference between a Life Plan Community (sometimes called a continuing care retirement community or CCRC) and a senior rental community. It’s important to know what distinguishes one from the other, as well as what kinds of contracts are available at Life Plan Communities, including Life Care, considered the gold  standard in senior living contract options.


What Is a Life Plan Community with Life Care?

Life Plan Communities are entrance fee communities that offer independent living as well as a continuum of on-site care. The levels of care offered may include all or just some of these: assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing/rehab; many also offer respite care and hospice care. Life Plan Communities may offer one or more of these contract options: Type A – Life Care, Type B – Modified Plan, Type C – Fee-for-Service. The services and amenities, lifestyle, and levels of care may be similar at different Life Plan Communities, but how – and how much – you pay for any on-site long-term care you may need depends on the contract you sign.

Life Care is a senior living contract option that takes the long view of your future in mind. With this option, you’ll pay the highest entrance fee of any of the three types of contract options, but you’re in essence prepaying for any care you might need. And keep this in mind: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services says that, if you’re 65 or older, you have a 70% chance of needing long-term care in your lifetime, and the average length of time needed for such care is three years.  There are tax advantages to Life Care contracts, and entrance fees at Life Plan Communities are almost always partially refundable when you leave the community. Beyond the one-time entrance fee, you’ll pay regular monthly fees, as you would at a rental community. With a Life Care contract, you’ll get the best available care for the least amount of money … and you’ll be entitled to receive that care at far less than market rates for as long as you need it. You’ll know where you’ll receive that care, who will provide it, and how much it will cost.  This gives you and your loved ones peace of mind in knowing you’ll always have a home and the care you need, whatever may occur.


What Is a Senior Rental Community?

This is a senior living option that simply costs you a monthly fee for rent, services and amenities. There is no entrance fee associated with this choice, although there may be a one-time community fee or deposit of some sort. This may be an acceptable choice if you’re independent, healthy and active, in no need of care. But if the time comes when you do need increased levels of care, you’ll have some decisions to make. Many rental communities offer no care of any kind, in which case you would have to move immediately to a place where you can receive the care you need. Some rental communities do offer higher levels of care, but you’ll pay for that care on a fee-for-service basis at market rates.


Differences in Retirement Lifestyle

A senior rental community is really just an age-restricted apartment setting. You may have a choice of some services and amenities, but the focus is likely mainly about housing. If you require any in-home care or rehabilitation, some senior rental communities may offer some on-site care, or can put you in contact with an outside agency, but you may be required to locate, hire and manage any care you need entirely independently. Also, as with any apartment complex, your neighbors can tend to come and go, making for a living option that isn’t focused on community.

At a Life Plan Community, there are typically many services and amenities to take advantage of for no extra cost, as well as clubs, organized events, and opportunities for continuous learning right on campus. A Life Plan Community offering Life Care is more focused on the future, and residents are far more likely to consider it their permanent home. All these factors mean that residents typically socialize with each other more, and could be more likely to form lasting friendships, which leads to a deeper sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.


Cost Differences

A senior rental community will be much less of a financial investment at the start. You’ll simply pay your monthly rent and fees as you would in any apartment setting. This can provide you with more disposable income for an active independent lifestyle at first, but it leaves you vulnerable to the possibility of unexpected costs of any future care you may need. The cost of senior living tends to rise as older adults begin to require more care, and these costs can be unpredictable.

The entrance fee of a community offering a Life Care contract is a way for you to invest in your future. If you want to settle  safely into a community you’ll never have to leave no matter what may occur, this may be an ideal senior living option for you.


Increased Levels of Care

In both senior living options, residents can enter the community fully capable of being in independent living. But a Life Plan Community that has Life Care offers a continuum of on-site care,  meaning they provide more thorough and comprehensive care options if you ever need assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing or memory care. You’ll find everything you need in the same community.

Life Plan Communities offering Life Care are becoming increasingly popular. That’s because today’s seniors are living longer, more vibrant lives than at any time before, and many are realizing they need to continue to invest in their long-term future.


Lake Port Square: A Life Plan Community

In the central Florida area, you can find a place to call home for now and all the days ahead. The services, amenities, activities and opportunities at Lake Port Square allow you to continue on a path of true wellness and fulfillment. All this, along with your Life Care contract, make it the perfect setting for a comfortable, happy retirement lifestyle.

To find out more about our Life Care contract or health services, contact us or schedule an appointment to take a tour of our independent living options.