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Planning for High-Quality Care: Why Seniors Choose Life Plan Communities and Move When Independent

Studies show about 70% of adults aged 65 years and older will require long-term care at some point. The question is, how do people plan for future care? Let’s look at two distinct approaches to financial planning for post-retirement, specifically planning for care costs.

The Planners vs. The Waitniks

 

COUPLE 1: the Planners

A few years past retirement age, this couple has read the stats about long-term care needs. Also, they’re growing tired of maintaining a house large enough to raise three kids who no longer live at home. So the Planners begin to explore senior living options, knowing it’s almost certain at least one of them someday will need care. With this in mind, the Planners decide on a Life Plan Community. Not coincidentally, Life Plan Communities are also known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs. This senior living option allows the Planners to seamlessly transition to levels of care provided on-site as they need them:

  • Independent living
  • Assisted living
  • Skilled nursing and short-term rehab

With one decision, the Planners’ care needs are covered. Plus, knowing that they have a secure plan in place is reassuring to both the Planners and their families.

The costs of a Life Plan Community
Because so much is included, the fee structure of a Life Plan Community is a little different than other types of senior living options.

A resident pays a one-time entrance fee, plus a monthly fee. In return, they live in a stylish and right-sized maintenance-free home. They enjoy the social life and community activities, and have access to on-site amenities, including the community’s dining plan.

MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, if a Life Plan Community resident ever needs care, they receive it on-site at stable, predictable rates; thus, the resident is protected from the ever-rising costs of care on the open market.

Two more financial advantages to a Life Plan Community:

  1. A Life Plan Community’s entrance fee is partially refundable if the resident leaves the community, protecting their estate for their heirs.
  2. The entrance fee and monthly fees may be tax deductible as prepaid medical expenses. Always consult a financial advisor about tax laws.

The lifestyle
It’s important to note that Life Plan Communities aren’t just about senior care. Moving in while independent puts in place an array of enriching lifestyle advantages. The Planners now live amid enriching amenities and services, such as fitness centers, dining options, social activities and transportation services. They’re relieved of homeowner hassles. And they now have more free time and opportunities for enjoyment – with each other and with fellow residents who also see the overall value of a Life Plan Community.

COUPLE 2: The Waitniks

They’re going to age in place, staying in their home “for as long as we can” and “wait till we need care” before considering another senior living option. They have a long loving marriage and expect to care for each other if needed. This a lovely notion. Nevertheless, it isn’t much of a plan. Here’s why:

As noted above, more than two-thirds of seniors will need some sort of long-term care. Often, this situation doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a gradual, age-related decline that doesn’t reach a crisis until living at home becomes difficult or even unsafe.

Along the way, the Waitniks can expect to become more isolated and lonely, as socializing becomes harder. The one who needs care helps less around the house, leaving their spouse to manage never-ending housework, as well as providing care.

The costs of aging in place
On top of the emotional cost and exhaustion of becoming a family caregiver, it may seem like continuing to live at home is still the most affordable senior living option. But let’s take a closer look.

Even if the mortgage is paid off, there are still regular expenses: monthly utility bills, property taxes, all groceries, home and yard maintenance, not to mention unexpected repairs. While still able, there are gym memberships, car payments and gas, and out-of-the-home entertainment.

And then there’s the cost of care.

When the time comes that either of the Waitniks needs long-term care, they’ll pay full market rates. In Central Florida, as of 2024, that could be as much as $4,000 a month for assisted living and a whopping $10,000 a month for nursing care. Expect these amounts to increase over time.

By comparison, the costs of care at a Life Plan Community remain stable. A resident essentially continues to pay the same monthly fee as they did before they needed care, with a minimal increase to cover all three meals per day.

How to be a Planner and start thinking now about future long-term care

For most older adults, exploring senior living options is unfamiliar territory. Start by gathering information from experts.

Lake Port Square, a Life Plan Community in Central Florida, has been helping seniors live better for more than 25 years. We will be happy to be a resource for you on your senior living journey. Contact us today, and we’ll candidly answer all your senior living and long-term care questions.