Today, seniors want to enjoy their lives, remain as independent as possible, and stay active through daily activities. For many, continuing to reside within their homes can become more stressful as physical abilities wane and health issues arise, requiring more care. During this transition, seniors may choose to investigate living within a senior community that provides the extra attention needed yet still encourages an independent lifestyle. Residing in a retirement residence setting is not for everyone and requires deliberation and a certain level of financial capability.
What Are Continuing Care Retirement Communities?
Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs for short, have been in existence for many years and offer a hierarchy of care from independent living through assisted living to skilled nursing as individual needs increase. For seniors currently living in their own homes, the move to a CCRC is a big step, sometimes complicated by the emotional factor of losing a loved one or a reluctant acceptance of more limited abilities.
The best part of CCRCs is that they offer life-enriching activities, comfort, and security. New residents can choose from apartments, condominiums, or townhome-style accommodation, depending on what is available at their desired location based on their budget.
Modern seniors no longer wish to be categorized as ‘old’ and ‘infirm’ which are restrictive and marginalizing terms. Therefore, many communities across the US are switching from the title of CCRC to a more proper terminology, Life Plan Community. While both terms describe the same type of community, the new title reflects how today’s seniors want to be regarded as well as the residence experience.
Life Plan Community: The New CCRC
While senior communities may offer one category of residence, such as independent-only or assisted-only, Life Plan Communities (LPCs) are communities offering tiered lifestyle living with healthcare options in one location. They provide a variety of amenities that appeal to all levels of physical ability and, in some cases, memory care. Seniors can enjoy an active and fulfilling lifestyle yet benefit from a professional, trained staff that takes care of mundane chores, giving them more time to enjoy their days.
Each LPC will vary in what they include within their packages. However, most offer a standard list of services as part of their lease agreement that includes:
- Multiple restaurant-style dining options and serving times.
- Wellness programs such as swimming, fitness classes, fitness equipment, and walking trails.
- Lounge areas for socializing and communal areas such as a library and computer room.
- Entertainment, games rooms, and special onsite and offsite events.
- Daily living services like personal alarm systems, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation.
- Community services like maintenance, landscaping, utilities, and security.
For those seniors who still drive, LPCs usually include parking.
Levels of Care Available in a Life Plan Community
An essential aspect of retirement living in an LPC is determining the level of care. Let’s take a closer look at the levels of care, also referred to as the continuum of care, found at Life Plan Communities.
Residents in independent living continue their lives the way they want to, enhanced by the added peace of mind that comes from knowing that they have access to increased services should the need arise.
For those residents who need extra assistance during the day with light tasks, such as medication prompting, bathing, or dressing, the assisted living option is perfectly tailored to an individual’s basic support needs. This next level within an LPC helps seniors retain much of their independence without compromising their sense of dignity.
The highest level of care usually found within a Life Plan Community provides nursing and rehabilitation services for residents that require more long-term and intensive support. Services may include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, and nurses skilled and vetted in advanced medication delivery, such as administering injectable insulin to people with diabetes.
Would I Enjoy Residing in a Life Plan Community?
One of the most significant advantages of LPCs for seniors is the social aspect. For people who have lost spouses and friends, loneliness and isolation can seriously be a detriment to well-being. Residents enjoy the ability to meet new people in similar circumstances and form new friendships. Community events and group social hours help keep people engaged and involved.
Most residents are also free to invite guests to their new home whenever they choose, and some LPCs have the resources to make dining and overnight visits available.
Life Plan Community Fee Structure
When considering moving into a CCRC or Life Plan Community, there are always several vital aspects to consider in addition to the budget, level of care required, and amenities. An important step is to review the contractual obligations expected by both parties, and these contracts usually favor the providers and are not always subject to any negotiation.
Most Life Plan Communities have entrance and refund fees within their monthly fee structure. In addition, while the state of California reviews all LPC contracts to determine if they meet the statutory requirements, they don’t protect consumers from waivers of provider liability, termination protection, and other weak contractual obligations. It behooves potential residents to thoroughly review the contract or lease agreement with a trusted resource that has their interests in mind before committing. Some contracts also offer a no refund or refund option that will affect the entrance fee amount and require discussion and consideration based on the circumstances of the individual(s) contemplating the move to an LPC.
Consult An Expert Before Signing Your LPC Contract
California law states that contracts between an LPC and potential resident can be mutually terminated within a ninety-day trial period without any penalties levied. However, contracts may contain language that prohibits withdrawal of assets that may instigate contract termination. Life Plan Communities may also terminate an agreement within the ninety days for reasons not well-defined in the statute, merely for ‘good and sufficient cause.’
Entrance fees can vary in price range, and some are higher than others. Depending on the Life Plan Community, a refund due to declining health, family relocation, or death is issued within a specific time frame, decreasing by percentages until the amount reaches zero. The longer the resident remains at the LPC, the less the refund, usually within the first fifty months of residency. In many cases, refunds are issued after the unit has been vacated and may be withheld until the arrival of a new occupant.
Warner Center Life Plan Community
Don’t let contracts frighten you from considering a Life Plan Community. Most communities are managed with honesty, integrity, and genuine care for those who choose to live in their facility. If potential residents, with the help of their families, perform their due diligence when researching possible locations, the move could be one that vastly enriches the twilight years. In addition, many of the new communities being built have expanded their amenities and are designed with beautiful landscaping and superb attention to detail.
A new development in the Woodland Hills area of California is an outstanding example of what a Life Plan Community will offer in the future. It will offer approximately seventeen acres of beautifully designed, deluxe housing units and landscaped grounds. Located close to the new Promenade development, the Warner Center Life Plan Community promises multiple six-story structures with over six hundred residential units meeting all aspects of independent, assisted, and memory care units, with amenities that ensure its residents can live their lives to their fullest potential.