Exploring Senior Living Communities

Whether you’ve already retired, or the time is approaching, you may be thinking about living options for the future. You are probably considering whether you’d prefer to stay at home or move to one of the many senior living communities available. Weighing these options can seem overwhelming at first, so we’ve broken down a few of the most important things for you to consider.

Stay at home or move?

While staying at home in your familiar surroundings sounds appealing, you’ll want to examine the risks and rewards of this choice. In addition to the cost of taxes and maintenance of your current home, you’ll need to consider your plan in the case of unexpected health changes. With this comes the cost of medical expenses and at-home care should you need it. Because of the competitive landscape of home health care agencies, there can be challenges with maintaining consistent care in your home. A recent study showed that 97% of caregivers are “open to a job opportunity at any given time”, which could lead to frequent changes in staff.

Many people choose to avoid dealing with the uncertainty of home health care by moving—while they are still healthy—into a community that offers health care options for the future. The most common senior independent living options are rental communities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and Life Care communities.

What is the difference between these types of senior living communities?

  • Rental communities vary greatly – some offer no health services and some have onsite services such as Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing at an additional monthly fee.
  • CCRCs combine living accommodations, amenities and a full spectrum of health care options at an additional fee, if and when you need them, usually all in one location.
  • Life Care communities like Ventana by Buckner offer similar services and care options as a CCRC, but they take care one step further – giving you priority access to onsite Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing at predictable future costs well below market value.

If you decide to move to a senior living community as opposed to staying at home, there are many factors to consider when choosing a place to live. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you are making the best decision for your future.

  • Visit the community’s Information Center. Learn about the organization and their success rate with other communities they manage. Learn about food options, programming schedules and floor plans. You can even speak to current residents to get uncensored answers to your questions.
  • Ask the tough questions. Learn about the financial strength of the organization and its current occupancy. Ask to see financial reports, licensing and inspection reports and any complaint investigations in the recent past.
  • Find out if the community is for-profit or not-for-profit. The two different types of communities can have different goals. Not-for-profit communities like Ventana tend to have more conservative annual fee increases, lower staff turnover and reinvest revenue back into the community.
  • Take a close look at the contract. Make sure you understand exactly what it does and does not cover. Ask “what if” questions to be sure you have a clear picture of how the community might address changes to your health or circumstances over time.

Overall, the right community for you should make you feel at home. It will be your home for years to come. You should feel welcomed by the staff and excited about the amenities. Most importantly, it should be a place that you and your family feel will provide the best care for you. According to a recent report by Welltower, high-quality health care is a top priority for most people planning for the future. Even if you are years away from needing it, it’s important to consider and plan for your health care needs. And for now, you can forge new relationships and enjoy the amenities of a senior living community – all factors that will contribute to your overall wellbeing and happiness.

To learn more about your options, download our Retirement Toolkit or call 214.234.1035 to speak to a Senior Living Counselor about Ventana.