Learning the language of retirement living options

Splendido invites you to come learn more about the residential options available to you in retirement at an experts’ forum on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. 

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If you call Tucson home, with its hundreds of parks, excellent public and private golf courses, University of Arizona, local airport, Sonoran desert, mountain vistas and more, you are lucky indeed. Last month, Forbes magazine named Tucson one of the top 25 best places to retire in 2014, so wondering where geographically to retire is a fairly easy choice.  More complex, however, is the where to retire residentially question. With so many different residential options from which to choose, from Continuing Care Retirement Communities to “active adult” living residences, learning to differentiate between the choices is important, but not always easy. Below is an overview of key facts and options you should know and consider before you move. 

In an effort to help clarify the choices consumers and simplify data-tracking on Senior Housing, the American Seniors Housing Association and National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care Industries, along with other major players in the industry, agreed on standard definitions for property descriptions.  

Active Adult Communities

Restricted to adults 55 and older, they may include single-family homes, townhomes, and condominiums with no specialized services. Residents generally lead an independent lifestyle and they are unable to accommodate increased care as people age.  There may be amenities such as golf, recreational facilities and other amenities, and outdoor maintenance is normally included in the homeowner’s monthly association or condominium fee. 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Age-restricted, all-inclusive, amenity-rich places where you live independently with additional health services available should the need arise. CCRCs are retirement living communities with an important added benefit: lifetime care if ever needed. Maintenance free living, programs on and offsite with meal plans and a monthly service fee, these properties include a combination of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, available to residents. Payment plans vary and include an entrance fee or rental programs. 

Independent Living Communities and Senior Apartments

Age-restricted, multi-family rental properties with access to meals and other services such as housekeeping, linen service and recreational activities. Residents do not get assistance with activities of daily living and there are no licensed skilled nursing beds on the property. 

Assisted Living Residences

State-regulated rental properties provide the same services as independent living communities, but may also provide supportive care from trained employees for residents who are unable to live independently and require assistance with activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, management of medications and eating.  Many of these properties also include dedicated areas for residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. 

Nursing Homes

Licensed daily rate or rental are skilled nursing facilities where the majority of individuals require 24-hour nursing or medical care, usually licensed for Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement, and may include a minority of assisted living for Alzheimer’s patients and memory support. 

Planning Ahead is Key

Experts say that many older adults devote more time to planning their children’s college education, or a two-week vacation than their own retirement! The key is to thoroughly explore all the options with family members and your advisor before a health or financial crisis forces you to make a hastily researched decision. Knowing the options and what to expect will help you learn as much as you can in making this important decision.

(Editor’s Note: By Gale Morgan  is the vice president of Mather LifeWays.)

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