The popularity of 55+ communities has grown dramatically over the past few years along with America’s senior population. If you are considering a move to one of the many forms of 55+ communities available, you should investigate carefully. This is a major senior lifestyle decision and must be made carefully.
Perhaps the first thing you should consider is whether you really want to leave your current home. There may be persuasive reasons for wanting to stay home instead of relocating to any of the many senior living choices available. You may be ‘grandfathered’ into a favorable real estate tax rate, your family, friends and support system may be nearby and you might be very satisfied with the in-home care or home care assistance you now receive. Or, you might simply choose the home instead option because it is a familiar place, the place you have always called home.
On the other hand, the opportunity to move may seem very attractive. The house in which you raised a family may now seem too big, too hard to maintain or too expensive. If you are retired, you are no longer tied to a job in a location you never really liked. So, what are the things you need to consider when thinking about moving to a 55+ community?
First, know that the term “55+ community” could mean any one of a number of things from independent living facilities like senior apartments, senior living communities, retirement villages or retirement communities to assisted living facilities and on to continuing care retirement communities and more.
Independent living facilities provide the greatest degree of autonomy and personal independence. They are often apartments or condominium style housing, although some have individual homes. In-home care may be available, but these choices are aimed primarily at people who do not require a great deal of trained medical assistance. Some housekeeping and meal services may be available but not required as parts of the agreement.
If you are in relatively good health, an independent living facility may be preferable to the ‘home instead’ option. You will no longer be responsible for lawn care, real estate taxes, home insurance and maintenance costs. You may be able to choose the housekeeping and meal service you want. These communities may offer ”social services” like organized trips, outings or local transportation. You may find that you are more active and “connected” in this type of senior living community than you would have been at home instead. Many independent living facilities are pet-friendly, so your dog or cat simply moves with you.
But what if you need more than just occasional help with housekeeping or routine chores? The next step in the range of 55+ community choices is assisted living or assisted living facilities. Assisted living communities provide more intensive individual care than independent living facilities can give. The range of care options may be as great as 24-hour assistance or as small as housekeeping and laundry service. Providing good, nutritious meals is often an essential part of a good assisted living facility.
If you or a relative find that you are no longer up to the routine chores of daily living, then an assisted living facility may be the best option for you. If you are experiencing difficulty with mobility, dressing, eating, toileting, or simply keeping your surroundings organized, the assisted living option can make the best of this situation.
Some 55+ communities consist of only a single option, such as senior apartments or condos, whereas others try to provide a wide range of accommodations and options. CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities) may offer a spectrum of choices from completely independent living to assisted living, skilled nursing care and even to hospice. The resident may move between care levels as required by their condition. This gives a certain assurance about the future but may require a contract agreement or even an up-front buy-in.
That brings up the most important part of this decision. You have got to investigate and plan. The number of details, decisions and questions can be overwhelming. They may concern medical, legal, social or psychological questions that you cannot answer. If you sell your house and move to an assisted living facility, what are the tax consequences? If you lose a senior homestead tax exemption, can you get it back? Is your medical condition likely to require more assistance in the future? How far from your family and your old friends are you willing to go? Do you still want to work part-time? Where?
Dealing with this alone may be impossible, but there is help. Finding Assisted Living and FindingAssistedLiving.com can help you find the resources and expert help you need. From medical advice, estate and tax planning, investment help, real estate services to consulting on special situations (such as late-life divorce) to locating the best assisted living facility in your area, FAL wants to help. FindingAssistedLiving.com has the knowledge base to give you accurate and trustworthy information on any senior living decision. Visit FindingAssistedLiving.com now to get the help you need.
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