Whether it's for yourself or your parents, the right choice is important

Choosing the Right Retirement Community

by Sarah Schwarcz


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Choosing the right place to live out ones "golden years" can be frightening and overwhelming, both for the individual and to their family. Many factors need to be taken into account, including age, health, marital status, financial situation, and social, recreational and cultural requirements. Often, there are geographic requirements, as well.

Retirement Options

Depending on one's age and health, the options are almost endless. When one is not as physically and socially independent as they used to be and needs help with some day-to-day tasks, there are many assisted living facilities to choose from. A nursing facility will probably need to be considered if and when the services of ALFs do not suffice and dad or mom needs long-term care. Baby boomers, on the other hand, will cringe at the thought of considering a retirement community simply because the word "retirement community" is associated with old age, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and dementia. The term has now gone to the wayside and is now more commonly referred to as an adult community, a 55+ community, an active adult community, or simply "a place to retire."

Does It Make Sense Financially?

The first question to ask is if it makes sense financially. Assisted living facilities or ALFs, depending on the level of care (meal preparation, medication management and bathing), can run anywhere between $1,000 and $7,000 monthly. The average cost is $2,500-$3,500 monthly.

The median national cost for a nursing home facility is $212/day or $77,380 per year for a semi-private room and $240/day or $87,600 per year for a private room. Click here for more stats.

Continuing Care Communities or CCRCs are a popular option for the 55+ generation. These facilities offer everything for the active, healthy members from yoga, tennis, and golf to light housekeeping, transportation, and landscaping. Many require a financial investment up front of anywhere between $20,000 for a rental agreement to half a million for a purchase. The outstanding benefit of these CCRCs is the ability to move from one level of care to another without leaving the community. In addition to the substantial entrance fee, there is also a monthly fee for services averaging around $1,000/month.

Insurance Coverage

Many insurance policies will cover for a variety of care options, including nursing home care, assisted living, or in-home care. Medicaid may also cover for different types of long-term care for those below the income threshold.

Will you leave
thousands of dollars on the table
by taking Social Security
at the wrong time? Find out.

The eligibility process can be complex and there is a five year "look back" period where they will require all financial statements before they will determine an applicant's eligibility status. With proper asset management and planning, much of an individual's retirement cost may be covered by Medicaid. Often, the help of a Medicaid consulting and planning company may be advisable to guide one through the many nuances, including the "spend down" procedure where assets are allocated for future expenses, bringing one below the resource limit.

Choosing the right retirement option may not happen overnight but the main thing is to plan ahead and enjoy the leisure of the "golden years." As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "People do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing."


Sarah Schwarcz is a Business Development Rep and Staff Writer at Senior Planning Services, an industry leader in guiding seniors and their families through the Medicaid maze. Sarah loves nature, blogging, and spending time with her family. For more facts and figures on retirement communities, go to APlaceForMom.com. Visit here for information on Medicaid planning.

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