ADVICE FROM A SENIOR LIVING EXPERT
Selecting a senior living community is not an easy task. These are common questions we get asked.
My children live up north, should I move to be with them?
As a son whose mom lives nearby, I truly understand the importance of having family close. Fortunately, we both live here in Southwest Florida, and we can be part of each other’s lives. The idea of moving out of state to be nearer to children is a big decision that involves many factors and changes. First and foremost, is the question of whether you are ready to give up your current lifestyle? Do you have friends or a social network in their area, or will you be depending upon your children to provide you with the socialization you need? Will you live with them, or will you find a place of your own? You will need to think about changing your primary care physician and specialists, your bank, and your church. How comfortable will you be driving during winter conditions? Will the winter weather hamper your activity level and lessen your independence? Are your children committed to continuing to live in that area, or could their careers take them to another location? What happens if they retire, will they want to stay in that location? As you can see, there are many factors involved in deciding to move closer to your children. I would recommend before making that decision, to visit the senior living communities in this area. You may be able to fulfill yours and your children’s desire for security and peace of mind without such a drastic change.
If I move to a senior living community, do I need to change doctors?
When you live at a senior living community, you can continue the relationship you have with your primary care physician and specialists. As a convenience to the residents, many communities do have relationships with physicians and these doctors maintain clinic hours at the senior living community. You are under no obligation to use these doctors; however, residents find it time saving and worthwhile to establish a relationship with a physician on site. If you decide to keep your physician, most senior living communities provide transportation to and from your medical appointments to make life a little easier for you.
I want to move to a senior living community, but my husband does not. What should we do?
It is very common for one spouse to not be on the same page as the other when considering a senior living community. Many times, it is hard for someone to think forward and contemplate scenarios when they are less independent. Most likely, your current residence will not be suitable as you advance in age. It is not sensible to believe your health will remain as it is for the rest of your life. Share with your husband that not putting a plan in place now would place the entire burden on your shoulders if something should happen to him in the future. It is easier to make the move when you are both able to select a community together, sell your home together, pack and move together, and make new friends together. Hopefully, he will recognize the importance of protecting you and creating a life which you both can continue to enjoy for many years.
There are so many senior living communities to consider in our area, where do I start?
Locating a senior living community that meets your needs and preferences is not easy, especially if you try to do it alone. As a senior housing advisor, this is exactly what we do. We get to know you and discuss which options best fit your needs and preferences. We are familiar with all the options in the area and the nuances of each. We help you narrow down the search and create a road map of places that meet your requirements. We are also familiar with the new communities on the horizon and have much insight about a community’s operational history. If desired, we can join you on your tour and ask questions you may not know to ask. We help you understand the terms of the contract and even negotiate the fees, as appropriate. Trying to do it alone is a monumental task. The last thing you want to do is move somewhere and be unaware that the community is experiencing financial or operational issues. Taping into a knowledgeable resource will help you avoid these pitfalls.
Please explain how the refund programs work at Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)/ Life Plan Communities?
CCRCs/Life Plan Communities offer a variety of entrance fee refund programs – 0%, 50%, 75% and even 95% refunds. The entrance fee is typically earned by the community at a rate of 1% to 2% per month. There is usually a 2% to 4% administration fee earned during the first month. Each month that you live at a CCRC, a percentage is deducted (earned) from the entrance fee that you paid. If you select the 0% refund plan, your entrance fee refund will decline over 4 – 7 years until your refund reaches zero. On the other hand, if you select the 50%, 75% or 95% plan, your estate will have a set amount refunded. If you opt for a higher refund program, you will pay an “up charge” for these plans as compared to the 0% refund program. Basically, you pay more upfront to be guaranteed a higher refund.
Some communities will offer different refund programs based on their health care plans. For example, a community might offer a 95% refund, but you would also be responsible for paying for higher levels of care as needed. It is wise to consult with your attorney and financial advisor to determine which plan best fits your needs.
Are there resources available for low income seniors in our area?
Collier Senior Resources at the Golden Gate Senior Center has funding to provide financial assistance to low-income seniors in need. Call Maritza for more information at 239-252-4550. The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is another valuable resource. The Area Agency on Aging is committed to connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. They can be reached at 239-652-6900.
Are there any upcoming educational seminars for area seniors?
The Leadership Coalition on Aging (LCA) is conducting their Empowerment Series Panel Discussion on Sept. 13 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Collier County South Regional Library. The topic will be Advanced Planning – Getting your Affairs in Order. It will feature an attorney, a physician, an accountant, and a real estate professional. The event is free. For more information, please call 239-595-0207.
To have your senior housing questions answered in a future article, please submit your questions to: [email protected]
Senior Housing Expert and Advisor Bruce Rosenblatt is the owner of Senior Housing Solutions.