Senior Housing Researching Tips



Do you think I will qualify to live in a senior housing community if I have a pre-existing condition?   

Without knowing the specifics of your condition, it is hard to say. There are many senior housing communities that have medical criteria to be accepted for residency. The medical review process could include reviewing your medical history and a one-on-one meeting with a representative from the community’s medical staff. Someone who has a pre-existing condition may represent a higher than normal risk of requiring care and may not be accepted. Cognitive types of medical issues or progressive medical diseases are red flags and may disqualify you, so it is important to plan ahead. It is important to ask questions early in the process, so you don’t sell your home only to find out you did not meet the qualifications for residency. Medical acceptance varies from community to community, so you might find one that is more willing to accept you than another. If you are considering moving to an assisted living facility, the State of Florida requires a form called an 1823 to be completed by your doctor to verify that this is the proper living arrangement for you and to document the care levels you require. 


What is a Life Plan community?   

A Life Plan Community is a replacement name for the category known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).  The name change from a CCRC to Life Plan Community switches the emphasis from passive care to active living and planning – a shift that appeals to younger, healthier senior adults. 


A Life Plan Community is a residential community for people 62 and older that provides a variety of living options, along with services, amenities, and a continuum of care designed to address the changing needs of residents as they age.  In exchange for these services, amenities and care, residents typically pay an upfront entrance fee and a monthly fee.   


We are independent and not sure if we are ready to move to a retirement community. What are our options?   

Basically, you have four options to consider.  First, you can do nothing.  You can continue to stay where you are living and wait for something to occur to force you into a decision. This option may seem to be the easiest but has many implications that you need to think through. By waiting for a medical incident or a change in health, you run the risk of not being medically accepted.  You also place a great deal of responsibility on your spouse, your family, and your friends to provide daily assistance. Managing care at home is not easy and can be quite costly. Keep in mind that thinking nothing will change is not being realistic.  

The second option is to find a community geared specifically for independent living.  There are some rental apartment communities in this area that provide a “maintenance free” lifestyle.  This might be a good first step to lessen the responsibilities of homeownership.  

The third option is to move to independent living in a senior living community.   Most people who choose this option claim it was the best decision they have ever made.  They have peace of mind knowing they have made a plan for the future should they require care and services as they age, all the while enjoying a vibrant lifestyle.   

The last option is to move in with your children.  This is probably not the best solution; but, for some this may be the only option due to limited finances.  


I am not a social person, are there senior living communities that will fit my lifestyle.  

The lifestyle at many senior living communities is geared toward providing social opportunities for residents to enjoy.  Most offer a wide variety of activities such as exercise classes, lectures, wine tastings and cocktail parties, art classes, and book discussions.  However, choosing to participate is totally up to you.  If privacy is a concern, ask questions up front to see how the community will respect your privacy. 


Are there any tax implications to living at a senior living community?   

Yes.  It is wise to consult with your tax advisor for the specifics to your situation.  If you live in a Life Plan Community (CCRC), a portion of your entrance fee and monthly fee may be considered a medical expense. This percentage varies from community to community and year to year. If you live in an assisted living or skilled nursing residence, your care may also be able to be deducted as a medical expense.    


We have a small dog, are there senior communities that are pet friendly?   

Pets are important in people’s lives.  There are studies that show that people live longer and healthier with a pet. Some communities will permit pets while others will not. There are also communities that have designated “pet friendly” residential buildings within their campus. Size limits and number of pets allowed also exists at many communities as well as rules regarding acquiring a new pet after you move in.  It is important to note that if you move with a pet, you must be able to properly care for your pet.  Most communities have a pet policy, and your pet must be well behaved and not be a nuisance or threat to other residents or to the staff.  


Are there any senior housing communities in our area for low income seniors? 

Low income housing in SWFL is a major problem facing many seniors in our area.  Unfortunately, many times people will need to relocate out

of the area to find affordable housing.  It is advisable to fully evaluate all your personal resources prior to visiting senior communities and identify any outside assistance that may be available to you. This may include Veteran’s benefits and even unused life insurance benefits. Speak with your family and your church to see if they can offer any assistance.   


What are some other senior housing researching tips? 

Tour the health care facility.  One of the main reasons you are considering a move to a senior housing community is to have the peace of mind of future care should you need it.  Take the time to tour the health care facility to see for yourself if the residents are receiving good care and if the environment is clean and well-maintained.  Speak with family members, residents, and staff to learn as much as you can about quality of care.  It is also important to learn what type of care the facility is licensed to provide, and what charges are associated with that care. As a senior housing advisor, we research state violations, license types, and annual state survey results.  We will join you on your tour to ask questions you may not know to ask.    

Review policies and procedures. Understanding the Do’s and Don’ts of a specific senior housing community before you move should be a priority to you.  The more you know up front, the better you will know if this community is the right fit for you.   

Sample the lifestyle.  Finding a senior housing community where you can live with like-minded people is very important.  If possible, enjoying a dinner at a community or joining in on a social activity before you move in will give you chance to meet people and see you want these people as your neighbors and friends. There isn’t a “one size fits all” senior living community, so being able to experience the lifestyle will help you see if this community is right for you. 

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