“Retirement homes” have come a long way, baby.
Navigating the world of senior communities–from independent “active” communities, to assisted livings, to continuing care communities, to nursing homes–can be daunting. I know. I just spent an amazing amount of time researching and touring communities in our area. If you think it’s hard finding a place for yourself, try finding a place for your mom! And I’m in the business!
The resources out there to help are, surprisingly, not very substantive. There are ‘referral’ services that I found to be shallow and not very good listeners and so were a complete waste of time. There is a very good magazine that served as a starting point: the Sourcebook from Retirement Living. Though it’s primarily a big book of ads, at least it’s a list of communities to start with and their charts are a great way to quickly cull the communities that will work for your situation. It’s worth an in person visit to a few different places, and make sure that you come armed with an interview guide you have thought through in advance. (I’ll work on another post with mine, but if you need one feel free to email directly and I’m happy to share.) They all have their pitch and are very good at the tours so you may forget to ask about some of the items that are particularly important to your situation.
There are many excellent communities in our area, but you may be surprised to know that there are widely different financial models for different types of communities. Some are pay-as-you-go, similar to a rental apartment. Others have a ‘buy in’ fee up front, which can quickly run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some are refundable, some partially, some not at all. And yet others are ‘life contract’ communities where the fee is steep, but it ‘guarantees’ you a stable and consistent fee regardless of the level of care you need, which can be a huge benefit to someone on a fixed income like most retirees. Obviously financial and estate planning will play a huge role in your decision, so start pulling together a list of assets as well as a detailed monthly budget early in the process.
Most communities are not real estate ‘sales’ that go through a traditional real estate agent (though there are a few notable exceptions in our area, like Leisure World and the Jefferson at Ballston). However, having just gone through the process, I’m more than happy to share with you my ‘lessons learned’ so far. I would love to ‘pay it forward’ and give anyone a head start on the process. It’s hard enough juggling our own lives every day, and throwing in such a huge research project on top of daily living can seem overwhelming at first. Just shoot me an email and I’ll see if I can help.
And if you know a senior looking to buy or sell in the DC area, I’d be happy to help with that too 🙂