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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.”

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.”

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.