Is a Life Plan Community Right for You
Hello. It's Debbie Miller with mover improve with Debbie and thanks for joining me today. I have a lot on my mind this morning, but I wanna talk specifically about a life plan community and how to decide if it's right for you. Now, you know, you have other options available to you as far as what to do when you're downsizing. Should you move in with the children and have a your own apartment in the home? Or should you share your house with another senior or look into subsidized housing programs that can be kind of complex to navigate though that and there's usually a wait list, and then you might want to consider a co housing community, they're affordable, but some have lower coast units, and it's kinda like a commune effect. They have homes clustered around communal spaces. But the. Other option mature out today is to sign a contract with a licensed plan community. Doesn't seem to be affordable on the surface. But once you dig down into it may very well, turn out to be the option that works best for you and used to be called commute continuing care retirement community, a C C R C, and some places may still refer to that as a C C R C, however life plan community is focused more on wellness, and it is increasingly popular. It's a as a result of the joint initiative of leading age and Mather lifeways working with several marketing consulting firms. A new name was identified to change the wording of continuing care retirement community to life plan community, and the basic reason for that is in order to appeal to baby boomers a new approach with a new name would have to be developed in order to attract this audience. Oh, baby boomers are changing the retirement game strategically so they changed the name to attract more baby boomers, it's a more vibrant forward thinking name and it was sorely needed. Because continuing care makes it sound like you're really old, and you're gonna die any minute. In fact, I've had a number of clients say, well, this is a place where you go to die. You don't have any fun. So it is a fresh and innovative and positive focus on wellness and living life. Well, and they wanted to do that. So baby boomers would be interested in it younger retirees want to maximize every moment make the most of retirement maintain their health uncover new possibilities for their future. It's a lifestyle choice. They're living environment is created to minimize obstacles and maximize independence. Now that qualifies allies plan community, the community has to offer more than one level of care on one campus and has to focus on promoting and active lifestyle among residents and be socially responsible and give back to the community at large in this way. It's hoped that young seniors would feel more welcome and encouraged to find a home there. No matter what services might be needed down the road. These types of communities are regulated at the state level. So you need to Google your state to find out its definition of what constitutes a lice clan community, but basically though contracts with life plan communities provide lifetime housing and priority access to assisted living and skilled nursing care. So once you walk in the door as an independent person, they will take care of you until the day you pass away many communities include hospice and memory care. Eighty percent of these communities are not pro nonprofit, they're often affiliated with face faith-based organizations health systems, fraternal organizations, universities that sort of thing the general appeal of a life plan community is as I said a resident who is independent today as peace of mind knowing that the community which. Which they reside is a quick to provide healthcare services that may be needed in the future. This eases the burden it may otherwise fall on an adult child or other family member. One community that I've worked with over the years says that it's the best gift you can give to your children because they don't have to worry about your healthcare in the future. The people who move into a life plan community are usually planners. They have thought about this. They take a proactive approach in addressing their fuses utes, your housing and healthcare needs. So how do you look for one? And what do you need to ask as you making your decision? Well. The types of contracts that are offered their three basic ones, and you should always discuss the contract with an elder care attorney or your financial planner or someone who can evaluate the legalities of the contract. But the tight they contract consists of life's care type b is a modified contract and type c is a fee for service, some communities even offer rental option. So your CPA or elder care Turney can evaluate on-track before you sign it, and you should understand under what condition you or your heirs will get a refund if you leave or pass away while in their care. Then you also wanna find out what the ratio of independent living residences to assisted living and skilled care units. That are available. For most life plan communities. You must be independent to be to enter. But as you age and increase your need for extra service than you want to be sure that they'll be a place available for you without having to go to another facility for care. So check and see the number of beds that are available in assisted living and memory care. And that sort of thing have the monthly rates increased over the last five years average fee increases of three or four percent aren't uncommon sometimes four to six percent annually while you're in the independent living unit. And if an increase has been substantially more than that you need to ask why? So these sure as to what the increases have been each year over the past three to five years, not the average increase wanna make sure as you can afford to stay there. Next thing you want to ask is how is the cost figured many places charged by the size of the apartment. You're getting the type of contractor side as shining and the services that you'll receive so you wanna find out if I start with this level of service, how much more will cost me if I have to trade up, and you want to ask what services are included in the monthly fee, and will what will cost extra is the laundry included. I have to do my own laundry as there someone to do it for me, how about housekeeping how often can someone come in and clean, my apartment will someone change the sheets bring fresh towels. How often does that happen? If you wanna trae brought up to your partner for dinner instead of going down to the dining room. How much extra does that cost? Is parking included if not how much per car per month. Do they have room for more than one car? Lot of places assume that older people will only have one vehicle, and that's not really the case anymore, especially with baby boomers. What meals are included in the basic cost many communities will allow you a daily food budget of X amount of dollars. So that allows you some flexibility in fixing your own breakfast in your apartment, you can have lunch downstairs ask for a sandwich to take back to your partner for dinner and ask what happens to the money. If you don't use it all in one month's can carry over to the next month. That's very important because you may be feeling sick with the flu. And you don't wanna have anything but super Gatorade. And you wanna make sure what happens to the money that? I don't use from lunch or dinner while I'm sick. Then you are find out how much does it cost for you to bring friends or family members with you to a meal, usually that's an extra charge because it's an extra person that they haven't counted on. So it's like making reservation at a restaurant, but it will be a nominal fee for you to bring your friends and family members with you in to a meal, you wanna find out to is there more than one dining room, and how dressed up do you have to get for dinner, some places require really fancy clothes for dinner. Although more are relaxing, the dress codes, and you don't have to get as dressed up some places. We'll still have a more formal dining area and other places will also include like a bistro or cafe where you can go with the more relaxed. And then some places even have a bar for happy hour. So you wanna find out about that too? If he liked to drink a lot of people will have cocktails in their apartment with other friends in the building. And then they'll go downstairs for dinner. Next one of asked. What can I choose? What time I wanna eat my meal or does everybody have to eat it for thirty. And can you take your food back to your apartment or do you have to eat in the dining room in? How long does dinner last is at four thirty to six thirty as it till five to seven eight o'clock. What's the latest? You could come down because the number of people don't like to eat dinner at four thirty. They prefer to have seven or eight o'clock as their evening meal. And you want to look at the menu and talk to the dietitian because you need to be sure that the food matches your dietary restrictions, and that's a very important factor in deciding whether you're going to go to that space because if they will let you meet with the dietitian and help formulate a new menu just for you than that's a big. Plus, you wanna find out there's transportation provided to go shopping grocery store that actor is the grocery store transport only offered on certain day of the week, which grocery stores. Do you go to and will they allow you to order online and have it delivered? And if that's the case what's involved with doing that. Because a lot of people like to have the don't wanna bother with grocery shopping, especially if the weather's not conducive to shopping that day. So they'll have a delivered. But you need to. Ask ahead of time. If that's a possibility. You wanna find out what plans have been made or are in place for the facility to deal with natural or manmade disasters. I know I had a someone down in North Carolina who was in the middle of hurricane Harvey. And fortunately, the retirement community had made backup plans they had backup generators for to provide electricity and refrigeration for medications, and that's the thing, and then they were able to evacuate safely. So you wanna make sure what's going to happen? If have a hurricane or tornado or whatever is in the area where you're thinking of moving to. And this may sound like it'll never happen. But you want to know what the plan is if the office of emergency preparedness, declares a shelter in place emergency what kind of the syllables will you be put into because if the elevators aren't working and you have to call him down five flights of stairs. You wanna know how they're going to handle that they should have an evacuation or emergency repaired nece plan on site. And he want to review that as well. The other thing you want to talk about is can you have a pet, and if so what kind and what size some places will allow you to bring your pet in. And then you'll get in a little group with other people who wanna bring their pets, and they see who's compatible and who's not, you know, if you have a Yankee barking dog is that better than a quiet dog, and how long have you had the pet is it a cat is that a canary that sort of thing you want to find out if they're going to allow you to have your pet because if you've had that pet for a long time, you don't wanna leave it behind. That's an important part of the move. And so you want to ask about that? The other thing you want to ask about which I think is very important is who decides whether you have to move to another level of care. In other words, you've been independent for several years there. And then all of a sudden you might need assisted living. Can you bring your doctor in for an evaluation or is it only the decision of the community doctor on site? And how do they determine the social workers? There's there nurse involved. How they determined what activities of daily living that you need help with now. And then you wanna make sure that you understand how the transition will work. Because the transition, you know, do you have to continue to pay on your current apartment until they find someone to fill up the the apartment, and then you move in. If so you might have to be paying two different rates for the unit assisted living being more expensive in a smaller space how much time do you have to move your furniture out of the unit if assisted living is going to be a permanent situation. That's important part to another part is if you are married, you wanna find out if your if your spouse is moved to another level of care, for example. You're staying an independent living, but your spouse is moving to assisted living or the dementia Alzheimer's area. Do you have to continue to pay for both living spaces? What if the spouses, moved permanently to another level of care that you as the other spouse don't need to have how is that our work, and you need to be very sure about that. Because if you get to have if you have to char- be charged for each unit menu. Make sure you can afford it. Another thing you want to ask is are you allowed to hire a private duty care provider above and beyond what the facility provides because they may say you need to go to assisted living. But you may say, well, I can have a private duty care provider come into my unit, and I pay for that out of my own pocket. Mile funds. Ask that's possibility because then you would avoid having to move to assisted living. Once you find out who's responsible for making that decision that will help you in making your decision. Obviously you wanna find out. What types of activities are available some places have woodworking shop or art studio. They'll have ballet and opera outings. They'll take you on bus trips to different locations. So you wanna find out if those activities are available. I mean, if you love to play bridge, and they don't have a bridge club will then you're gonna wanna talk to the activities director to find out is anybody else that wants to. Although there are few places that don't have a bridge club more of them have it because that's a popular pastime. But you I find out what the activities are. So that you can find out if it's gonna match what you want and it's possible. But if you have a titular love of something that you could ask me TV's director. Maybe there's other people in the facility already, but they haven't been able to get enough people together to form a group. I had a woman who had a youthful workshop in her home. She'd love doing woodworking and building furniture, and she was so excited because the place she moved to had a woodworking shop, and she was able to take some of her big pieces of equipment with her to the facility, and she let them be there in the facility and other people were also enjoying being able to use those pieces as well. So it it really depends on what you like to do. But make sure it matches what they provide. And make sure are there enough activities provided on campus as well as off campus. You know, do you like to travel and go places or do you like to stay put that's gonna be there important as well. And you wanna ask which activties are free or which charge an extra fee, or is this included in my monthly fate. And if it's not included than how much extras are going to cost, for example. If you go on a bus tour, like say, you'll go a day trip to a big city, and that may cost extra because they have to get an outside vendor to provide the bus in and take you there. And of course, you want to talk to the activities director if they have one and are the residents allowed to give input as to the type of activity that they want like I said before just because you like playing a certain activity participating that doesn't mean they have it thought if they hear that you like it, and they've heard from other people that they wanted them there might be enough people then to get a group together. And if they have day trips or overnight trips offered find out you can see usually they'll have a flier saying, hey, we're going to have a day trip to such and such a place years when the bus leaves in here so much costs and where to go if they don't go to places that you're interested in again talk to the activties to reference if you can get a group together to go where you would like to go. Utmost importance is to track financial status of the community because if a community has less than eighty five percent occupancy, which is kind of a standard, then you might have to have issues with financial viability and stability of the actual community itself. So you wanna make sure that you look at the budgets and the finances for the past several years, if it's a new community, and you're just moving in they most likely have built elsewhere. And you wanna find out what their track record is there? But that's very important because if they do go into foreclosure and another company comes in and bails, the company out that owns the facility, you wanna find out are your services gonna change if it's a faith based organization, this isn't generally as much of a problem as it is for a for profit. Company. And Ben if you leave or pass away, do you continue to pay the monthly see until a new resident is found. And is there a fee to refurbish the apartment for the next resident that's very important to and then how much will you or your heirs get back if you leave or die, and what is that percentage based on? And again, you're going to have to have your CPA or elder care Turney review your contract with you before you sign see, you know, head of time what you're getting sometimes C C R C's of life plan communities are eager to fill empty unit. So sometimes there's room to negotiate the fee and other contract provisions. The you might negotiate to pay half the entrance fee now and half in a year, depending on what type of contract you sign you might want to ask for a refund of entrance fees, which may be paid you. If you move out or to your estate, if you die you you can negotiate especially if they're occupancy levels are lower, and it the refund is often contingent as I said on your unit being occupied by new resident Matt could delay the refund, especially if the housing market is in the doldrums it'll take a while for someone to. L their home and move into yours. But you might you can negotiate with in other ways again in elder care attorney or your CPA can help you without. But the financial strength is probably the most important because if they go belly up, then you want to be able to know that you could stay and have the same level of service and for more than twenty years, I've been helping seniors adult children sell the family home or refurbish their own age in place. So you can feel free to contact me at move or improve with Debbie at g mail dot com. If you have more questions, thanks for joining me today.