As published in the Savannah Morning News - August 29, 2012
Choosing the Right Retirement Community
Senior transitions include many choices. For young retirees, it may mean turning a dream into a reality...moving into a second home that was planned for retirement, or perhaps finding the perfect vacation home that will one day serve that purpose.
Whether you choose an Active Retirement Community, Continuing Care Retirement Community, or Independent, Dependant or Skilled Nursing Facility, here are some things to think about and helpful checklists when researching your options.
Tips to Help You Decide on Your Second Home or Retirement Community
Top Considerations for Active Communities
Age Restricted Communities
If you are considering one of these types of communities, know there are rules and requirements that apply. Be sure and ask each community for their Rules and Regulations, so you are aware of some crucial elements that may or may not fit your needs. These considerations may include how long grandchildren may visit in a single stay, or accommodating a younger spouse or adult child that may need to live with you.
Top Three Considerations for any Community
When I have interviewed various retirement community Sales Directors, they find the most frequently asked questions are:
Where’s The Money?
You have choices, which are best explored with a reputable, certified Financial Planner. Here are some ideas to explore:
“Buy-in” Continuing Care Communities, require the Senior to have a certain net worth to be allowed to purchase the rights to live in a unit. In some communities, if their savings runs out, the Senior is still guaranteed continuing care. In that case, the capital used to buy in is then reduced each month by the amount of the monthly fees and is utilized by the community to pay the Senior’s expenses. When the Senior departs the Community, and the unit is re-sold, a pre-determined portion of this fee, or the balance left if utilized for monthly expenses (whichever is greater), is refunded to the Senior or their heirs. An attorney’s review is important to determine if a buy-in is a good option for you and your family. It should not be utilized for short term plans.
Line of Credit: Taking out a line of credit on your current home while it sells, or utilizing your investment portfolio as a means of a temporary bridge until your home equity can be tapped, may be a solution for a buy-in opportunity. Again, Financial Advisors can discuss these options with you to determine which is your best alternative.
Veteran’s Benefits: Many qualified Veterans and spouses are eligible for VA benefits to pay for senior living. There are Elder Care Attorneys and Financial Advisors that can help you navigate these waters to determine eligibility. Estate planning frequently comes into play here, so some advance financial planning is important.
Long Term Care Insurance Policy: Hopefully, you already have this lined up and did so when you were spry and able to get a good policy at a good price. Again, Elder Care Attorneys are great for reviewing these complicated policies and giving you the bottom line in plain language. A consultation will give you peace of mind on what your policy provides and what your monthly allowances will be so you can plan ahead.
Reverse Mortgages: If you are considering a down-size move into a smaller home, you can actually purchase a home using a reverse mortgage. I hear positives and negatives on this option, and if you choose to go this route, you must use a reputable lender or mortgage broker that will meet with you personally. There are unscrupulous on-line companies that are here today and gone tomorrow, so go local, and go with someone that you trust. To help you understand the nuances of this type of loan, there is HUD approved, required Independent Counseling.
Advantages to reverse mortgages:
The down side to reverse mortgages:
It is prudent to have an attorney that is familiar with reverse mortgages handle the closing on this type of loan.
What is included in the monthly fee?
Each community has their inclusions, so it’s important to shop apples to apples. Most include the following:
What happens when the Senior needs more care?
Long Term Care Insurance is invaluable here. If a Senior is in a down sized home, active or independent community, daily help can be obtained with this policy. Check with Medicare, your Long Term Care Insurance provider, and/or your Elder Care Attorney on this, so you will know what to expect in advance.
Family can move in with certain modifications, such as additional rent, and an additional charge to meal plans. The family member(s) must also meet the community age restriction requirements, if applicable.
Hospice Care can be utilized for pain management and/or end-of-life care. Hospice care is covered by insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, although there are maximum limits which need to be reviewed. Hospice providers will not turn anyone down due to inability to pay. The state will usually pay for hospice care, with some eligibility requirements. It is a cost-effective alternative to end-of-life care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities provide peace of mind to the Senior and their family. This is a long term care solution for Seniors, since the Independent, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing facilities are all in one community. The Senior can move back and forth as need be, without having to leave their friends, support systems and possibly their spouses. Many Communities also provide Memory Care, which ensures the safety of the resident who may develop cognitive issues. Without the benefit of a continuing care community, as issues arise, a Senior may have to be moved to another community that can provide the care they need, if none of the other options mentioned above are possible.
Coming next, in the “Moving Mom” Series – The Crucial Step, Floor Planning Your Next Home
By Brooke Bass, Associate Broker with Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners and owner of Gracious Moves LLC, a Savannah based Staging and Move Management Company.
A nationally award winning Realtor, Brooke has been successfully selling and staging homes since 1985. She has earned the National Association of Realtors “Seniors Real Estate Specialist” certification, and is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers and Greater Savannah Coalition on Aging. For more information, contact Brooke at 912-655-9299 or visit www.GraciousMoves.com.