When choosing a retirement community for yourself or your loved one, there are a lot of factors to consider. Ensuring current health needs are met is important, but will the retirement community be able to meet your future health needs as well?
Learn more information about continuing care and senior care options for seniors, and also about the benefits of moving into assisted living early.
As seniors age, their health needs grow and become more complicated. That is why it’s always been important to choose a retirement or senior community that has a continuum of care in place.
According to the NCBI, the “continuum of care is a concept involving an integrated system of care that guides and tracks patients over time through a comprehensive array of health services spanning all levels of intensity of care.”
Historically, seniors were seeking continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), and paying a premium for them to ensure that when they moved into an independent living community they would be guaranteed a future spot should they need to make a move to assisted living later on. With this older CCRC system, seniors were financially locked in because they paid an upfront fee to guarantee their stay and their ability to get that back when they moved was reduced with time.
Some seniors, then, question whether or not it is more affordable to move to an assisted living community from the start, bypassing independent living altogether.
Dan Willis, Senior Vice President of Partner Services with A Place for Mom weighed in on the subject, and his answer may surprise you.
According to Willis, the industry has changed and now most retirement communities don’t ask seniors to pay upfront to move into assisted living should their health needs grow. “Protection against unavailability is outdated,” Willis explains.
“Now there are options, more freedom, more choice.”
Most areas across the United States have a variety of retirement communities to choose from and these communities offer a continuum of care, ensuring their health services are designed to meet seniors needs. The days of long waiting lists are gone, giving seniors greater flexibility and choice.
Now, seniors can enter an independent living community that meets their needs in terms of amenities, price and location without worrying about whether they will find a spot in an assisted living community should they need one. They can cross that bridge when they come to it.
According to Willis, another change in the industry that has resulted in greater flexibility for seniors is the increase in home care services within independent care communities. “Anyone can bring in in-home care and it is your right to do that as your needs change.” Willis says.
For seniors who have made strong relationships with the staff and other residents at their independent living communities, in-home care allows them to stay in their community as long as possible, remaining connected to their support system. In fact, these relationships contribute to a senior’s emotional well-being and can often help delay the need to move to an assisted living community.
In short, it doesn’t make sense to move into an assisted living community until your health needs require that extra level of assistance.
Instead, seniors should look for a community that meets their present emotional, physical and social needs.
Willis explains that now, with most independent living communities you can stay as long as you need to, and then “if you want to move into an assisted living community you go through the process of looking for a community again to meet your current needs.”
With this flexibility, a senior’s continuum of care is more adequately addressed. “What happens when you need specialized assisted living like memory care, but those programs aren’t there?” Willis asks. “If you are locked into it you don’t have choices. Keep your options open. You want choices all along the way,” he advises.
Do you have experience finding assisted living and continuing care options for your senior loved ones? What benefits were offered to you by moving into assisted living early? Share your stories with us in the comments below.