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Have you started thinking about your plans for retirement? Not just the things you’d like to do, but big picture questions like where you’ll live, how you’ll pay for it and what you’ll do once your health needs start to change? Answers to questions like these may seem like they’re far off in the future, but the truth is the sooner you start thinking about senior living in retirement, the better.
The retirement you’ve always envisioned can easily become a reality once you understand all that senior living has to offer. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll help you get started on your path toward the lifestyle you deserve and the peace of mind that only a Life Plan Community can provide.
WHAT IS A LIFE PLAN COMMUNITY?
Life Plan Communities provide the answer for a growing number of older adults who are looking for the opportunity to enjoy a vibrant and enriching lifestyle with peace of mind for the future. Beautifully designed Independent Living residences and on-site health care are hallmarks of most Life Plan Communities along with higher levels of care, including Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Short- and Long-Term Rehabilitation. Should the need for these services arise, care is provided at significantly discounted rates when compared to fees incurred by the general public.
Unfortunately, there are still lots of myths and misconceptions about Life Plan Communities. It’s understandable if your only exposure to them was several years ago while visiting a frail friend or loved one in a nursing home. However, today’s senior living communities could not be more different from what so many imagine. In fact, because of societal changes to ideas about aging in general, senior living communities are now places where people go to live their absolute best lives.
With younger populations of residents and full calendars of regularly scheduled fitness and wellness programs to keep people active, seniors are able to stay healthier, more fit and live longer in Life Plan Communities than they might at home. Life Plan Communities are designed with vibrant, independent people in mind. Fitness and wellness initiatives and programs help keep residents feeling young and fit. If illness or injuries do occur, world-class medical care is available right on-site. Everything is right in one place to keep you as independent and healthy as possible. An active, worry-free lifestyle offers you the freedom to do more of what you love to do while you’re the ideal age to enjoy it all.
WHAT IS THE CONTINUUM OF CARE?
Above all, Life Plan Communities provide incomparable peace of mind. That’s due in large part to easy, on-site access to a full continuum of care. Throughout all of life’s varying stages, there’s comfort knowing that your health needs will be met with compassion and experience no matter what. Whether you arrive at a Life Plan Community independently thriving every day, in need of specialized assistance or requiring more acute, full-time care, the experienced teams will be able to provide a plan specifically personalized for you.
Independent Living residences provide the services you need, along with the luxury you deserve, so you can comfortably live on your own for as long as possible. From here, you can enjoy all the programs and amenities that a Life Plan Community has to offer while pursuing lifelong passions and embracing a better aging experience.
Life’s changes sometimes require increased support. Assisted Living residences are designed to care for those who need more physical support, assistance with medications and personal care. Assisted Living residents experience the same luxuries as those in Independent Living, but receive additional services and care that are essential for this time of change.
Short-stay skilled nursing teams specialize in providing assistance to those who have been recently released from the hospital. This time of transition after a medical event often requires more acute, extended care to help regain strength, mobility and confidence. Working closely with hospitals and physicians, seniors are ensured a strategic plan of care that will best meet their unique needs.
Long-term Care is designed for those who require 24-hour medical services and support, with the aim of helping residents function at their highest levels while providing the assistance, activities and programming needed to keep every day fun and fulfilling. Your choice for a long-term care provider requires deep thought and careful consideration. Take comfort in knowing that in a Life Plan Community, every individual is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Memory Care provides a secure environment where seniors can explore new and old interests, engage in stimulating activities and live in a supportive, homelike atmosphere. A skilled team is available 24/7 to provide peace of mind and comfort to residents and their families so they can experience an improved and dignified quality of life.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF LIFE PLAN COMMUNITIES?
One of the biggest reasons seniors choose to stay in their own home is because of the perceived costs of Life Plan Communities. In reality, the costs over time to age at home are often significantly higher than many anticipate. Even if you’ve paid off your mortgage, homeownership is still expensive. Consider everything that goes into your monthly bills: insurance, taxes, maintenance and repairs — and the list goes on. At a Life Plan Community, all of the above items and more are included in one monthly fee. Plus, there are the added benefits of regular social activities, housekeeping services, higher levels of continuing care if necessary, and a community of neighbors all within easy reach. So, while the cost of your payments would depend on the size of your residence in a new community, it’s often comparable — possibly even less expensive — than paying for all of the same services while living at home.
Entrance fees are necessary to help develop the exceptional style of living that a Life Plan Community offers and to ensure the services that enable residents to live comfortably. Many residents apply the proceeds from the sale of their home toward the entrance fee. This model makes it possible for residents to enjoy the wonderful benefits of Life Plan Community living (such as meals, housekeeping, upkeep, utilities and enrichment and entertainment programming) as well as the assurance of multiple levels of care in the future at predictable costs. With refundable contracts, residents can appreciate an added layer of security knowing that a portion of their entrance fee will be returned to them, their children or their estate in the future.
Monthly fees are generally equal to or less than the monthly cost of living you would have formerly paid in your home before moving to a Life Plan Community, especially when considering the costs of all of the services, amenities and upkeep included. In addition to the comforts and convenience of community living, it means saying goodbye to the costs of homeowner’s insurance, utility bills, home maintenance, yard work and all the headaches of homeownership.
Even with all that’s included in monthly community fees, the number one thing for most people when considering a move is health care costs. When aging in place, you typically have two options for health care: either you hire a private caregiver to come into your home or you rely on a family member to take on that responsibility. In a Life Plan Community, you enter as a healthy, independent senior and as your needs change over time, your care costs remain virtually the same. Not only is this type of financial predictability priceless, it also removes the worry of wondering where you’ll receive care and which doctors will be able to provide it for you. Instead, care comes from a team you already know and trust inside the community you’ve already come to call home.
In many instances, there are also tax advantages to Life Plan Communities as well. Tax laws are, of course, constantly evolving and always subject to interpretation, but recent legal precedents have been favorable for Life Plan Community residents who have sought to deduct portions of their deposits and fees. Of course you and your tax preparation professional should consult closely to determine the best strategy for your circumstances.
If you’re ready to begin exploring your senior living options, start by getting a better idea of the true monthly costs needed to stay in your home rather than moving to a Life Plan Community. Download this Cost Comparison Sheet. By filling in the values for your own unique monthly costs, you’ll be able to see how they would compare at a senior living community. You just might find that the difference is much less than you would have expected.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT LOCATION?
There’s no shortage of incredible Life Plan Communities to choose from throughout the country. The difficulty comes in finding the location that’s right for you. Lots of factors play a role in this important decision: familiarity with the area, proximity to friends and family, climate, access to area highlights and more. No matter where you live now, if you’re thinking about where to retire, then you should be thinking about senior living in Tacoma, WA, a city that will give you a high quality of life at a comfortable cost.
Tacoma is located on the Puget Sound about 32 miles southwest of Seattle and boasts an incredible array of outdoor activities, cultural touchstones, historic landmarks and phenomenal food, not to mention the highly desirable benefits of Washington retirement taxes. There’s ample opportunity for you to stay active and healthy well into your retirement years. All around you’ll find stunning nature trails, water recreation along miles of shoreline, and deliciously fresh food, locally grown and sold at friendly outdoor markets. The city’s mild climate makes it hard to want to stay indoors, which is why there are often free concerts and art exhibits available to enjoy throughout the year. Simply put, Tacoma is one of the best retirement places in Washington state.
HOW WILL IT AFFECT MY HEALTH AND WELLNESS?
Most Life Plan Communities offer a robust calendar of programs and activities, along with an array of fun and free amenities available right on-site. There’s a good reason for that. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults who regularly exercise see improved results in controlling arthritis, maintaining healthy bones, increased stamina and muscle strength. These factors all combine to help prevent falls, which can lead to serious injuries. Staying active can also lower the risk of heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. As for cognitive benefits — a National Institute on Aging (NIA) study concluded that even moderate aerobic exercise could improve spatial memory.
In your senior years, it may seem harder to stay as active as you once were, but there are so many ways that you can keep your body moving without quickly wearing yourself out — and the benefits of doing just that are invaluable, for your body, your mind, and your spirit. It’s never too late to improve your heart health, strength, balance, and mobility through easy, regular exercise. Life Plan Communities understand these wellness benefits, which is why there is such a focus on senior living activities, along with a wide array of engaging amenities available on-site.
In a friendly, welcoming community, you can thrive while enjoying an unparalleled sense of belonging and fellowship with your friends and neighbors. Carefree living and complete peace of mind make it that much easier to enjoy all opportunities that are easily accessible in a Life Plan Community. Innovative, LEED-certified fitness facilities often feature a wide variety of world-class workout equipment, suitable for all levels, as well as a full schedule of fun classes to keep your body moving and your mind sharp. Along with a gym and aerobic studio, there may also be a swimming pool and a relaxing spa so you can make every day feel like a vacation. Outdoor gardens are designed to meet everyone’s gardening needs and abilities, no matter how green your thumb may be. Unique art spaces are where you and other residents can get creative with activities like woodworking, ceramics and painting. When it’s time to eat, a full-time executive chef and a world-class kitchen serve an array of delicious dishes every day.
ARE YOU READY TO MAKE THE MOVE?
If you or a loved one feel that now is the right time to start exploring your Life Plan Community options, consider a place like eliseo™. It’s important to begin the conversations about this next chapter of life sooner rather than later. Transparent discussions with your family can help ease the transition and put plans into place for key tasks like setting a timeline, selling the home you currently live in and figuring out the logistics of downsizing and actually moving into a new residence.
As uncertain as retirement may seem to be, one thing is undeniable: You’ll get more enjoyment out of these years if you prepare for them early, long before any changes become medically necessary.
Whatever choice you make, make sure it’s the right one for you and your family by getting a clear picture of what your future could look like in a place like eliseo. Once you’re ready to learn more about us, we’ll be more than happy to talk. Contact us by calling 253-319-3947, or schedule an appointment to visit our Tacoma, WA campus.