Now that some of the past year’s restrictions have been lifted and many aspects of life are starting to open up again, we’re seeing a lot of new interest in our community—particularly from people who are approaching retirement age or have just recently retired. Some of the people we talk with tell us they put their plans for moving to a retirement community on hold because of the pandemic. Now, they’re eager to pick up where they left off. Others say the pandemic has given them reasons to start considering such a move, whether they’re looking for a community for themselves or someone they care about. If this sound familiar, you’re not alone. It’s time to learn about the benefits of Life Care.
Since Emerald Heights is the only Life Care community in the Bellevue/Redmond area, nearly everyone we talk with wants to know more about what Life Care is and what the benefits are for those who choose to live in a Life Care community (also referred to as a “type A” community).
For example, we recently wrote about the many financial benefits of Life Care. Here, we’ll recap the basic concepts of Life Care and then take a deeper dive into what it could mean for you, should you decide to make Emerald Heights your new home.
The best way to explain Life Care is to look at the term literally. Essentially, when you move to a Life Care community, you have unlimited access to advanced health care services—assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing—for the rest of your life, with no increase in your monthly service fee for those services.
That last part is an important distinction. Other retirement communities, including Life Plan communities, might offer a continuum of care (which may only include two or three levels of care). However, unless you choose a Life Care community, you will pay an additional amount to transition from independent living into assisted living or memory care. Or skilled nursing, if that option is even available. At many communities, it’s not.
Now that we’ve explained what Life Care is, we’ll delve into some of those benefits we alluded to earlier.
Without a crystal ball to tell us what’s ahead, planning for the future can be challenging, to say the least. It’s no fun to think about the possibility of someday needing more than the health care we currently use. If we’re lucky, we’ll maintain our present state of health or maybe even improve it. That’s the reason most independent living communities focus on offering a range of social, physical, educational, spiritual and volunteer activities to help residents stay engaged in all aspects of life.
With Life Care, it’s easier to plan for the future without having to count on being lucky. You know that your monthly service fee includes those higher levels of care if you should ever need them. That means you won’t have to pay extra if you need to transition to assisted living or one of the other levels of care available in our community.* In other words, the monthly service fee you pay when you move into the community stays the same, even if your needs change over time.
Sometimes people tell us they’re pretty sure they’ll never need memory care or any of the other advanced health services we offer. Of course, we hope that’s the case. But the truth is, none of us knows for sure. Otherwise, there would be no need for long-term care insurance—which, incidentally, fewer people seem to have these days.
(By the way, if you do have a long-term care insurance policy, you can use that here at Emerald Heights—even if you’re in independent living. We’d be happy to explain how.)
In other senior living communities that offer advanced health care services, the additional charges for advanced health care services can run as high as $8,000 to $20,000 per month, depending on the community and the services required. That can quickly add up to a very hefty sum, and prices will likely only get steeper.
With Life Care, you can avoid the financial toll that kind of care would take on your assets. Life Care lets you lock in your future health care plans for a predictable cost. The peace of mind that comes with that is priceless.
*At Emerald Heights, because of the unique way we’ve set up our meal program, residents in our Corwin Center, which includes assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care, do have an additional expense for meals.
Emerald Heights’ contracts are structured with a choice of three entrance fee refundability options: traditional, 50% and 90%. (That refers to the amount of the entrance fee that is refunded, or returned, to the resident’s estate.) The flexibility of these three options makes it easier for some people to join our community.
The traditional option, which is a “zero return” to the resident’s estate, is a bit misleading. As Peggy Bush, one of our residency counselors, explains, “During the first five years, if someone moves out, they would get a portion of the entrance fee back. The amount diminishes by 20% per year, so after five years there would be no refund. But normally when people move to Emerald Heights, they’re planning on staying here. People just don’t move out.”
Peggy also noted that although the Emerald Heights pricing sheet says refundable entrance fees are not available to residents older than 85, that isn’t the case. There is, however, a premium for residents in this 85+ age group.
As we’ve noted, we offer the entire continuum of advanced health care services right here in our community. Those who are in our independent living area have priority access to all of the services available in our Corwin Center—assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.
If you’re just starting to research senior living options, you may be wondering just how much of a benefit this is. Ask anyone who’s had to be placed on a waitlist to get into memory care or someone who’s had to go into skilled nursing 20 or 30 miles away because there isn’t anywhere close by with openings. They’ll tell you that having access to these advanced care services right in your own community can be a tremendous benefit, for you and your family.
By now, you know that we offer four levels of advanced health care services. In case you’re not entirely sure what distinguishes one level from another, here’s a brief description of each.
Although you might not think of this as a “health” care level, the lifestyle centers on holistic well-being. Basically, independent living is having the freedom to do more of what you want to do. Your time isn’t taken up with home repairs and maintenance because we take care of all of that. Instead, you can enjoy the many opportunities to socialize, discover new interests, be more active physically and spend quality time with family and friends. As Anita Danielson, another of our residency counselors, pointed out, “It’s also easier to travel because you don’t have to worry about finding a house sitter.”
This is for relatively independent people but who need a little extra help with the day-to-day routines of life. This can include making sure that medications are taken as prescribed to assist with grooming and meals. In most cases, a move to assisted living is long-term. Our staff members who aid residents in assisted living are trained to watch for signs of cognitive decline, which can signal the potential need to transition to memory care.
As cognitive decline worsens, a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease often ensues. In addition to providing a safe, structured, and secure environment with 24/7 nursing care and supervision, memory support at Emerald Heights features activities and programs that are specially designed for residents who have memory loss—whether it’s the result of Alzheimer’s disease, another form of dementia or some other health issue. Members of our memory support staff help residents work on their cognitive abilities. And they enjoy activities they can engage in safely while reducing their stress and helping them feel more comfortable.
Contrary to what some people believe, receiving skilled nursing care is not the same as being in a nursing home. Depending on their needs, residents in the skilled nursing area at Corwin Center have access to medical care and supervision around the clock. Additionally, this includes physical, speech and occupational therapies. They also have opportunities to participate in social, recreational, spiritual and educational activities as their situation permits. A stay in skilled nursing can be temporary, as with short-term rehabilitation, or it can involve longer-term care for a chronic medical condition.
Having all of these types of care available in the same retirement community can be especially beneficial for couples. While both spouses may be in good health when they move into the community, one (or both) might eventually need to transition into a higher level of care. We’ve seen so many times what a difference it can make, being able to stay in the same community together—particularly if memory care is involved or if driving is no longer an option.
If you want to know more about the benefits of Life Care and what that could mean for you at Emerald Heights, contact us. We’d love to talk with you. After all, the more information you have, the better the decision you can make about where you want to live!