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Author: Claiborne Senior Living

Think Before You Speak

Before talking with your family about moving into a senior living community, make a plan to help the conversation go smoothly.

If you’re thinking about moving to a senior living community, you’re probably waiting for “the right time” to broach the subject with your adult children and other family members. Unfortunately, rarely is there ever an ideal time to have a difficult chat. Instead of waiting for a conversational door to magically appear, a better approach is to build the door yourself. And that takes planning. Here are four things you should do to prepare:

Understand Your Options:

When you tell your family that you want to move into a senior living community, what they might hear from you is, “I’m ready to go to a nursing home.” But senior living communities aren’t nursing homes. Senior housing today encompasses a diverse menu of safe, comfortable and dignified choices that allow seniors to live as independently as they want to, with as much—or as little—assistance as they need.

Before you discuss senior living with your family, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what those choices are so that you can explain to your loved ones what your plan entails and how it will help you achieve the medical, emotional, social and/or financial goals that you have set for yourself. In particular, you’ll want to understand the difference between the different types of communities – from independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, life plan communities.

Clarify Your Goals and Wishes:

Even if you do a good job explaining what modern senior living communities look like, your family members might have a hard time seeing past negative stereotypes and emotional assumptions. For that reason, it’s important that you be able to express not only where you want to spend your golden years, but also why you want to spend them there. Here are a few of the most common reasons that seniors give for moving into a senior living community. Before you speak to your family, think about which ones resonate most with you.

  1. Safety
  2. Health & Wellness
  3. Financial Security
  4. Socialization
  5. Support
  6. Mental Acuity

Prepare an Outline:

When it comes to something as sensitive as aging, it may feel most natural to speak from the heart. And you should, because sincerity is important. It’s also important, however, to be prepared, organized and cogent. If you leave your remarks to chance, you might forget to say something important, and could end up meandering in ways that make your decision appear hasty and ill-conceived.

To come off as both authentic and informed, prepare a loose agenda or outline prior to speaking with your family members—something that you can consult as you talk, but which you won’t read verbatim. Because talks about senior housing can be extremely emotional and stressful, writing down the things you want to say and the points you want to make can ensure that conversations are focused, rational and productive, but also genuine and heartfelt.

Anticipate Questions:

Remember that conversation is by nature a two-way street. While it’s important to prepare what you want to say, it’s just as critical that you be ready to hear your family members’ response. They’ll have feelings to share, but also questions to ask. Lots and lots of questions. If you already have a senior living community in mind, for example, they might want to know the size and setup of the residences, what the monthly rent will be, whether meals are provided, what other services are and aren’t included, and whether Medicare or Medicaid will help with the costs.

As much as you can, try to anticipate what questions they will have, and to prepare answers to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

Read more about how to prepare to to talk with your family about senior living in our guide:

Is it Time to Talk About a Move?

The decision is yours–but making it is easier when your family supports you.

For many seniors, older adulthood eventually brings with it an “aha” moment. It could be early in the morning at the kitchen table, when you’re sipping hot coffee in an empty house that was made for six instead of two. It might be when you find yourself getting winded carrying laundry up the stairs, or when your spouse slips in the shower and nearly breaks a bone. Or maybe it will come on a Saturday night, wishing you were engaged in a boisterous game of canasta with friends instead of nodding off yet again in front of the television. Whenever and wherever it appears, what you’ll probably think to yourself when it comes is, “Maybe it’s time for a change.”

Aging isn’t the end of the road. Rather, it’s the beginning of a new one.

And maybe it is. By the time you reach retirement age, the children you spent your adult life raising are grown. The friends with whom you made your favorite memories have moved on. The hobbies you used to enjoy are no longer fulfilling. And even the most routine household chores have become a lot harder to do.

But aging isn’t the end of the road. Rather, it’s the beginning of a new one. When it’s no longer serving you, letting go of the lifestyle you had can make room for the lifestyle you want.

Whatever it entails—time with family, traveling, yoga, gardening or golf, to name just a few of the infinite possibilities—that lifestyle might become more attainable by moving to a senior living community. There, in a home that’s made for aging, surrounded by useful services, attractive amenities and scores of new friends, your next chapter can be simpler, safer and more satisfying.

Whether your loved ones are welcoming of the idea or wary of it, discussing your future in a senior living community can bring parents, children and siblings closer together in ways that benefit the entire family for years to come—that is, as long as you approach the conversation in ways that are caring, considerate and informed.

Using this guide to plan your discussion will ensure that you do:

Why Aging in Place Isn’t Free

A senior living community might be more affordable than you think. Here is what you can expect to pay for and what you’ll get for your money.

As you contemplate the costs of a senior living community, it’s natural to wonder, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to continue living in my home?” The answer might surprise you.

Before you decide whether living in a senior living community is or is not for you, you may want to determine whether you can afford to – or afford NOT to.

It’s right to be thinking about the cost of senior living communities. Before you rush to judgment, however, it’s important to get a general sense of what expenses you might encounter as well as the services you’ll get in return.

Here’s why:

When you’re crunching the numbers for senior housing, you must consider not only what expenses you will have, but also what expenses you won’t have. Depending on what type of senior living community you select and what services it offers, you might be able to eliminate the following expenses from your monthly budget:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Landscaping
  • Cleaning services
  • Car payments, auto insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment

That’s just the beginning.

You also will eliminate spending on home maintenance and repairs—including expensive replacements of your roof, hot water heater, appliances, and HVAC equipment, all of which have expiration dates.

There are home modifications to consider as well: If you age in place, you’ll eventually have to spend money making your home safe for an older adult to live in (ramps, grab bars, etc.)

If you move to a senior living community, however, safety upgrades like ramps and bathroom grab bars already will be installed at no expense to you. And don’t forget about health care. If you age in place, you may eventually need in-home assistance and medical services, which don’t come cheap.

Seniors who do the math in order to compare what they’ll spend with what they’ll save often discover that a senior living community is just as affordable—and sometimes even more so—than aging in place.

Aging in Place vs Senior Living Community

Whether to move into a senior living community is a decision that seniors and their loved ones often make with the heart. But a decision of such import can’t be made on gut feelings alone. You also have to listen to the numbers.

That requires facts. To get them, make a list of your current resources and expenses, then speak with the sales counselors at prospective communities to get a complete and accurate picture of the scenarios available to you, what they’ll cost and what options exist for financing them.

Finally, meet with your financial advisor to compare current resources and expenses with prospective needs and costs. From that, you should gain a good understanding of whether you can move into a senior living community, at which point you can finally consult your heart for an answer to the question you began with: Should you?

Get more information in our guide, “Retirement ROI: Understanding the Cost of Senior Living.”

Understanding the Costs (& Benefits) of Senior Living

A senior living community might be more affordable than you think. Here is what you can expect to pay for and what you’ll get for your money.

Understanding the Costs

Building your future starts with budgeting for it. Before you decide whether to live in a senior living community, you must determine whether you can afford to.

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve spent years—decades, even—saving money for retirement. When it gets down to brass tacks, however, you haven’t really thought about how you’re going to spend that money. You may have vague notions that you need housing and health care, or that you want to be active and travel, but you’d be hard-pressed to say whether your resources will support your goals, or for how long.

That’s okay. Everyone must start somewhere. And if you or a loved one is thinking about moving to a senior living community, understanding what the costs are and how they’re structured is as good a place to start as any.

Understanding what the costs are and how they’re structured is a good place to start.

Before you start crunching numbers, there are a few things you should understand:

COSTS NEED CONTEXT /  When you begin assessing the costs of senior housing, it’s normal to feel something akin to sticker shock. But big numbers are rarely as large as they initially seem. When you consider what expenses they encompass and over what period of time, and compare that to the equivalent cost of living outside of senior housing, you’ll often determine that the price tag is more affordable than it appeared on first glance.

SENIOR LIVING IS NOT ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL / If you browse the web, talk to friends and family members who have firsthand experience, or commence discussions with specific communities, you might blush at the numbers.

But it’s important to keep in mind that those are not your numbers. The truth is senior living communities boast a wide variety of options at a wide variety of price points in order to appeal to as many potential residents as possible. Before you commit to living in a senior living community—or rule the prospect out—it’s important to examine your unique needs and resources. Then and only then can you paint a complete financial picture.

COMMUNITIES CAN HELP YOU NAVIGATE YOUR OPTIONS / Senior living communities have specialized staff and software that can help you assess the affordability of senior housing based on your age, assets and monthly income from Social Security, pensions, investments, and other resources. If there is a divide between your resources and your goals, they might be able to draw on their daily experience working with residents of diverse means to suggest avenues and ideas that can help you bridge any gaps.

It’s right to be thinking about the cost of senior living communities. Before you rush to judgment, however, use this guide to get a general sense of what expenses you might encounter and what services you’ll get in return. Once you’ve acquired some basic literacy about the financial aspects of senior housing, you can begin the process of determining what your situation may require and what the impact might be on your family, finances, and lifestyle.

1. Housing Costs

Individuals who live in senior housing typically must concern themselves with three principal costs, the first of which is housing.

For most of your adult life, you’ve probably had a rent or mortgage payment. Although it might be called something different, you’ll have a similar housing payment when you live in a senior living community. How much that payment is and how it’s structured will vary from community to community based on factors such as community size, location and type— for example, an independent living community where residents are entirely self-sufficient, an assisted living community where residents may receive assistance with activities of daily living, a memory care community that furnishes specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, or a skilled nursing facility that offers 24/7 medical care.

From a financial perspective, there generally are three varieties of senior housing:

RENTAL COMMUNITIES / In some senior living communities, like independent living communities, residents might sign traditional leases that are similar in terms and cost to those of a conventional apartment. Leases might be month-to-month or annual and might include a security deposit and/or move-in fee that’s typically equal to one month’s rent. Sometimes, amenities and services are ad hoc. Other times, residents enter into a residence and service agreement that encompasses both rent and various onsite services for a single monthly sum. This is especially common in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing communities. Although rental housing tends to be more affordable up front, it tends to be less predictable and can be more expensive over time since services are extra.

OWNERSHIP OR EQUITY COMMUNITIES / In an ownership- or equity-style senior living community, residents purchase their unit, pay real estate taxes on it and are responsible for its upkeep, just like a traditional home. They may pay additional homeowners association dues in exchange for certain amenities, and may have access to additional services, like assisted living, for an additional daily or monthly fee. Equity arrangements may be attractive for estate planning purposes but provide no relief from the burdens of homeownership.

LIFE PLAN COMMUNITIES / Also known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), life plan communities offer myriad levels of care on the same campus in order to accommodate seniors as they age. In exchange for long-term stability and flexibility, they typically charge a significant “entrance fee”—basically, a down payment that must be paid prior to moving in, which often is funded with proceeds from a home sale. Entrance fees can be non-repayable or repayable. The former is lower but non-refundable if a resident moves out or passes away. The latter, on the other hand, are higher but offer generous repayment in the event of a move or death, which can be attractive for estate planning purposes. Although the initial price tag may appear large, the long-term value often exceeds the short-term investment.

2. Monthly Service Fees

Whether you pay them in the form of monthly rent or upfront entrance fees, housing costs typically cover only the roof over your head. Some senior living communities fold an array of services and amenities into that cost; others charge a separate monthly service fee. Make sure you know what’s included and what isn’t in any discussion you’re having with a community! Like the fees themselves, the services they include will vary from community to community. However, they might include things like:

  • Meals and dining
  • Utilities
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry services
  • Local transportation
  • Fitness facilities
  • Resort-style amenities like swimming pools and putting greens
  • Organized social activities and entertainment
  • Nursing services in case of mild illness or injury

Often, communities offer other amenities and services that are paid out of pocket as needed—for example, dry cleaning, an onsite beauty salon, extra housekeeping services or extra meals for visitors.

Make sure you know what’s included and what isn’t in any discussion you’re having with a community.

Keep in mind that because of inflation and other economic variables like the cost of gas and food, monthly service fees may increase over time—typically by less than 5 percent per year. Fortunately, services often can flex with one’s budget. In many cases, for example, services can be customized to residents’ needs. A resident who prefers to cook their own meals in their residence, for example, might pay a lower service fee than a resident who desires a meal plan in the dining hall.

3. Health Care Costs

As we age, we often need increased medical assistance and services.

Although it can be difficult if not impossible to predict one’s future needs, more support naturally translates into greater expense.

Some senior living communities offer residents a means to mitigate those financial risks by offering onsite health care services whose costs are built into the community’s monthly service fees, thereby allowing residents to lock in low prices for future care. This is the case, for example, in life plan communities, which typically offer multiple contract options for residents who may need health care support now or in the future. Some residents may elect to pay a higher monthly fee that promises to cover all their needs over time, regardless of what level of care they need. Other residents may elect to pay graduated monthly fees that start small but grow as their needs increase. Still others may desire a monthly fee that remains consistently low, in which case they’ll pay ad hoc for higher levels of care should they ever need them.

Some senior living communities—especially those owned by nonprofit organizations—may offer benevolence programs and subsidies for qualifying residents, who may be able to continue receiving care if health care costs deplete their assets. And most communities offer social, fitness and wellness programs that can keep residents’ future health care costs in check by keeping their bodies strong, their minds sharp and their spirits high.

Should you move into a senior living community?

If you want the answer, follow the money.

Whether to move into a senior living community is a decision that seniors and their loved ones often make with the heart. But a decision of such import can’t be made on gut feelings alone. You also have to listen to the numbers.

That requires facts. To get them, make a list of your current resources and expenses, then speak with the sales counselors at prospective communities to get a complete and accurate picture of the scenarios available to you, what they’ll cost and what options exist for financing them.

Finally, meet with your financial advisor to compare current resources and expenses with prospective needs and costs. From that, you should gain a good understanding of whether you can move into a senior living community, at which point you can finally consult your heart for an answer to the question you began with: Should you?

Get more information in our guide, “Retirement ROI: Understanding the Cost of Senior Living.”

Better Living Through a Better Lifestyle

You’ve waited your whole life for this moment. Learn how the benefits of a senior living community can help you seize the day.

Once you understand what you want life as an older adult to look like, you can begin searching for solutions that make your goals possible—not just today, but for years and decades to come.

In case the benefits of senior living communities still are not clear, consider the many services and amenities that might be available to you:

MEAL SERVICES / Although residences may have kitchenettes or even full kitchens, many communities also offer chef-prepared meals in onsite restaurants or dining rooms. This not only frees you from the obligation of shopping and cooking, but also ensures that you have the nutrition you need to maintain your health and wellness as you age.

HOUSEKEEPING / As you get older, routine tasks like cleaning and laundry can become not only cumbersome and uncomfortable, but also dangerous. Falling on a wet floor, for example, or lugging a heavy laundry basket could lead to serious injury. A community that offers housekeeping services can therefore be a lifesaver—both figuratively and literally.

HOME MAINTENANCE / You should spend your retirement holding winning bridge hands and yoga poses, not hammers and hedge trimmers. Whether you’re used to DIY or hired help, communities that offer home maintenance services free you from the hassle, expense and safety risks of home repairs and yardwork so you can spend your time, money and energy on hobbies instead of chores.

EXERCISE AND FITNESS PROGRAMS / Because fitness keeps your body strong and your mind sharp, exercise is as important for seniors as it is for anyone else. Thanks to gyms, group fitness classes, spas and other amenities, many senior living communities make health and wellness easy and fun.

SOCIAL EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES / Whatever you love —gardening, crafting, museums, shopping, theater, art, music, volunteerism—senior living communities often have social directors who dedicate themselves to creating organized opportunities for you to enjoy your favorite hobbies and interests, and to discover new ones. Plus, their very nature means communities lend themselves to impromptu social engagements like outdoor walks, card games and coffee dates. The genuine friendships that can be hard to build elsewhere are therefore easy to cultivate in senior living communities, which ensures a life that’s as rich with relationships as it is with experiences.

TRANSPORTATION / Driving becomes more difficult and dangerous with age, which often limits seniors’ mobility. Because many of them offer scheduled and on-demand transportation to activities, entertainment and appointments, senior living communities make it possible for you to stay connected to the larger community—even after you decide to retire your car keys.

MEDICAL SERVICES / From routine needs like medication management and blood pressure monitoring to emergency services in the event of a serious accident or illness, many senior living communities offer onsite medical care that gives residents both protection and peace of mind. Many even offer memory care and 24-hour skilled nursing for seniors who need them.

SECURITY AND SUPERVISION / Older adults may feel vulnerable to crime and other misdeeds. In communities that offer them, security services can therefore be a significant comfort. And for seniors with special needs, like those receiving Alzheimer’s care or dementia care, so can the protective supervision of staff who are attuned to their unique needs and risks.

MANAGEABLE EXPENSES / Although price points and cost structures vary from community to community and from region to region, many senior living communities offer flexible pricing that simplifies and solidifies seniors’ finances so they can keep their retirement plan on track. Many communities, for example, charge a base rate that’s determined by the size and type of one’s residence, which includes access to services like dining and social activities. Health care costs are billed separately, with tiered options based on different levels of care. The result is an experience that’s tailored not only to your goals and lifestyle, but also to your budget.

Now What?

Make no mistake: You have a big choice in front of you. Along with your wishes for retirement and your fears about it, there are practical considerations like cost—which isn’t as straightforward as it seems. If you’re thinking about aging in place, for example, you might own your home outright, in which case you have no mortgage payment. But what happens when your roof needs to be replaced, or your basement floods? With a senior living community, on the other hand, there are rent payments to make, but they are consistent, predictable, and oftentimes inclusive of meals, maintenance, and other variable expenses.

Because it’s apples and oranges, making the best possible decision for your future requires more than comparing price tags—i.e., what you pay. Also, it requires comparing value—i.e., what you get. When you think about it that way, some of the blurriest aspects of retirement planning finally come into focus.

What are your options? Find out these and many other benefits of a senior living community in our guide “It’s Your Time: How Senior Living Can Make Your Golden Years Golden.”

Can Senior Living Provide You a Fearless Future?

Aging can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. But it can also be extremely scary.

Remember when you were young? You probably assumed that your hair would never be gray, that your knees would never ache, that your vision would never blur and that your energy would never wane. Now you know better. It makes you wonder: What are you currently taking for granted? What needs might you have tomorrow about which you are in denial today?

Aging can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. But it also can be extremely scary. As you plan your next chapter, it’s therefore important to acknowledge your greatest fears and lay plans that will help you manage and mitigate their impact on your retirement years. Common worries include:

FINANCIAL INSECURITY Even seniors who have been diligent about saving and prudent about spending worry that they might run out of money, or that they may not have enough of it to have the kind of retirement they want to have.

DECLINING HEALTH With age, even the healthiest bodies become more susceptible to illness and injury, including everything from accidents and falls to chronic illness. That’s normal—and so is worrying about your health and health care, the status of which can change quickly and dramatically over the course of your retirement years.

FAILING MEMORY Because the prospect of cognitive decline can be as worrisome as the prospect of physical decline, memory care—including dementia care and Alzheimer’s care—is top of mind for many seniors.

LOSS OF INDEPENDENCE You spent your youth learning how to be independent. In that way, adulthood was a destination; once you arrived, you never imagined you’d have to go back. It’s no wonder, then, that the idea of losing one’s autonomy can be just as upsetting as the idea of losing one’s faculties.

BECOMING A BURDEN From your spouse and children to your aging parents and grandparents, you’ve devoted your life to caring for others. Now, you’re facing the prospect that others might have to care for you. But what if there’s no one to do it? Or worse yet, what if there is? You know from being a caretaker yourself how much time and energy it takes to care for someone who can’t care for themselves. It’s all-consuming. So, while having no one to care for you is a scary proposition, the idea of asking loved ones to be responsible for you can be its own source of dread.

SOCIAL ISOLATION With aging often comes loss, including the loss of spouses, family members and friends. Sometimes, loved ones are lost to death. Other times, they’re lost to circumstances—for example, you might not be as mobile as you used to be, or as energetic, which causes you to see people less often. Either way, isolation and loneliness for seniors are real possibilities and legitimate concerns.

Although you should hope for the best, you should plan for the worst. A senior living community is flexible enough to accommodate both scenarios, not to mention countless possibilities in between.

What are your options? Find out these and many other surprising benefits of a senior living community in our guide “It’s Your Time: How Senior Living Can Make Your Golden Years Golden.”

You’ve Waited Your Whole Life for This Moment

Learn how the benefits of a senior living community can help you seize the day.

What’s Important to You

Before you decide where you want to spend your senior years, you should decide how you want to spend them. Step one is setting your priorities.

When they contemplate life in a retirement community, most people imagine a place. But senior living is so much more than housing. Really, it’s a lifestyle.

WHAT YOU WANT: FREEDOM, FUN, FULFILLMENT

Although no two seniors are exactly alike, older adults who are envisioning and planning their golden years consistently say it’s important to them that they have:

FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY Self-confidence born of self-reliance. The sovereignty to make your own choices, and to do things for yourself. The ability—and mobility—to go where you want, when you want. Privacy and the pursuit of happiness. Whatever it means to you, independence often tops the list of seniors’ priorities as they age.

PASSIONS AND PURPOSE Retirement looks different for everyone. Some seniors want to continue working, or to start their own business. Some want to enrich their lives with volunteer work. Still others want to travel, or to spend their days indulging lifelong interests and brand- new hobbies—cooking, painting, dancing, knitting, yoga, gardening.

What almost everyone has in common, however, is the desire to feel connected to and engaged in activities that fulfill them.

MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS Having people can be just as important as having passions. Oftentimes, more so. Whether you want to be close to cherished family members and friends, surrounded by neighbors and community, or plugged into activities that spawn new relationships with like- minded souls, it’s important to think about your ability to maintain an active and enjoyable social life that fills your days with companionship and fun.

If these resonate with your own goals, it’s worth considering how different retirement scenarios might affect them. Aging in place might give you more autonomy, for example, but at the expense of your social life. Or perhaps you have rich friendships with your current neighbors, but the state of your home threatens your independence. Whatever your situation, you must set your priorities and calibrate your future plans accordingly.

When you do, you might discover the opposite of what you expected— that a senior living  community will enhance your life, not limit it.

Whether you’re curious, skeptical, or sold, discover the many surprising benefits of a senior living community in our guide “It’s Your Time: How Senior Living Can Make Your Golden Years Golden.”

It’s Your Time: Senior living – emphasis on living.

You’ve waited your whole life for this moment. Learn how the benefits of a senior living community can help you seize the day.

Senior Living – Emphasis on LIVING.

Every person, memory, and experience represent a new foothold on your way to a summit that used to feel so distant but now feels inexplicably nearby.

You may not fancy yourself a mountaineer. But if you’ve reached retirement age, you’ve done your fair share of climbing. Just think of the good kids you raised, the hard jobs you worked or the happy home you made. The friendships you forged, and the loved ones you lost. The trips you took, and the lessons you learned. The sights you’ve seen, the places you’ve lived and all the great stories you’ve collected along the way. Every person, memory and experience represent a new foothold on your way to a summit that used to feel so distant but now feels inexplicably near.

Now that you’re scaling the face of one last rock, reaching triumphantly for the top, you’ve probably noticed two thoughts occupying your head. The first is a statement: “Congratulations; you made it.” The second, a question: “Now what?”

There’s no simple answer to the latter. There are only choices. Lots of them, in fact. Most require more climbing amid an endless outcrop of crags. Only one affords you the luxury of resting every day in the foreground of a spectacular view: a senior living community.

When you outsource life’s challenges, you create more time, space, and energy for life’s pleasures.

Senior living communities aren’t what you think they are. They are not nursing homes, for example. A nursing home is an end. A senior living community, on the other hand, is a means. In the right senior living community, you can receive as much assistance as you want or as little. The assistance can be medical, domestic, or even just social. What’s important is that it’s there when you need it—which ensures an ample supply of something else you expect in retirement: independence. It’s senior living with an emphasis on the “living.” Because when you outsource life’s challenges, you create more time, space and energy for life’s pleasures. And isn’t that why you put so much energy into climbing in the first place?

Whether you’re curious, skeptical, or sold, discover the many surprising benefits of a senior living community in our guide “It’s Your Time: How Senior Living Can Make Your Golden Years Golden.”

SafelyYou Ai Video Technology Comes to Claiborne

Claiborne Senior Living is pleased to announce its partnership with SafelyYou, the leader in empowering safer, more person-centered dementia care through real-time AI video technology and 24/7 remote clinical experts in two of their communities.

Claiborne is the inaugural senior living provider offering the SafelyYou technology in the both Georgia and Louisiana. With today’s news, the memory care at these communities now have access to SafelyYou’s world-leading technology, which offers a new standard of care that addresses fall events and provides peace of mind for families at Claiborne in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Martinez, Georgia location.

The adoption of SafelyYou’s technology demonstrates Claiborne’s commitment to providing innovative solutions for its residents and families. The partnership also highlights SafelyYou’s momentum in driving enhanced outcomes through innovation, which is the new standard for meeting the needs of senior care today.

“We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with SafelyYou, reaffirming our commitment to setting the standard for senior care and memory support in the our market areas,” said Tim Dunne, CEO and President of Claiborne Senior Living. “Innovation isn’t just a buzzword for us – it’s a vital part of how we will elevate the quality of life for our residents and their families. With SafelyYou, we are helping to transform the future of dementia care today.”

About SafelyYou:

SafelyYou, established in 2015 through CEO George Netscher’s doctoral research and inspired by his family’s personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease, emerged from UC Berkeley’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, renowned as one of the world’s top five AI research groups. SafelyYou’s passionate mission is to empower safer, person-centered dementia care through state-of-the-art AI video technology and 24/7 remote clinical experts. The company’s innovative solutions are embraced by skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities throughout North America, ranging from national organizations to regional and local providers. SafelyYou is one of the five most innovative fall technologies referenced in the Senate Falls Report (2019).https://safely-you.com/

How to Budget for Senior Living

You don’t have to be rich to find enrichment in a senior living community. You just have to be prepared.

A senior living community is an expense. But it is also an investment.

YOUR BEST INVESTMENT IS YOURSELF.

Financially speaking, adulthood is all about saving for the future. Wherever you put your money—stocks and bonds, a high-interest savings account, a tax-advantaged retirement vehicle, real estate or an ill-advised shoebox under your bed—you probably put it there for a singular purpose: so that you’d have it someday when you needed it. What you might not realize, however, is that “someday” is today.

Not tomorrow. Not eventually. Not sooner or later. But now. Because if not now, when?

If you or a loved one is approaching retirement age, or have reached it already, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to decide what you want your golden years to look like, and to set in motion the well-laid plans that will help you make your dreams and goals a reality. Not tomorrow. Not eventually. Not sooner or later. But now. Because if not now, when?

That’s not to say that cashing in your chips is easy. It isn’t. If you’re like most seniors, you probably feel like you don’t have enough. Saving your money makes you feel secure. Spending it makes you feel anxious. If your retirement goals involve moving to a senior living community, however, you should know that what initially looks like spending your money is actually re-investing it. Like a bank that’s loaning capital to a small business, you’re funding your future in exchange for a promising return.

Only your return isn’t principal and interest; it’s health and happiness.

Aging in place can be deceptively expensive whereas senior living communities can be surprisingly affordable.

There can be financial returns, too. Although the costs often are incremental and therefore less obvious, aging in place can be deceptively expensive whereas senior living communities can be surprisingly affordable.

Especially today. Thanks to a “retirement renaissance,” senior housing has proliferated. Forget the nursing home of decades past. Today, there’s an unprecedented array of choices for seniors who want to live their best lives, regardless of their age, health status, retirement income or budget.

To find a senior living community that meets your needs without exceeding your means, you’ll need to understand the costs involved, then investigate what assets and options you have available. Here’s the good news: There are more assets and options available than you probably realize. Once you have a sense for them, what once felt extremely daunting might suddenly feel entirely doable.

First, make a budget. Step one is determining what you have and what you need.

No matter what kind of senior living community you want to live in—a retirement community with independent living, an assisted living community or a memory care community that offers Alzheimer’s and dementia care—the first thing you need to do is determine what it will cost you to live there.

The sales counselors at prospective communities can help you estimate your costs. Depending on the community, for example, you’ll have to pay either monthly rent or a larger entry fee that’s akin to the down payment on a house. You’ll also have to consider ongoing expenses like meals, utilities, home maintenance, housekeeping, transportation and entertainment, which communities may or may not offer in exchange for a monthly service fee. And don’t forget health care, including medical needs you have now and those you might have in the future.

It’s a good idea to take inventory of what resources you have to help you cover the costs.

Once you have a grip on how much money you’ll need to live in a senior living community, it’s a good idea to take inventory of what resources you have to help you cover the costs. This includes not only savings and income—Social Security and pensions, for example—but also assets like your home, vehicle, investments and even valuables like art, antiques, jewelry and collectibles. Some of your assets might be liquid while others might take more time and effort to convert into cash. Talking to a financial advisor can help you understand what money you have and how to best access it for purposes of funding senior housing.

Your timeline should figure prominently. Do you want to move immediately or a few years down the line? Understanding when you will need money is just as important to your calculations as understanding how much you’ll need.

Although you should discuss things with your financial advisor and with the sales counselors at communities you’re considering, view our list of ways to make senior living affordable and frequently asked questions in our guide: “Because You’re Worth It: Your Guide to Financing Senior Living.”

Embracing Change: How to Talk to Your Family About Senior Living

A Claiborne Senior Living Guide
Deciding to move into a senior living community has implications not only for you, but also for your family. Here’s how to talk it out in a way that’s both sensible and sensitive.

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Is It Time for Senior Living?

The decision is yours–but making it is easier when your family supports you.

Smiling senior woman with glasses portrait.

For many seniors, older adulthood eventually brings with it an “aha”moment. It could be early in the morning at the kitchen table, when you’re sipping hot coffee in an empty house that was made for six instead of two. It might be when you find yourself getting winded carrying laundry up the stairs, or when your spouse slips in the shower and nearly breaks a bone. Or maybe it will come on a Saturday night, wishing you were engaged in a boisterous game of canasta with friends instead of nodding off yet again in front of the television. Whenever and wherever it appears, what you’ll probably think to yourself when it comes is, “Maybe it’s time for a change.”

Aging isn’t the end of the road.
Rather, it’s the beginning
of a new one.

And maybe it is. By the time you reach retirement age, the children you spent your adult life raising are grown. The friends with whom you made your favorite memories have moved on. The hobbies you used to enjoy are no longer fulfilling. And even the most routine household chores have become a lot harder to do.

But aging isn’t the end of the road. Rather, it’s the beginning of a new one. When it’s no longer serving you, letting go of the lifestyle you had can make room for the lifestyle you want.

Senior Couple with Yoga Mats

Whatever it entails—time with family, traveling, yoga, gardening or golf, to name just a few of the infinite possibilities—that lifestyle might become more attainable by moving to a senior living community. There, in a home that’s made for aging, surrounded by useful services, attractive amenities and scores of new friends, your next chapter can be simpler, safer and more satisfying.

Even so, the decision to embrace senior housing is as difficult as it is big. For that reason, it can be helpful to have the support of loved ones as you make it. But family members’ support doesn’t always come easy. What feels practical, prudent and preferable to you might seem sudden, impulsive and ill-considered to them. This is particularly true in the case of adult children, for whom parents’ aging can be especially impactful from a social, emotional and even financial point of view.

Still, it’s important to talk. Whether your loved ones are welcoming of the idea or wary of it, discussing your future in a senior living community can bring parents, children and siblings closer together in ways that benefit the entire family for years to come—that is, as long as you approach the conversation in ways that are caring, considerate and informed. Using this guide to plan your discussion will ensure that you do.

Mother daughter laughing together on a couch
magnolia flower

Before The Talk

Coffee, glasses, and to-do list resting on a table.

Think Before You Speak

Making a plan will help the conversation go smoothly.

If you’re thinking about moving to a senior living community, you’re probably waiting for “the right time” to broach the subject with your adult children and other family members. Unfortunately, rarely is there ever an ideal time to have a difficult chat. Instead of waiting for a conversational door to magically appear, a better approach is to build the door yourself. And that takes planning. Here are four things you should do to prepare:

Senior women looking at a smartphone together.

1. Understand Your Options.

When you tell your family that you want to move into a senior living community, what they might hear from you is, “I’m ready to go to a nursing home.” But senior living communities aren’t nursing homes. Senior housing today encompasses a diverse menu of safe, comfortable and dignified choices that allow seniors to live as independently as they want to, with as much—or as little—assistance as they need.

Before you discuss senior living with your family, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what those choices are so that you can explain to your loved ones what your plan entails and how it will help you achieve the medical, emotional, social and/or financial goals that you have set for yourself. In particular, you’ll want to understand the difference between the following types of communities:

INDEPENDENT LIVING COMMUNITIES

Comprising age-restricted neighborhoods or campuses of apartments, condominiums or even single-family homes, independent living communities are designed for self-sufficient seniors who want to be part of a community while also maintaining their independence and privacy. Amenities like dining services, housekeeping, home maintenance and organized activities can ease the burdens of senior living without threatening seniors’ autonomy.

ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES

Like independent living communities, assisted living communities offer residences and amenities that make life easier and safer for the seniors who live in them. For the older adult who needs it, they offer baked-in assistance with daily activities like medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation.

MEMORY CARE COMMUNITIES

Memory care communities offer assisted living for seniors with cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Because Alzheimer’s and dementia care can present unique challenges, they feature staff, services and social activities that are tailored to residents’ special needs.

SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES

Skilled nursing facilities offer 24-hour supervised care for seniors who have severe physical or cognitive illnesses that make them dependent on others for even the most basic aspects of daily living.

LIFE PLAN COMMUNITIES

Also known as continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, life plan communities are designed to be dynamic and flexible by offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing all in the same place. In so doing, they allow seniors to live out their retirement in the same community—safe, secure and stable—no matter how their needs might change as they age.

Group of senior men drinking beer in a park

2. Clarify Your Goals And Wishes.

Even if you do a good job explaining what modern senior living communities look like, your family members might have a hard time seeing past negative stereotypes and emotional assumptions. For that reason, it’s important that you be able to express not only where you want to spend your golden years, but also why you want to spend them there. Here are a few of the most common reasons that seniors give for moving into a senior living community. Before you speak to your family, think about which ones resonate most with you.

SAFETY

When they think about retirement, most people assume they will want to age in place. When their body stops working the way it used to, however, reality often sets in. When that happens, seniors often realize that aging in place can come with significant risks, including falls—the leading cause of injury among adults 65 and older thanks to their limited mobility—decreased eyesight and increased fragility. For older adults, even minor falls sustained doing routine household chores can have major implications, including broken bones and fractures, head injuries, permanent disability and even death.

Senior living communities often have accessible residences that are designed for seniors’ safety, as well as amenities like meal service and housekeeping that preclude seniors from having to perform potentially dangerous household chores.

Senior people in a fitness class

Health and Wellness

Even if you manage to avoid falling, you’ll still be prone to medical emergencies. What happens if you have a heart attack, for instance, or a stroke? What if you mix up your medications, or have an allergic reaction? And what about diet and fitness? Malnourishment and muscle loss can be common in seniors, many of whom stop shopping, eating and exercising when it becomes more difficult for them to drive and walk.

Certain types of senior housing, like assisted living communities, have medical personnel onsite who can assist in the event of a medical emergency. Many have meal services that ensure proper nutrition, and most offer amenities and activities to help residents stay active and fit.

Financial Security

Money is a common concern for seniors, many of whom live on a fixed income. If you were to experience a financial emergency, would you be OK? A medical event, for example, could be just as hurtful to your wealth as it is to your health. A home disaster, such as a broken furnace or flooded basement, could be equally disruptive. And then there are financial fraudsters, for whom seniors are often easy prey. Even something as routine as paying bills can become problematic for older adults, whose failing eyesight and limited technological expertise could lead to missed or mispaid bills, which in turn can lead to cancellation or interruption of critical services.

Senior living communities offer stable and predictable expenses, which makes financial planning and management simple. Plus, many communities offer tiered services that can flex to fit any budget.

Happy senior friends toasting with white wine on the beach

Socialization

As they age, seniors often see less of friends and peers. Some of them retire to distant places. Some become ill or disabled. Some become isolated due to lack of mobility. Still others pass away. Meanwhile, grown children who used to consume so much of their time become busy with careers and families of their own. The cumulative effect for many older adults is a smaller social circle that can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Senior living communities are designed with socialization in mind, offering ample opportunity to participate in organized activities as well as impromptu social engagements.

Support

When friends and family are absent, it’s not just seniors’ social lives that suffer. It’s also their support system. Suddenly, they have no one to check in on them to make sure they’re OK. That can have consequences not only for their mental health, but also for their physical well-being. For example, imagine a natural disaster; in the event of a major tornado, blizzard, earthquake or hurricane, who would make sure you had food, water and heat, or helped you evacuate if it was no longer safe to shelter in place?

Senior living communities have built-in support in the form of neighbors and friends, as well as professional staff. Most communities have essential goods, emergency systems and well-considered preparedness plans they can quickly execute should a major event occur.

Senior couple playing Jenga.

Mental Acuity

Aging doesn’t just impact the body. It also impacts the mind. In particular, memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can create its own kinds of safety concerns. Seniors with cognitive illness, for example, may be prone to wandering and might endanger themselves with simple acts of absentmindedness, like leaving a hot stove unattended.

Many senior living communities offer memory care services that are designed especially for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

While you’re contemplating how you can benefit from living in a senior living community, consider how your family can benefit as well. If you decide to age in place, at some point you’ll likely need increased support and supervision from your adult children or other relatives, each of whom has their own family, job and other responsibilities to tend to. Will your loved ones have the time to be a full- or even part-time caregiver? To help on a routine basis with groceries and household chores? What about the social and emotional bandwidth that caregiving requires? A senior living community can help you maintain the treasured roles and relationships you have—parent and child, for instance, instead of caregiver and dependent.

Woman typing on a computer at a desk.

3. Prepare An Outline.

When it comes to something as sensitive as aging, it may feel most natural to speak from the heart. And you should, because sincerity is important. It’s also important, however, to be prepared, organized and cogent. If you leave your remarks to chance, you might forget to say something important, and could end up meandering in ways that make your decision appear hasty and ill-conceived.

To come off as both authentic and informed, prepare a loose agenda or outline prior to speaking with your family members—something that you can consult as you talk, but which you won’t read verbatim. Because talks about senior housing can be extremely emotional and stressful, writing down the things you want to say and the points you want to make can ensure that conversations are focused, rational and productive, but also genuine and heartfelt.

4. Anticipate Questions

Remember that conversation is by nature a two-way street. While it’s important to prepare what you want to say, it’s just as critical that you be ready to hear your family members’ response. They’ll have feelings to share, but also questions to ask. Lots and lots of questions. If you already have a senior living community in mind, for example, they might want to know the size and setup of the residences, what the monthly rent will be, whether meals are provided, what other services are and aren’t included, and whether Medicare or Medicaid will help with the costs. As much as you can, try to anticipate what questions they will have, and to prepare answers to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Having brochures and other literature available to share also can be helpful.

Senior man and his daughter researching on a laptop.
magnolia flower

The Talk

Women drinking hot beverages in white mugs.

A Fruitful Family Meeting

Empathy and earnestness are the keys to constructive conversation.

Ultimately, all your planning and preparation are groundwork for a single moment: convening a family meeting to finally announce your senior-living wishes. Like other family meetings you may have had over the years, the ensuing conversation might be unsettling and uncomfortable. But it’s also really important. Keeping in mind the following advice will ensure that everyone feels heard so you can build your future with the support of a family that’s united instead of divided.

Senior women with family at the dinner table outdoors

1. Make A Date.

When, where and how you have the talk can be just as important as what you say. The first thing you should do is to arrange having the conversation at a time and place that’s convenient for your loved ones. Instead of blindsiding them over dinner in a public restaurant, for example, tell them ahead of time that you’d like to have a serious conversation, then let them decide where they’d like to have it. That gives them time to prepare themselves, and makes them feel like they have agency in the discussion they’re about to have with you.

2. Break The Ice.

Starting the discussion often is the most difficult part of it. To get things off on the right foot, consider different ways to break the ice. For instance, you could:

Emphasize Your Desires

Your family doesn’t want to deprive you of things that will bring you joy, so that can be a good place to start. Maybe you’ve always dreamed about traveling, for example. Maybe you love to garden, but don’t have the space to do it at home. Or maybe you’re really excited by the prospect of making new friends. Whatever it is, focusing on what you will gain by moving to a senior living community can be an effective way to build support and enthusiasm for the idea.

Acknowledge Obstacles

Have you had health scares or memory problems? Are you having a hard time doing housework or grocery shopping? Are you lonely or isolated? Instead of pretending that everything is fine, consider admitting to your family that you are facing new challenges as you age. When they’re confronted with the reality of your situation, family members may be more receptive to the idea of a senior living community as a practical solution to real problems.

Share Success Stories

As previously mentioned, family members may have false impressions and negative stereotypes about what a senior living community is. A good way to dispel myths and rally support is to share positive anecdotes from friends and relatives who have already made the transition to senior living—particularly those your family members know, like a cousin your adult children remember from family reunions, or a close family friend who they always looked up to.

Focus On The Family

Although it’s your future, there undoubtedly are implications for your family members, too. Focusing on how senior living will improve their lives as much as it will improve yours can be persuasive. If your adult daughter just started her medical residency, for example, she might appreciate knowing that she can focus on her budding career without having to worry about whether you’re taken care of. If your adult son has young kids, he might be excited to know that the senior living community you’re looking at has a community swimming pool where grandkids are welcome on family days. Or perhaps your children live in a cold climate and would jump at the opportunity to have a warm place to visit in the winter.

Senior man in a hot tub.

3. Underscore Your Independence.

If your family is concerned about your decision, it could be because they imagine senior living communities as places where seniors live sedentary lifestyles inside cloistered facilities. The refreshing reality—that many senior living communities not only encourage active, independent living, but actually make it safer and more feasible—can be eye-opening for adult children and others who are skeptical.

4. Make It Clear: This Isn’t Personal.

Adult children in particular might take it personally when you tell them that you want to live in senior housing. They might have imagined, for example, that you would eventually move in with them when you needed extra support. Or maybe you already do live with them, in which case they might feel hurt that you have decided you’d be happier elsewhere. In the case of assisted living communities, adult children might also have a hard time entrusting your well-being to others, insisting that no one will be able to give you the same level of care and love that they can give. If you sense that your loved ones feel wounded by your wishes, the best thing you can do is reiterate your motivations and reassure them that your choice has nothing to do with them. They didn’t do anything wrong or push you away; rather, you’re simply ready to pursue new goals in a new environment.

Grandparents hugging their granddaughter

5. Embrace Empathy.

Even if your family doesn’t take your decision personally, they might have other objections. For example, perhaps your adult children were counting on you for childcare that you’ll no longer be able to provide. Maybe they’re worried that your decision will have financial implications for them—that they will have to help you cover the costs of senior living, for example, or that you will spend their inheritance on rent. Or perhaps your aging simply makes them feel insecure about their own advancing years.Whatever they are, their concerns are real, even if you don’t believe them to be valid. For that reason, the most important thing you can bring to your conversation with family is empathy. Change is hard to process, and aging is emotional. Before you become defensive or combative, try to put yourself in your family’s shoes. Remain calm, honest and rational, even if they cannot. If you can be continually aware of their concerns and unflinchingly respectful of their feelings, cooler heads eventually will prevail.

6. Practice Active Listening.

Remember, this is supposed to be a conversation. That means not just talking, but also listening. Often, family members who have objections or concerns simply want to be heard as they process the new choices and challenges that you’re facing. You can do your part to help them through it by being silent and attentive, by not interrupting, by withholding judgment, by asking insightful questions and by repeating their points back to them so they know you understood them.

White foliage and greenery
magnolia flower

After The Talk

Senior women celebrating with champagne.

Next Steps

You’ve started the conversation; now, you’ve got to keep it going.

Keep in mind that the senior-living conversation is rarely a single conversation. More often, it’s a series of progressive conversations that take place over time. If you don’t get the accord you were seeking right away, that’s OK. If you continue to make and repeat your points, your family eventually will hear you out. 

As the conversation continues, there are things you can do to move the needle in a positive direction. For example:

Meet with a financial advisor

Money can be one of the biggest concerns for family members who are skeptical of senior housing. Although they want to support you emotionally, they worry whether they will be able to support you financially. Meeting with a financial advisor can help you and your loved ones understand what resources you need, what resources you have and what might be required to fill the gap between them if there is one. Importantly, a financial advisor also can help you compare the costs of living in a senior living community to the costs of aging in place. When you consider the money you might spend over time on home maintenance, in-home healthcare and other expenses, the latter isn’t always as affordable as it seems.

Take A Tour

Talking about a senior living community is one thing. Actually seeing a community is something else entirely. If you’re still trying to decide on a community, invite your family members to join you on tours. And if you’ve already chosen a community, schedule a time to visit it with them. Although they may still have reservations, family members often end up excited for you when they see firsthand what your life is going to look like and the ways in which it might improve.

Delegate Duties and Decisions

Ultimately, where you want to live is your choice. Involving family members in the process, however, can make them feel important and engaged. That, in turn, can build buy-in. For instance, you could task adult children with helping you find potential communities to tour and explore. Or if you’ve already chosen a community, you could ask loved ones to help you do research about the area around it, or help execute your move by hiring movers, organizing a garage sale or planning a housewarming party.


Wherever you choose to spend the next phase of your life, the change is bound to be both scary and exciting. You don’t have to do it alone. Your family and friends can be thereto help you, to provide support and cheer you on. First, though, you have to invite them in. There might be conflict along the way, but in the end you’ll be glad that you did.

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How to Pay for Senior Living

Because You’re Worth It: Your Guide to Financing Senior Living

You don’t have to be rich to find enrichment in a senior living community. You just have to be prepared.

A senior living community is an expense. But it is also an investment.

Your Best Investment is Yourself

At first glance, the cost of senior housing can feel overwhelming. Like every investment you’ve ever made, however—your first home when it was time to start a family, the new car you couldn’t wait to drive, the dream vacation you’ll always remember—the price tag on a senior living community tells only part of the story. Just as important as the cost is the benefit. Because you’re not just spending money. You’re getting something in return. And what you’re getting isn’t merely a place to live. It’s health and happiness. It’s independence and autonomy. It’s safety and security. It’s community and comfort. More than anything, though, it’s a future. And isn’t that what you’ve been saving for all along?

When you take a thorough look at the resources you have and the life you’ll be able to live, you might realize that a senior living community is more attractive, attainable and affordable than you imagined.

Making Aging Affordable

There are more ways than you think to fill the gaps.

Once you’ve established a budget (see Building Your Budget), you may discover a shortfall between what you have and what you need. Don’t fret! There are myriad ways to finance your move to a senior living community.

REAL ESTATE:  If you own your home, it’s probably your biggest asset. That means it might also be your easiest ticket to a senior living community.

Proceeds from a home sale may cover all or most of the entry fee at a senior living community that charges one.

If you have enough equity, you might consider selling your home outright, in which case you’ll basically be exchanging one home for another. In fact, proceeds from a home sale may cover all or most of the entry fee at a senior living community that charges one. And the money you’ll save on real estate taxes and future home repairs can be directed instead toward monthly service fees and various other daily living expenses.

Of course, home sales can take a while. If time is of the essence, a bridge loan might be helpful by giving you short-term capital with which to finance your move to a senior living while you wait for your home to sell; when it does, you can use the proceeds to repay the loan.

Of course, all of this assumes that you can sell your home quickly and for a fair price. If you can’t, there are other options. You might look into a reverse mortgage, for example, wherein you sell your home a little bit at a time back to the bank, which cuts you a monthly check in exchange for your returned equity. Or, if your home is in good shape and your local rental market is strong, you might consider renting your home until you’re ready to sell it. Although being a landlord can be quite onerous, a good property manager typically can do everything for you.

INSURANCE: If you have a life insurance policy that you no longer need, you may be able to sell it to a life settlement company in return for a lump sum that you can apply toward your entry fee at a senior living community or other senior housing costs. Although the company won’t purchase it for the policy’s full value, you typically can get more money than you otherwise would if you were to simply surrender the policy or allow it to lapse. Before you go this route, however, you should be certain that you want to give up your life insurance—you may not be able to qualify for a new policy if you decide later that you want one—and should be prepared to shop your policy around to different companies to ensure you’re getting a fair price.

Before you sell your life insurance, there are other options to consider. You should check with your insurer, for example, to find out whether you can borrow against your policy. If you’re ill, you might also be eligible for accelerated death benefits that cover the costs of a long- term, catastrophic or terminal illness while you’re still alive.

If you have long-term care insurance, that might also come into play. Depending on both the policy and your health status, you may be able to access benefits to help you pay for the cost of an assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing community.

VETERANS BENEFITS: If you or your spouse is a veteran who served in active duty during wartime, you may be able to receive a federal benefit known as the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Provided above and beyond a veteran’s regular pension, it can be used to cover your care in an assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing community.

If you or your spouse is a veteran who served in active duty during wartime, you may be able to receive the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit.

You may be eligible for this benefit if you receive a VA pension and meet at least one of these requirements:

  • You need another person to help you perform daily activities like bathing, feeding and dressing, or
  • You have to stay in bed or spend a large portion of the day in bed due to illness, or
  • You’re a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
  • Your eyesight is limited, even with glasses or contact lenses

If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a vet, it’s well worth your time to explore this option as a potential supplement to your other benefits and resources.

By now you can see that there are numerous financial paths one can follow to put life in a senior living community within reach. But you and your bank account probably still have some questions. That’s normal. Discuss any lingering concerns with your financial advisor and with the sales counselors at communities you’re considering and view more frequently asked questions in “Because You’re Worth It: Your Guide to Financing Senior Living.”

Financing Senior Living FAQs

Because You’re Worth It: Frequently Asked Questions about Financing Senior Living

You don’t have to be rich to find enrichment in a senior living community. You just have to be prepared.

In your search to find senior housing – and pay for it – knowledge is power!

Frequently Asked Questions

There are numerous financial paths one can follow to put life in a senior living community within reach. But you and your bank account probably still have some questions. That’s normal. Although you should discuss any lingering concerns with your financial advisor and with the sales counselors at communities you’re considering, here are a few of seniors’ most common queries.

Will Medicare pay for a senior living community?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover most costs associated with living in a senior living community. One exception is skilled nursing: Medicare will pay 100 percent of the cost of care up to 20 days at a skilled nursing facility and approximately 80 percent of the cost up to 80 more days for qualified individuals. However, that care must be for recovery following an inpatient hospital stay.

Medicare doesn’t cover room and board or custodial (personal) care costs in assisted living communities, although some Medicare Advantage plans may pay for personal care assistance in assisted living or memory care (but not room and board).

Medicare also will pay for “medically necessary” care outside of a hospital, which means some medical services that may be offered at an assisted living or memory care community—physical or occupational therapy, for example, or diagnostic testing. That won’t eliminate all your senior housing expenses, but it might make a dent in them if you need a certain level of care.

What about Medicaid?

Although Medicare won’t pay for a senior living community, Medicaid might. Like Medicare, Medicaid in some states will pay for medically necessary care outside of a hospital setting, including some medical services that might be available at an assisted living or memory care community. In the case of memory care, Medicaid might also cover the larger costs of living in a community—provided that community has a Medicaid contract. Of course, you must be eligible for Medicaid in the first place, which means you must have a very low income and few assets.

I have the money now. But what if I run out of money later?

Policies vary from community to community and from circumstance to circumstance. Some communities are structured like apartment rentals, in which case nonpayment of rent will be a breach of your lease that leads to eviction.

Some senior living communities also offer benevolence programs and subsidies for qualifying residents.

Other communities—including many life care communities—offer contracts that guarantee lifetime residence; as long as you pay your entry fee, you’ll have a home there for life. Some senior living communities also offer benevolence programs and subsidies for qualifying residents, who may be able to continue receiving care if health care costs deplete their assets. Because communities vary, it’s important to ask what a community’s policies are before you sign a contract or lease.

How will senior housing affect my taxes?

You can’t talk money without talking taxes. Fortunately, moving to a senior living community might actually help your tax bill. That’s because residents of some communities may qualify for a substantial tax deduction. Specifically, residents of life care communities or other “entry fee retirement communities,” who may be able to deduct a portion of their entry fee as well as a portion of their monthly service fees—provided those fees qualify as a prepaid health care expense. Whether they do will depend on what type of contract you sign with a community. If you sign a life care contract, for example—which provides for your changing health care needs as you age—you almost certainly qualify for a tax break. If you sign a modified life care contract that provides for some but not all medical needs, you might still qualify for some deductions. And if you sign a fee-for-service contract, your deductions will be minimal.

If you move to a community that charges an entrance fee, that fee may be refundable.

Will I still be able to leave an inheritance for my loved ones?

If you move to a community that charges an entrance fee, that fee may be refundable up to a certain amount in the event of your death. A refundable entrance fee is typically higher than a non-refundable one but may provide reassurance for residents who wish to leave something behind for their loved ones.

Cost vs Benefit

At first glance, the cost of senior housing can feel overwhelming. Like every investment you’ve ever made, however—your first home when it was time to start a family, the new car you couldn’t wait to drive, the dream vacation you’ll always remember—the price tag on a senior living community tells only part of the story. Just as important as the cost is the benefit. Because you’re not just spending money. You’re getting something in return. And what you’re getting isn’t merely a place to live. It’s health and happiness. It’s independence and autonomy. It’s safety and security. It’s community and comfort. More than anything, though, it’s a future. And isn’t that what you’ve been saving for all along?

When you take a thorough look at the resources you have and the life you’ll be able to live, you might realize that a senior living community is more attractive, attainable and affordable than you imagined.

Check out “Because You’re Worth It:  Your Guide Financing Senior Living” to read more or reach out to our community for personal assistance.

It’s Your Time: How Senior Living Can Make Your Golden Years Golden

A Claiborne Senior Living Guide
You’ve waited your whole life for this moment. Learn how the benefits of a senior living community can help you seize the day.

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Senior Living —

Emphasis on the “Living”

Everest. K2. Kilimanjaro. Denali. Olympus. These are just a few of the world’s most famous peaks. For even the most experienced climbers, the journey to the top of them is a dangerous slog that pushes the limits of the mind and body. At the end of each ascent, however, awaits the most beautiful apex. The air is thin and the body tired. But in the presence of so much majesty—and so much accomplishment—the soul is full.

You may not fancy yourself a mountaineer. But if you’ve reached retirement age, you’ve done your fair share of climbing. Just think of the good kids you raised, the hard jobs you worked or the happy home you made. The friendships you forged, and the loved ones you lost. The trips you took, and the lessons you learned. The sights you’ve seen, the places you’ve lived and all the great stories you’ve collected along the way. Every person, memory and experience represents a new foothold on your way to a summit that used to feel so distant but now feels inexplicably near.

Now that you’re scaling the face of one last rock, reaching triumphantly for the top, you’ve probably noticed two thoughts occupying your head. The first is a statement: “Congratulations; you made it.” The second, a question: “Now what?”

Every person, memory and experience represents a new foothold on your way to a summit that used to feel so distant but now feels inexplicably near.

There’s no simple answer to the latter. There are only choices. Lots of them, in fact. Most require more climbing amid an endless outcrop of crags. Only one affords you the luxury of resting every day in the foreground of a spectacular view: a senior living community.

Senior living communities aren’t what you think they are. They are not nursing homes, for example. A nursing home is an end. A senior living community, on the other hand, is a means. In the right senior living community, you can receive as much assistance as you want or as little. The assistance can be medical, domestic or even just social. What’s important is that it’s there when you need it—which ensures an ample supply of something else you expect in retirement: independence. It’s senior living with an emphasis on the “living.” Because when you outsource life’s challenges, you create more time, space and energy for life’s pleasures. And isn’t that why you put so much energy into climbing in the first place?

Whether you’re curious, skeptical or sold, keep reading to discover the many surprising benefits of a senior living community


magnolia flower

When you outsource life’s challenges, you create more time, space and energy for life’s pleasures.

What’s Important To You?

When they contemplate life in a retirement community, most people imagine a place. But senior living is so much more than housing. Really, it’s a lifestyle. Before you decide where you want to spend your senior years, you should therefore decide how you want to spend them. Step one is setting your priorities.
What You Want: Freedom, Fun, Fulfillment

Although no two seniors are exactly alike, older adults who are envisioning and planning their golden years consistently say it’s important to them that they have:

Freedom and Autonomy

Self-confidence born of self-reliance. The sovereignty to make your own choices, and to do things for yourself. The ability—and mobility—to go where you want, when you want. Privacy and the pursuit of happiness. Whatever it means to you, independence often tops the list of seniors’ priorities as they age.

Passions and Purpose

Retirement looks different for everyone. Some seniors want to continue working, or to start their own business. Some want to enrich their lives with volunteer work. Still others want to travel, or to spend their days indulging lifelong interests and brandnew hobbies—cooking, painting, dancing, knitting, yoga, gardening. What almost everyone has in common, however, is the desire to feel connected to and engaged by activities that fulfill them.

Before you decide where you want to spend your senior years, you should decide how you want to spend them. Step one is setting your priorities.

Meaningful Relationships

Having people can be just as important as having passions. Oftentimes, more so. Whether you want to be close to cherished family members and friends, surrounded by neighbors and community, or plugged into activities that spawn new relationships with likeminded souls, it’s important to think about your ability to maintain an active and enjoyable social life that fills your days with companionship and fun.

If these resonate with your own goals, it’s worth considering how different retirement scenarios might affect them. Aging in place might give you more autonomy, for example, but at the expense of your social life. Or perhaps you have rich friendships with your current neighbors, but the state of your home threatens your independence. Whatever your situation, you must set your priorities and calibrate your future plans accordingly. When you do, you might discover the opposite of what you expected— that a senior living community will enhance your life, not limit it.

A Fearless Future

Remember when you were young? You probably assumed that your hair would never gray, that your knees would never ache, that your vision would never blur and that your energy would never wane. Now you know better. It makes you wonder: What are you currently taking for granted? What needs might you have tomorrow about which you are in denial today?

Aging can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. But it also can be extremely scary. As you plan your next chapter, it’s therefore important to acknowledge your greatest fears and lay plans that will help you manage and mitigate their impact on your retirement years. Common worries include:

Financial Security

Even seniors who have been diligent about saving and prudent about spending worry that they might run out of money, or that they may not have enough of it to have the kind of retirement they want to have.

Declining Health

With age, even the healthiest bodies become more susceptible to illness and injury, including everything from accidents and falls to chronic illness. That’s normal—and so is worrying about your health and health care, the status of which can change quickly and dramatically over the course of your retirement years.

Aging can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. But it also can be extremely scary.

Failing Memory

Because the prospect of cognitive decline can be as worrisome as the prospect of physical decline, memory care—including dementia care and Alzheimer’s care—is top of mind for many seniors.

Loss of Independence

You spent your youth learning how to be independent. In that way, adulthood was a destination; once you arrived, you never imagined you’d have to go back. It’s no wonder, then, that the idea of losing one’s autonomy can be just as upsetting as the idea of losing one’s faculties.

Becoming A Burden

From your spouse and children to your aging parents and grandparents, you’ve devoted your life to caring for others. Now, you’re facing the prospect that others might have to care for you. But what if there’s no one to do it? Or worse yet, what if there is? You know from being a caretaker yourself how much time and energy it takes to care for someone who can’t care for themselves. It’s all-consuming. So while having no one to care for you is a scary proposition, the idea of asking loved ones to be responsible for you can be its own source of dread.

Social Isolation

With aging often comes loss, including the loss of spouses, family members and friends. Sometimes, loved ones are lost to death. Other times, they’re lost to circumstances—for example, you might not be as mobile as you used to be, or as energetic, which causes you to see people less often. Either way, isolation and loneliness for seniors are real possibilities and legitimate concerns. Although you should hope for the best, you should plan for the worst. A senior living community is flexible enough to accommodate both scenarios, not to mention countless possibilities in between.

What Are Your Options?

Once you understand what you want life as an older adult to look like, you can begin searching for senior housing solutions that make your goals possible—not just today, but for years and decades to come.

  • Aging In Place

    For many people who are looking at senior living communities, the first choice is actually the absence of community. It’s easy to understand why. Aging in place—growing old either in your own home or in that of a family member—is familiar and comfortable, and on first glance might appear to be more affordable and dignified than other alternatives. On closer inspection, however, aging in place isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

    Consider home maintenance and health care, for instance. Over time, both become more urgent, but also more difficult for seniors to manage independently. As a result, seniors who age in place often need more help from family, friends, neighbors and service providers, be it a handyman to make critical home repairs and modifications (e.g., installing wheelchair ramps and bathroom grab bars) or an in-home nurse to assist with medical needs. The costs and inconvenience add up—and so do the safety risks, which threaten to disrupt even the best-laid plans.

    Even if your home is perfect, it’s easy to become over-reliant on family and friends. If not for help with home maintenance, then with transportation, housework, errands or entertainment. When you age in place, your network tends to be small, which can place an undue burden on the people you know and love—whether you realize it or not.

  • Independent Living

    Independent living communities might include age-restricted apartments, condominiums or single-family homes. Sometimes they look like a college campus, and other times like a residential neighborhood. In some cases, they even resemble small cities. In all cases, however, they’re designed for self-sufficient seniors who crave community with their peers, but also want to maintain an independent and autonomous lifestyle.

    In some cases, amenities like dining services, housekeeping, home maintenance and organized activities ease the burdens of senior living without being intrusive. Health care services, however, are minimal or non-existent, which makes independent living impractical for seniors who have or anticipate having significant medical needs.

  • Assisted Living

    Assisted living communities resemble independent living communities in important ways. They offer many of the same amenities, for example, which affords seniors ample amounts of community, convenience and independence. The main difference is the availability of onsite care for older adults who still want to be as autonomous as they can be — but nevertheless require a little extra help with daily activities like medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation.

  • Memory Care Communities

    Memory care communities are assisted living communities designed to accommodate seniors with special needs resulting from cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s and dementia care figure prominently, and communities typically have special security features—for example, alarmed exits in case residents wander or even monitoring technology that helps identify health declines or fall risk early—that are designed to keep residents safe. Even organized activities are designed with memory care in mind, with options like music and art therapy looming large.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities

    Skilled nursing facilities provide 24-hour supervised care for older adults who have severe physical or cognitive illnesses that make it difficult—and often impossible—for them to remain self-sufficient. Although medical care is of primary concern, amenities and activities remain important in order to give residents the comfortable, active, sociable life they want in their later years, regardless of their physical and mental abilities.
  • Life Plan Communities

    Life plan communities—also known as continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs—are designed to accommodate seniors as their needs change over time. They typically offer independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing all within the same community so that older adults can live out their retirement in one place and with one plan, knowing that they will remain comfortable and cared for no matter what the future brings.

Better Living Through
a Better Lifestyle

In case the benefits of senior living communities still are not clear, consider the many services and amenities that might be available to you:

Meal Services

Although residences may have kitchenettes or even
full kitchens, many communities also offer chef-prepared meals in onsite restaurants or dining rooms. This not only frees you from the obligation of shopping and cooking, but also ensures that you have the nutrition you need to maintain your health and wellness as you age.

Housekeeping

As you get older, routine tasks like cleaning and laundry can become not only cumbersome and uncomfortable, but also dangerous. Falling on a wet floor, for example, or lugging a heavy laundry basket could lead to serious injury. A community that offers housekeeping services can therefore be a lifesaver—both figuratively and literally.

Home Maintenance

You should spend your retirement holding winning bridge hands and yoga poses, not hammers and hedge trimmers. Whether you’re used to DIY or hired help, communities that offer home maintenance services free you from the hassle, expense and safety risks of home repairs and yardwork so you can spend your time, money and energy on hobbies instead of chores.

Although residences may have kitchenettes or even full kitchens, many communities also offer chef-prepared meals in onsite restaurants or dining rooms.

Exercise and Fitness Programs

Because fitness keeps your body strong and your mind sharp, exercise is as important for seniors as it is for anyone else. Thanks to gyms, group fitness classes, spas and other amenities, many senior living communities make health and wellness easy and fun.

Social Events and Activities

Whatever you love —gardening, crafting, museums, shopping, theater, art, music, volunteerism—senior living communities often have social directors who dedicate themselves to creating organized opportunities for you to enjoy your favorite hobbies and interests, and to discover new ones. Plus, their very nature means communities lend themselves to impromptu social engagements like outdoor walks, card games and coffee dates. The genuine friendships that can be hard to build elsewhere are therefore easy to cultivate in senior living communities, which ensures a life that’s as rich with relationships as it is with experiences.

Transportation

Driving becomes more difficult and dangerous with age, which often limits seniors’ mobility. Because many of them offer scheduled and on-demand transportation to activities, entertainment and appointments, senior living communities make it possible for you to stay connected to the larger community—even after you decide to retire your car keys.

Medical Services

From routine needs like medication management and blood pressure monitoring to emergency services in the event of a serious accident or illness, many senior living communities offer onsite medical care that gives residents both protection and peace of mind. Many even offer memory care and 24-hour skilled nursing for seniors who need them.

Security and Supervision

Older adults may feel vulnerable to crime and other misdeeds. In communities that offer them, security services can therefore be a significant comfort. And for seniors with special needs, like those receiving Alzheimer’s care or dementia care, so can the protective supervision of staff who are attuned to their unique needs and risks.

Manageable Expenses

Although price points and cost structures vary from community to community and from region to region, many senior living communities offer flexible pricing that simplifies and solidifies seniors’ finances so they can keep their retirement plan on track. Many communities, for example, charge a base rate that’s determined by the size and type of one’s residence, which includes access to services like dining and social activities. Health care costs are billed separately, with tiered options based on different levels of care. The result is an experience that’s tailored not only to your goals and lifestyle, but also to your budget.

Now What?

Make no mistake: You have a big choice in front of you. Along with your wishes for retirement and your fears about it, there are practical considerations like cost—which isn’t as straightforward as it seems. If you’re thinking about aging in place, for example, you might own your home outright, in which case you have no mortgage payment. But what happens when your roof needs to be replaced, or your basement floods? With a senior living community, on the other hand, there are rent payments to make, but they are consistent, predictable and oftentimes inclusive of meals, maintenance and other variable expenses.

Because it’s apples and oranges, making the best possible decision for your future requires more than comparing price tags—i.e., what you pay. Also, it requires comparing value—i.e., what you get. When you think about it that way, some of the blurriest aspects of retirement planning finally come into focus.

Again, mountain climbing comes to mind. In particular, a quote by legendary mountaineer John Muir, whose famous advice to humanity was to “climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” You’ve spent your life climbing; now it’s time for the tidings. If you didn’t realize it before, you know it now: Senior living communities have lots of them.

You’ve spent your life climbing; now it’s time for the tidings.

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Retirement ROI: Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Senior Living

A Claiborne Senior Living Guide
A senior living community might be more affordable than you think. Here’s what you can expect to pay for, and what you’ll get for your money.

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Building Your Future Starts With Budgeting for It

Before you decided whether to live in a senior living community, you must determine whether you can afford to.

Close up of hydrangea flowers

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve spent years—decades, even—saving money for retirement. When it gets down to brass tacks, however, you haven’t really thought about how you’re going to spend that money. You may have vague notions that you need housing and health care, or that you want to be active and travel, but you’d be hard-pressed to say whether your resources will actually support your goals, or for how long.

That’s OK. Everyone has to start somewhere. And if you or a loved one is thinking about moving to a senior living community, understanding what the costs are and how they’re structured is as good a place to start as any.

Before you start crunching numbers, there are a few things you should understand.

  • Costs need context. When you begin assessing the costs of senior housing, it’s normal to feel something akin to sticker shock. But big numbers are rarely as large as they initially seem. When you consider what expenses they encompass and over what period of time, and compare that to the equivalent cost of living outside of senior housing, you’ll often determine that the price tag is more affordable than it appeared on first glance.
  • Senior living is not one-size-fits-all. If you browse the web, talk to friends and family members who have firsthand experience, or commence discussions with specific communities, you might blush at the numbers. But it’s important to keep in mind that those are not your numbers. The truth is, senior living communities boast a wide variety of options at a wide variety of price points in order to appeal to as many potential residents as possible. Before you commit to living in a senior living community—or rule the prospect out—it’s important to examine your unique needs and resources. Then and only then can you paint a complete financial picture.
  • Communities can help you navigate your options. Senior living communities have specialized staff and software that can help you assess the affordability of senior housing based on your age, assets and monthly income from Social Security, pensions, investments and other resources. If there is a divide between your resources and your goals, they might be able to draw on their daily experience working with residents of diverse means to suggest avenues and ideas that can help you bridge any gaps.

It’s right to be thinking about the cost of senior living communities. Before you rush to judgment, however, use this guide to get a general sense of what expenses you might encounter and what services you’ll get in return. Once you’ve acquired some basic literacy about the financial aspects of senior housing, you can begin the process of determining what your situation may require and what the impact might be on your family, finances and lifestyle.

Two women facing each other in conversation
magnolia flower

Understanding what the costs are and how they’re structured is as good a place to start as any.

House with large front porch

1. Housing Costs

Older adults who live in senior housing typically must concern themselves with three principal costs, the first of which is housing.

For most of your adult life, you’ve probably had a rent or mortgage payment. Although it might be called something different, you’ll have a similar housing payment when you live in a senior living community. How much that payment is and how it’s structured will vary from community to community based on factors such as community size, location and type— for example, an independent living community where residents are entirely self-sufficient, an assisted living community where residents may receive assistance with activities of daily living, a memory care community that furnishes specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, or a skilled nursing facility that offers 24/7 medical care.

RENTAL COMMUNITIES

In some senior living communities, like independent living communities, residents might sign traditional leases that are similar in terms and cost to those of a conventional apartment. Leases might be month-to-month or annual, and might include a security deposit and/or move-in fee that’s typically equal to one month’s rent. Sometimes, amenities and services are ad hoc. Other times, residents enter into a residence and service agreement that encompasses both rent and various onsite services for a single monthly sum. This is especially common in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing communities. Although rental housing tends to be more affordable up front, it tends to be less predictable and can be more expensive over time since services are extra.

OWNERSHIP OR EQUITY COMMUNITIES

In an ownership- or equity-style senior living community, residents purchase their unit, pay real estate taxes on it and are responsible for its upkeep, just like a traditional home. They may pay additional homeowners association dues in exchange for certain amenities, and may have access to additional services, like assisted living, for an additional daily or monthly fee. Equity arrangements may be attractive for estate planning purposes, but provide no relief from the burdens of homeownership.

Equity arrangements may be attractive for
estate planning purposes, but provide no relief from the burdens of homeownership.

Happy senior mother with adult daughter sitting on couch and holding cups with coffee or tea at home. Togetherness concept

LIFE PLAN COMMUNITIES

Also known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), life plan communities offer myriad levels of care on the same campus in order to accommodate seniors as they age. In exchange for long-term stability and flexibility, they typically charge a significant “entrance fee”—basically, a down payment that must be paid prior to moving in, which often is funded with proceeds from a home sale. Entrance fees can be non-repayable or repayable. The former are lower but non-refundable if a resident moves out or passes away. The latter, on the other hand, are higher but offer generous repayment in the event of a move or death, which can be attractive for estate planning purposes. Although the initial price tag may appear large, the long-term value often exceeds the short-term investment.

2. Monthly Service Fees

Often, communities offer other amenities and services that are paid out of pocket as needed.

Whether you pay them in the form of monthly rent or upfront entrance fees, housing costs typically cover only the roof over your head. Some senior living communities fold an array of services and amenities into that cost; others charge a separate monthly service fee. Make sure you know what’s included and what isn’t in any discussion you’re having with a community! Like the fees themselves, the services they include will vary from community to community. However, they might include things like:

  • Meals and dining
  • Utilities
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry services
  • Local transportation
  • Fitness facilities
  • Resort-style amenities like swimming pools and putting greens
  • Organized social activities and entertainment
  • Nursing services in case of mild illness or injury

Often, communities offer other amenities and services that are paid out of pocket as needed—for example, dry cleaning, an onsite beauty salon, extra housekeeping services or extra meals for visitors.

Keep in mind that because of inflation and other economic variables like the cost of gas and food, monthly service fees may increase over time—typically by less than 5 percent per year. Fortunately, services often can flex with one’s budget. In many cases, for example, services can be customized to residents’ needs. A resident who prefers to cook their own meals in their residence, for example, might pay a lower service fee than a resident who desires a meal plan in the dining hall.

Make sure you know what’s included and
what isn’t in any discussion you’re having with a community.

Parkinson disease patient, Alzheimer elderly senior, Arthritis person hand in support of nursing family caregiver care for disability awareness day, National care givers month, ageing society concept

3. Health Care Costs

As they age, older adults often need increased medical assistance and services.

As they age, older adults often need increased medical assistance and services. Although it can be difficult if not impossible to predict one’s future needs, more support naturally translates into greater expense.

Some senior living communities offer residents a means to mitigate those financial risks by offering onsite health care services whose costs are built into the community’s monthly service fees, thereby allowing residents to lock in low prices for future care. This is the case, for example, in life plan communities, which typically offer multiple contract options for residents who may need health care support now or in the future. Some residents may elect to pay a higher monthly fee that promises to cover all their needs over time, regardless of what level of care they need. Other residents may elect to pay graduated monthly fees that start small but grow as their needs increase. Still others may desire a monthly fee that remains consistently low, in which case they’ll pay ad hoc for higher levels of care should they ever need them.

Some senior living communities—especially those owned by nonprofit organizations—may offer benevolence programs and subsidies for qualifying residents, who may be able to continue receiving care if health care costs deplete their assets. And most communities offer social, fitness and wellness programs that can keep residents’ future health care costs in check by keeping their bodies strong, their minds sharp and their spirits high.

Although it can be difficult if not impossible to predict one’s future needs, more support naturally translates into greater expense.

Group of senior women friends with coffee sitting outdoors on terrace, resting.

Aging in Place Isn’t Free

As you contemplate the costs of a senior living community, it’s natural to wonder, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to continue living in my home?” The answer might surprise you.

Here’s why: When you’re crunching the numbers for senior housing, you must consider not only what expenses you will have, but also what expenses you won’t have. Depending on what type of senior living community you select and what services it offers, you might be able to eliminate the following expenses from your monthly budget:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Landscaping
  • Cleaning services
  • Car payments, auto insurance, maintenance and fuel costs
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment

That’s just the beginning. You also will eliminate spending on home maintenance and repairs—including expensive replacements of your roof, hot water heater, appliances and HVAC equipment, all of which have expiration dates. There are home modifications, too: If you age in place, you’ll eventually have to spend money making your home safe for an older adult to live in. If you move to a senior living community, however, safety upgrades like ramps and bathroom grab bars already will be installed at no expense to you. And don’t forget about health care. If you age in place, you may eventually need in-home assistance and medical services, which don’t come cheap. Seniors who do the math in order to compare what they’ll spend with what they’ll save often discover that a senior living community is just as affordable—and sometimes even more so—than aging in place.

When you’re crunching the numbers for senior housing, you must consider not only what expenses you will have, but also what expenses you won’t have.

Group of senior women friends with coffee sitting outdoors on terrace, resting.

So, Should You Move into a Senior Living Community?

If you want to know the answer, follow the money.

Whether to move into a senior living community is a decision that seniors and their loved ones often make with the heart. But a decision of such import can’t be made on gut feelings alone. You also have to listen to the numbers.

That requires facts. To get them, make a list of your current resources and expenses, then speak with the sales counselors at prospective communities in order to get a complete and accurate picture of the scenarios available to you, what they’ll cost and what options exist for financing them. Finally, meet with your financial advisor in order to compare current resources and expenses with prospective needs and costs. From that, you should gain a good understanding of whether you can move into a senior living community, at which point you can finally consult your heart for an answer to the question you began with: Should you?

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