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Should You Consider a Life Care Community?

June 29, 2022

In 2019, there were 100,322 people in the U.S. who were at least 100 years old, according to a report titled “2020 Profile of Older Americans,” which was published in May 2021 by the Administration for Community Living,

By comparison, in 1980, there were 32,194 centenarians in the U.S.

The report noted that people who reached the age of 65 in 2019 could expect to live, on average, an additional 19.6 years.

If you have relatively good health now, you could be among the increasing number of older adults who live well beyond the century mark. “Living well” beyond 100 refers to the quality of life you could enjoy, too.

We know, because we see it right here in our community.

Living Longer Makes Planning Ahead All the More Important

With the increase in average life expectancy, some older adults also have increased concerns about the financial aspects of living longer, such as:

  • Will I outlive the assets I’ve set aside for retirement?
  • Will I be able to afford long-term care if I need it?
  • Will I have to rely on my family to take care of me or pay for my care?
  • Will there be anything left to pass on to my children and grandchildren?

If any of these concerns have been on your mind (or are now), then moving to a Life Care community may be worth considering.

What Exactly Is a Life Care Community, Anyway?

Basically, a Life Care community is a senior living community that offers its residents the full spectrum of care for as long as they live in the community — at no increase in the monthly fee for those services.

Depending on the specific community, this advanced care can include:

  • Assisted living
  • Memory care
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Rehabilitation

Here at Emerald Heights, we don’t insist that independent living residents pay for a meal plan they may or may not use. Instead, they pay only if and when they dine in our on-site venues.

But in the Corwin Center, which is where residents who need assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing live, licensure requires that meals be provided. So, there is the additional expense of three meals a day. 

By the way, Emerald Heights is the only Life Care community, also known as a Type A community, in the Redmond area. Other senior living communities may offer of the same advanced care services, but residents who transition to assisted living, for example, will see an increase in their monthly service fees.

Peace of Mind, Every Way You Look at It

As you can see, having a plan in place for a higher level of care, should you eventually need it, can give you tremendous peace of mind. That predictability, knowing that you won’t pay a higher monthly fee if you need advanced care later on, makes it much easier to map out a budget for the future.

Family members can relax, too

Some retirement communities charge as much as an additional $8,000 to $20,000 per month for higher levels of care, depending on the type of care provided. But if you’re living in a Life Care community, you and your family can breathe easier knowing that you won’t be facing that kind of hefty expense if you need advanced care at some point.   

A special consideration for couples

Couples may have another advantage when they move to a Life Care community: If either or both spouses later need assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing, they can both continue to live in the same community. That can be helpful even when one spouse is temporarily receiving skilled nursing services following an illness or injury, as it’s so much easier for the other person to visit every day.

Flexible options for different budgets

When looking at retirement communities, it’s important to compare upfront costs and ongoing expenses, of course. At Emerald Heights, we offer a variety of entrance fees, refundability options and monthly service fees.  

If you’d like to see what size home you may be eligible for based on your specific income, assets and age, you can complete our Financial Forecast Request Form.  

Most people who move to our community find that the equity in the house they sell is more than sufficient to cover their entrance fee. And, we offer up to 90% refundability of the entrance fee to the resident’s estate.

Potential tax advantages

We always advise checking with a financial planner or tax advisor, but know that many residents are able to write off a significant percentage of their entrance fee on their income taxes in the year they pay it. That can help offset capital gains on the sale of their house.

And, since a portion of the monthly service fee is considered a health care expense, most residents can write off a percentage of those, as well. We’re happy to offer more details about these possible tax benefits to guide you in your decision making.   

Another Crucial Consideration: Timing

Maybe you’re just starting to think about the possibility of moving to a senior living community — just to see what your options are for “someday.”

There are at least three very important factors to bear in mind:

  1. You don’t want to wait until your health deteriorates. Life Care communities have eligibility requirements for new residents. If you put off your decision too long, you could experience a health issue that would make you ineligible.

  2. You do want to take full advantage of the abundance of activities! The one thing we hear most often from people after they’ve been here a while is that they wish they had moved to Emerald Heights sooner. There are so many ways to be involved in the community and countless options for personal growth, through new relationships, new interests and new opportunities to learn.

    The variety of activities for seniors is almost always one of the top reasons people think about moving to a retirement community. , and that’s certainly true here at Emerald Heights. 

  3. You should take the housing market into account. Right now, property values are still quite high, so you may be able to sell your house for quite a bit more than the price at which you bought it.

    If you haven’t already, see the previous sections about potential tax advantages and using the proceeds from the sale of your house to cover your entrance fee.

Reasons People Dismiss the Possibility of a Life Care Community

#1: I’m to young to live there.

Some people still think of senior living communities as “old folks’ homes.” They may have memories of visiting their grandparents in a nursing home back in the fifties. But independent living at Emerald Heights is nothing like that. Residents thrive here. They make new friends and discover new things they enjoy doing. Many are more active now than they were before they moved to our community.

#2: I want to wait a few more years.

As we noted earlier in this post, you need to meet certain health-related eligibility requirements to become a resident of a Life Care community. Essentially, you must be able to live independently. Life can take unexpected turns, and quite suddenly. You may have limited options to choose a senior living community the longer you wait.

#3: I’ll miss my home.

There are a significant amount of older adults that would prefer to age gracefully in place. Others find their family home is just too much to maintain, and they don’t need such a large house anymore. And some, naturally, have a sentimental attachment to their home. Whether to stay or move is a decision that each person or family must make based on their own situation. It may be helpful to be as objective as possible, and to focus on everything you’d be gaining in your new home (e.g., new lifestyle, lots of new opportunities, more time to do what you enjoy).

#4: I’ll be giving up my independence.

You may actually be able to hold on to your independence (and your good health) longer by moving to a Life Care community. Knowing you can count on regularly scheduled transportation for shopping and medical appointments can make life a lot easier. And having someone else to do the driving for group outings (e.g., to ball games and live performances) can be a tremendous relief, especially at night.

Those social excursions and even the usual day-to-day interactions in a senior living community can help prevent loneliness and isolation, as well. That could add years to your life by lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses, research suggests.

#5: I can’t afford it.

So often, we hear people say it’s too expensive to live in a community like ours — even though they haven’t looked into the options we have available. Why not take a few minutes to fill out our Financial Forecast Request Form and let us see what we can do? You may be pleasantly surprised!

We’re Here to Help You

As you begin to learn about the different retirement communities in Washington state, remember that we’re here to answer your questions. When you’re ready to come visit, just contact us and let us know!