Tips on Paying for Retirement Living in Over 55 Communities

Author Alfred Montapert once said, “Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take.” We think this sentiment is particularly true when it comes to retirement. When you’re young you may feel like life is predetermined: school, work, family and so on. So it may initially feel freeing to wing retirement, but you may be shortchanging yourself. Proper financial planning can actually open up more options for the retirement you want in an over 55 community.

What’s Your Goal
First, ask yourself what your dream retirement looks like. If it includes relaxation, fun, amenities and a carefree lifestyle then it sounds like retirement living could be an ideal fit. But, don’t let the initial sticker shock of an over 55 community deter you. That’s exactly where the planning part comes in; to help put retirement living well within reach.

Start by Taking Stock

To prepare financially for retirement living, start by organizing your financial documents including:

  • Bank and brokerage account information
  • Deeds and mortgage papers
  • Insurance policies
  • Monthly or outstanding bills
  • Pension and other retirement benefit s
  • Social Security payment information
  • Stock and bond certificates

Then, consider consulting a financial advisor and/or estate planning attorney to discuss ways in which you might be able to offset the cost with resources already at your disposal such as:

  • Insurance options including long-term care insurance and/or life insurance conversions
  • Pension, Social Security benefits and personal property like your home that may be potential income
  • Programs in which you may be eligible like the Aid & Attendance benefit for veterans or their surviving spouses
  • Potential tax deductions
  • Analyzing your savings as well as your investment portfolio with long-term needs in mind

What to Expect

Retirement living (also known as independent living) falls under the umbrella term senior living; however you might say it’s the entry point in a continuum of care that also includes assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care.

Retirement living is designed for active seniors like you who need little daily assistance and although there is little published data on average cost because it varies so greatly; it typically ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 a month. Keep in mind this costs comes with meals, weekly housekeeping, laundry services and transportation often included, as well as access to a range of activities and amenities such as fitness center and pool.

More for Your Money

Now that you know where you stand financially and in general what to expect in retirement living costs, let’s look for ways to make your hard-earned dollars go further. It’s important to understand that there are three main factors that affect the cost you’ll pay:

  1. Level of Care – Essentially the more assistance you need, the higher the cost. You might consider a community that offers multiple levels of care on one campus so you’ll benefit by paying less for retirement living now but have the peace of mind that a higher level of care is available if needed.
  2. Geography – Where you live affects the cost of senior living the same as it does real estate. In order to keep costs down you might consider communities outside the city or in nearby towns, even a different state.
  3. Amenities – The more luxury you want, the higher the cost as well. Options that affect your monthly cost include your type of residence (private, semi-private, studio, one- or two-bedroom), pet fees, concierge services and private transportation.

Another area in which you have different budgeting options is the fee structure you choose. Although not every retirement living community offers all these options, the most common pricing includes:

  • All-inclusive –All services and amenities the community offers in one monthly cost.
  • Tiered – Different levels of cost options available, each one with a different variety of included services.
  • A la Carte – You pay a base rate for rent that may include some basic services then you’re charged a flat or per-hour fee for every additional service or amenity you use.

Bonus Way to Save

Retirement living in an over 55 community may offer move-in incentives such a month’s rent for free or perhaps assistance with moving costs so always make sure you double-check.  Any little bit helps when it comes to making your retirement dreams reality!

For more information on retirement living in one of our over 55 communities, contact us today to schedule a visit →


The Cost of Senior Living at Home vs. Living at a Senior Living Community

In deciding how to make the most of this phase in life, there’s a lot to consider. One of the most important is where you’ll live as really everything else builds from that. When comparing home to senior living communities, often the driving factor is cost and the assumption is that senior living communities are always more expensive. But you know what they say about those who assume. We can make sure you avoid that mistake by helping you compare the true costs of living at home versus senior living communities.

Senior Living Community Options

First, it’s important to understand that senior living is not one size fits all and the cost varies depending on your needs. Whether it’s level of care or amenities, it can seem like the options are endless. And while that customization to your needs is a wonderful thing; it can be confusing at times. Let’s break it down:

  • Independent Living – A lifestyle choice for seniors who require little daily assistance, but seek a vibrant social community free of the hassles of chores and home upkeep.
  • Assisted Living – Provides housing and assistance with daily tasks to support your independence in addition to many of the same amenities as independent living.
  • Memory Care – An environment designed for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia that includes 24-hour supervision, structured activities and a secure environment with specially-trained staff.
  • Age is Just a Number – Approximately 60 percent of centenarians say they don’t feel old and the rest said they didn’t start to feel that way until they were in their 80s.
  • Skilled Nursing – A higher level of supervision and care than in assisted living with24/7 nursing and physical, speech and occupational therapists also onsite.

You also have options for care at home including:

  • Home Health Care – These services include personal care, household chores, cooking, transportation, occupational, physical and/or speech therapy and can be provided on an hourly, as needed or 24/7 live-in basis.
  • Adult Day Care – Offers care during normal business hours, five days a week that typically includes meals and snacks, health monitoring, medication assistance and fitness, as well as enrichment programs and social activities.

Understanding the Financial Costs

As you can imagine, the cost is not one size fits all either. There are a number of factors that affect it including geography, but one of the biggest is the level of care. That’s why you’ll see the cost rise as more support is needed in senior living, and at home. Here’s what you can expect on average monthly from the Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey:

Senior Living At Home Cost

Home Health Care

  • Homemaker Services —$4,004
  • Home Health Aide Services —$4,195

Adult Day Care

  • $1,560

In Senior Living

Assisted Living Costs

  • Private, one-bedroom: $4,000

Skilled nursing

  • Semi-private room: $7,441; Private room: $8,365

Unlike other levels of care, there is little published data on average monthly costs for independent living and memory care because it varies so greatly. However, typical ranges are as follows:

Independent Living

  • $1,400 to $4,000 per month

Memory Care

  • $2,000 to $7,000 per month

Be Real in Your Cost Comparison

More often than not we see seniors comparing the monthly cost of senior living communities to their mortgage or rent alone which is not an apples to apples comparison. You must compare to the total monthly cost of living at home which also includes your food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, insurance and entertainment costs. Why is this so important? Because these things are typically included in the monthly cost of senior living at a senior community!

And don’t leave out the cost of any home health care (and/or home modifications) to support your needs. Would you believe that as many as four out of five adults underestimate this? According to the Genworth Long Term Care/Caregiving Online Survey the average American actually underestimates the cost by almost 50 percent. Not only is this important in comparing senior living costs, underestimating could mean a huge hit to your budget.

Once you look at the real comparison, you may be surprised to find senior living community cost is actually less expensive in some cases!

Consider the Emotional Cost

We mentioned above how everything else in your life builds from where you live, or more specifically, how quality of life is directly tied to your environment. Beyond the financial there’s also an emotional cost that must be considered. Yes, it can be hard to leave home. But, what’s the emotional toll on you or your loved ones as they take on caregiving roles? How about your own concerns such as home safety and transportation? In addition, do you have enough social and enrichment opportunities to keep you fulfilled?

That’s really where the value of senior living comes into play: the positive impact on quality of life. That emotional cost is replaced with freedom, fulfillment and peace of mind in senior living communities. You’ll have a worry-free lifestyle without unexpected expenses, chores or home maintenance, and the freedom to enjoy a full calendar of social, fitness and enrichment opportunities along with a host of amenities like restaurant-style dining, pool and fitness center. What’s more you’ll have the added peace of mind that support is always available if, and when, you need it. And what might be considered invaluable to you; that instead of caregiving your family can enjoy life right alongside you!

For more information on our senior living communities, contact us today to schedule a visit →