Luther Oaks and Healthy Cells Magazine are proud to bring you the third article in a series from noted author, speaker, and consultant Randalynn Kaye. These articles are designed to help adult children and their senior parents navigate the emotionally charged process of making a lifestyle change as they transition from one stage of life to the next.
Before we explain what options are out there to explore, let’s take a moment to break down two basic concepts that will make everything easier to understand. All the options we’ll discuss will fall into one of the two general categories.
A. Traditional real estate, which may include:
- Remaining at home
- Downsizing into an apartment, townhouse, condo, or smaller house
- Moving in with family
- Moving into an active adult community
B. A retirement community, which may include:
- A rental retirement community
- A life plan community
- A retirement community setting with limited services
Retirement community settings consist of apartment homes, single-story townhouses, villas, cottages, and other layouts. Regardless of the type of building, these communities are essentially independent living in a more “user friendly” environment for adults 62 and over. The floor plans and sizes will vary greatly, but a retirement community will provide more safety, security, socialization, and life enrichment opportunities that are often sought by older adults. Most retirement community settings will include some or all of the following services and amenities for residents that can make life easier as a person ages:
- Utilities and cable TV service
- Maintenance of the home, often including the appliances and infrastructure like heating, air-conditioning, and plumbing
- Maintenance of the grounds, including landscaping and snow removal
- Security, emergency alert systems, sometimes a nurse or health center
- Courtesy transportation
- Housekeeping services
- Flexible dining options such as one or two meals a day being served in a dining room.
- Activities and life-enrichment programs
- Enhanced common areas ranging from just a few to all the “bells and whistles!” These enhancements provide easy and convenient access for residents to enjoy and enrich their living experience and may include a library, hair salon, convenience store, game room, community room, fitness center, garden plots, chapel, etc.
As you can see, retirement communities these days sound more like a vacation resort than the “old folks home” many people still envision.
Once the realization is made that a change of lifestyle is desired or necessary, you need to begin exploring the options. While the senior housing market is vast and ever-changing, the following is a brief summary of the most common options to explore.
Make no changes, stay in home: This is a viable option
and needs to be carefully evaluated. Some people will put a qualifier on the decision, e.g. until I need assisted living, until I can’t drive, until my spouse dies. Even if your parents decide this option is best, they should re-evaluate it periodically to be sure it is still the best and safest option.
Downsize to smaller home: Another option to explore may be to simply unload the larger home and downsize to a smaller home, apartment, condo, etc. You need to consider how old your parents are and how many times they want to move.
Move in with family: I will mention this when I am presenting to a large audience and it always draws laughter and moans, usually in equal proportion. Though most people in this day and age would prefer not to do this, it is an option that many families embrace, and it may need to be seriously considered for financial reasons.
Move to an active adult community: Active adult communities for ages 55+ are popping up all over the country. An active adult community will be the same as traditional real estate, but with access to senior-oriented activities and without teenagers or toddlers living next door.
Move to a retirement community: The differences in retirement communities will be how they are paid for and what, if any, future long-term care services may be included. This setting will be designed with safety and security in mind — grab rails in the tub/shower areas, no stairs, wider doorways for walkers, etc. The community may include apartment homes, townhouses, villas, duplexes, or the like. In these communities, people move in sooner while they are healthy and can enjoy the active lifestyle and all the amenities of resort-style living.
The most common types of retirement communities are the following:
In the rental retirement community, the resident pays for the cost of living in the community on a month-to-month rental basis. The community may have just independent living or it may also have assisted living or long-term care.
The life plan community provides a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care all on the same campus or in the same building. Most frequently, the life plan community requires an up-front investment, often referred to as an entrance fee, and a recurring monthly fee that includes services and amenities. This option involves various types of contracts and is usually the most complex for the consumer to grasp.
The retirement community with limited services: There continue to be many new versions of the retirement community lifestyle springing up with variations on how the resident pays and what they get for what they pay. Many times they will look and feel similar to the models mentioned above, but simply have fewer services.
Next month: The Facts of Life… Today
Randalynn Kaye has worked with and counseled hundreds of people searching various senior lifestyle options. She is actively involved with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and Life Services Network as well as the Assisted Living Federation of America. She is regularly interviewed for her expertise on issues facing today’s seniors and their families and has been featured as a senior specialist in major media.
For a complimentary lunch and tour, please call Luther Oaks Life Plan Community at 309-557-8000.