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When Is the Right Time to Move to a Life Care Community?

Category: Life Care or CCRC

October 26, 2021 — For most people, the answer to the question of the right time for moving to a Life Care community is – “when I get older”. It pretty much doesn’t matter how old the person is at the time, some undefined date in the future is always the answer. True, a minority make the decision when they are in their 60s or early 70s, but they are the outliers, often with a good reason for doing so.

Topretirements has some good friends who have wrestled with this decision for years. Their current situation, unfortunately, illustrates the problem so many people will face. He is in his mid 90s and she in her early 80s. She has wanted for some time to move from their town home into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC, often known as a Life Care Community). He, however, is never quite ready. Fortunately, they did put a deposit down at a Connecticut CCRC, but used a decision to wait for one of the larger units as a way to delay the move. Now a serious medical incident has required an extended hospital stay with an uncertain future, and he is ready to take any unit that comes up. Although it looks like their deposit has secured them a place, they are about to have a very rough patch ahead as two elderly people with mobility problems have to deal with moving a jam-packed town home’s contents into a much smaller apartment.

The average age of people who move to a Life Care community is between 75 and 85 years of age. These communities would love to move that age downward because younger residents offer stability and less turnover. Since services provided to older residents in assisted living and nursing care cost much more than those provided to independent living residents, more younger people means greater profitability too.

What is a Life Care or Continuing Care Community?

Galloway Ridge in NC is a very popular CCRC

The three main types of housing available to seniors are independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes. Life Care and CCRCs are unique in that they provide all three services in one package. You can move in and live in an independent living apartment or home, take advantage of assisted living if you have a medical setback (temporary or permanent), and move to nursing care if you are unable to take care of yourself at all. If a couple moves into a CCRC facility and only one of them requires the advance services, the other can continue to live in their independent living home. The model offers (at a considerable price) the security and peace of mind that you won’t have to ever move again, and, more importantly, that you will be taken care of and a burden to no one. The fees for these communities usually include one or two meals a day in their restaurant, extensive amenities like indoor pools and activity directors, and luxurious facilities. Entry fees can cost from several hundred thousand to a million dollars, in addition to monthly fees in the thousands. Some portion of the entry fee is usually refundable, depending.

Advantages of moving as a younger person

In a US News & Reports article on “When to Move into a CCRC“, an expert cited several advantages to moving sooner rather than later. The first is reduced financial risk, as you can lock in a fixed monthly rate that will be far lower than what it would cost should you ever have to move into an assisted living facility. The second is social. By moving in early you have time to make friends and avoid an abrupt transition late in life. For people who have lost a partner, or fear they will soon, being in a social environment earlier can help overcome some of the loneliness and loss in their lives. A third advantage is related to the financial risk – by moving before you have medical troubles (e.g., our friends mentioned above), you have the security and peace of mind that comes with knowing who will be taking care of you, that you are guaranteed that care, and that your partner/spouse will be able to live in the same facility as you. These facilities usually require a medical examination, and can either deny you entrance or charge a much higher fee if it looks like you are going to need extra care early.

On the downside of moving earlier, people give up some things. Usually the move is to a smaller home, so prized possessions and a sense of space may have to be sacrificed. Living in a communal setting means losing some privacy. Many people will be bothered because moving to a senior facility is unmistakable evidence that you have grown old.

Personal opinions

The decision of when to move into a Life Care facility is personal. As we said earlier, most people delay too long, then something bad happens and they are forced to pull the trigger. My own attitude is similar. I am pretty sure that Mrs. Topretirements and I will move into one sooner or later, if we are lucky enough to live long enough. The question is when, and under what circumstances. Should one of us develop a serious condition that is going to require daily care, like Parkinsons or dementia, we would do it sooner (but knowing we might have to pay extra because of our medical condition). If both of us can’t drive, that would be a trigger. Should we move into a facility in the state where we have our summer home, or where we snowbird in Florida? That question fuels more uncertainty. Eighty years of age seems to young – is ninety better? What shape we are in will be a determinant. Could we keep one of our homes and live part of the year in the CCRC, at least for the first few years? Some people can afford to do that as it is a good compromise that offers security and some independence.

More opinions

We looked at Comments in some of our past Blogs that touched on CCRCs to see what our Members have said. There were many valuable comments, some of which we are including here:


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CCRC’s offer great potential, but there are several big risks. First, the CCRC services and facilities can change over time with new management or weakened finances. We have friends who loved their CCRC when they first moved into it, but with a change of management, they think the services and facilities have significantly deteriorated over time. With the one-time, non-refundable entrance fee for life care, they feel stuck in a place they no longer enjoy.

Second, although most CCRC’s allow residents as young as age 62, I think the average entrance age is typically somewhere between age 75 and 80 so the average age of residents is often well into the 80’s. I think it is important to fit reasonably into the age of the residents of a CCRC.

Third, a CCRC is sometimes likened to a monastic way of life, not because of austerity since most are quite nice, but because one is committing to live with a group of people for the rest of our lives. So, it is important to make sure that we can fit into the “culture” of the residents for what matters to us (religion, education, political views, activities, military, etc). It can be hard to live as an outsider. Again, CCRC’s appear to be a beautiful possibility for aging, but we need to perform our own due diligence to minimize the risks associated with CCRC’s. —- Everette

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Here’s a checklist of questions if you’re considering a CCRC: http://www.carepathways.com/checklist-ccrc.cfm
Source: Care Pathways
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredits CCRCs (www.carf.org).
Because CCRC contracts can be fairly complex, it’s a good idea to review them with a financial planner, an accountant, or an attorney. And, you or your “money person” should look at the financial statements of the CCRC, too.
If you’re in poor health when you enter a CCRC, you could be paying a lot of money for a little time. But for those with the financial means, a CCRC can provide great peace of mind. — Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

As we are just in our early 60s we don’t feel we are quite ready to pay all the monthly fees, nor utilize all the services that are common in a CCRC . It is, however, our goal to eventually end up in such a place since our children are spread out across the country and we will be on our own. Flatearth6

So, my important advice is to involve your extended family in the choice of facilities. And have them monitor the business end of the place. Also, chose one close to family, if possible. You are anticipating health and ability deterioration over time so someone will need to pick up the slack for you. Make it easy on them! — Lulu

 “One of the best pieces of advice we have heard about retirement is to take the long view, rather than just focusing on the early years.” When we were considering Galloway Ridge , we were like you — in our early 60s. Just 5 or 6 years later we still are happy with our decision, but changes in our health and physical condition have caused us to make changes to our budget in order to allow someone else to help maintain our home. Age related issues don’t just creep up on you — they can happen in leaps and bounds. — Rich


Bottom line:
CCRCs and Life Care Communities are a great option that can provide security and permanence for one’s older years. There is a substantial cost to them with the entrance fee and monthly costs. Not everyone can afford them, although if one sells their home they probably have enough equity to cover the entrance fee. Compared to the cost for assisted living or nursing homes over many years, they can be a good deal.

Comments? Are you considering a move to a CCRC, and if so, what is the right age for you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:

Posted by Admin on October 26th, 2021

What to Know When Choosing a Medicare Plan

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 20, 2021 – As we pointed out last week we are now in the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which ends December 7. This is the time to re-evaluate your plan and change it if your circumstances have evolved, or you are unhappy with the plan you have. To help out with that process, we going to give a brief summary of some key points from an excellent article that came out last week in the Wall Street Journal, “8 Things to Know When Choosing a Medicare Plan“.

Neal Templin wrote this helpful article and we recommend reading it for more detail (we hope the link above will allow you to access it without being a subscriber). Templin says that when it comes to Medicare you have three choices: Regular Medicare (Parts A, B, and D), Medicare plus a private supplemental plan (some people call it Medigap or traditional Medicare), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). The decision for which one to pick is complicated and depends on your own personal situation.

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Posted by Admin on October 19th, 2021

I’m Thinking About Retiring in: New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

October 18, 2021 – Editors Note: This is part of our series comparing various states as places to retire, such as “Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC for Retirement“. There is a list of all of “Dueling” comparisons at the end of this article. We welcome ideas for future ones.

Not everybody heads to the Sunbelt once they hit retirement age. Many people don’t mind cold weather, and they love the idea of being in a state with mountains and a beautiful natural environment. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are extremely popular choices that fit that bill; each state has many admirers. Many snowbirds live in these northern New England states and get the best of both worlds by heading south in the winter (and a few people do the reverse).

This article will first compare some basic facts about retirement in each state. In Part 2 you will see the actual (slightly edited for space) words of Topretirements Members who have lived or retired in each state, so you see what they are like straight from the horse’s mouth. Concerning those comments, we got a big surprise using a new tool that allowed us to see which states were mentioned the most. We assumed the most popular state in the comments would be New Hampshire, which has a reputation for being tax-friendly. To our surprise, Maine, with 287 mentions, was overwhelmingly the most discussed. Vermont had 69, and New Hampshire came in last with 56. When we looked at readership of other Topretirements pages by state, Maine came out on top there too – a lot of people are intrigued by it. So much our popularity predictions!

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Posted by Admin on October 17th, 2021

Record Social Security COLA Coming

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

October 13, 2021 — Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will receive a record 5.9 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2022. It is the largest COLA since 1982. The increase is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2020 through the third quarter of 2021. It translates to a $92 monthly increases for the average Social Security recipient, which will be welcome news to people seeing consumer prices rising all around them because of the pandemic and worldwide shortages. According to the SSA, 37% of men and 42% of women get at least half their income from Social Security.

The maximum taxable earnings (OASI) for 2022 will increase from $142,800 to $147,000 in 2022. The retirement earnings exemption limit increases by $600 to $19,560 ($1 withheld for every $2 dollar over that until Full Retirement Age). In the year someone reaches Full Retirement Age the exemption limit increases by $1,440 to $51,960 ($1 deducted for every $3 over the limit). Here is a link to the Social Security Fact Sheet.

Comments? Do you think the COLA will be enough to offset what you are seeing happen to your budget? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Overlooking Spousal Benefit Could Leave Him Clipping Coupons

Posted by Admin on October 13th, 2021

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period Starts

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 13, 2021 – The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare starts this week on October 15 and ends December. 7. It is an important event for eligible people not currently enrolled in the plan, or who want to change plans or some component of their current plan.

During Open Enrollment, eligible people can sign up for Medicare. They can compare coverage options like Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and choose health and prescription drug plans for 2021. Medicare Advantage plans have started to outsell original Medicare policies because of their increased coverages and low (even zero) premiums. If you are thinking about switching to a Medicare Advantage plan (or type of plan within Medicare Advantage), this is the time to do it. See Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage – Which Is Better for You?

Medicare Plan Finder. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year-to-year. CMS urges Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs. CMS’s Medicare Plan Finder makes it easier for beneficiaries to:

  • Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies;
  • Compare coverage options on their smartphones and tablets;
  • Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side;
  • Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits;
  • Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets their needs.
  • Free, personalized counseling on Medicare options is also available through the nonprofit State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Highlights for 2021 Open Enrollment include:

  •  The average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month, compared to $21.22 in 2021, while projected enrollment continues to increase. The average 2022 premium for Part D coverage will be $33 per month, compared to $31.47 in 2021.
  • Part B Medicare premiums for 2022 have not been released yet, but some experts predict an estimated 6.2% premium increase, with monthly costs jumping from $148.50 to $157.70.

Note: Most of the above information is from the Medicare.gov website. For more about see Medicare Open Enrollment.

For further reading:

What Is Your Medicare IQ

What You Need to Know About Medigap Insurance

Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage – Which Is Better for You?

Comments? Do you ever change your Medicare plan, or do you tend to stick with the same one over and over? Please share your experience in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on October 12th, 2021

Finding the Best State for Retirement Is Personal

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

October 11, 2021 — Moving to a new state when you retire is not a decision to be made lightly. Only a tiny percentage of retirees make a move that significant, but when they do they usually do it for important reasons.  Often they trade in a valuable home in a high-priced market for a less expensive but nicer one in the Sunbelt somewhere, getting warmer winters and a friendlier tax environment in the bargain. They might move to a more age-appropriate home in a state where they can live the lifestyle they dreamed about. Or they might change states to be near family or friends.

If you choose to move or not, this is a very personal decision. Consulting lists of the “best states for retirement” might give you some ideas, but ultimately you need to choose based on the lifestyle, cost of living, taxes, politics, and culture, that will lead you to a happy retirement.

The most popular states for retirement

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Posted by Admin on October 11th, 2021

Most Snowbirds Are Renters, Travel by Car

Category: Retirement Planning

October 6, 2021 — The results of last week’s survey on snowbirds are in. Many thanks to the community spirited folks that filled it out! While we can all speculate about snowbird behavior, it is satisfying and interesting to find out what people like you do in the real world. The results are roughly consistent with our 2018 survey on this topic, which had a much larger response rate. You can compare those results as well as find a link to Part 2 of that report, which lists ideal snowbird pairings and many comments from people who snowbird, here.

Overall

Most of the people who completed it are snowbirds, which reflects a natural interest in the topic. The results show a great variety of when people leave for the winter and how long they stay. Some of the most interesting results were comments about how people found their winter place, and how Covid has affected their plans. We have summarized the results for each question below, which we hope might be useful in your own snowbirding lives.

  1. Will you go somewhere warm this winter (be a snowbird), and for how long.

Most of the people taking the survey were snowbirds. There were roughly equal numbers who will go away for periods from 1 to six month. One fourth plan on snowbirding for less than a month.

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Posted by Admin on October 5th, 2021

Daily Alert Miscues

Category: General Retirement Issues

October 3, 2021 — Subscribers to our Daily Alert were probably confused on Sunday, Oct. 3 when they received 3 copies of the same email. We are sorry about that. Probably as a result of our server being bombarded by someone try to index our content, the Oct 1 and Oct 2 emails were delayed or didn’t go out at all. Then the system tried to catch up and sent all 3 on Sunday.

We think we have found the problem and apologize for the delays and occasional multiple copies.

Posted by Admin on October 3rd, 2021

Are Better Hearing Aids in Your Future?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 1, 2021 — No one wants to wear a hearing aid. They can be unsightly, embarrassing, and usually don’t work well in noisy situations. They are also very expensive ($2,000 to $12,000 a pair), and generally not covered by any kind of insurance, including Medicare. Unfortunately, if your hearing is bad enough, not wearing one leads to being shut out of the conversation and social isolation. Fortunately there might be less expensive, and more effective ones coming on the market.

Jane Brody recently wrote an article in the NY Times that promises some hope: “Will Hearing Aids Ever Be Hip“. While two thirds of people over 70 suffer from hearing loss, only 20% of adults who could benefit from a hearing aid use one. Clearly there is a demand for a better product.

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Posted by Admin on October 1st, 2021

2021 Snowbirding Survey

Category: Retirement Planning

September 28, 2021 — Among retirees a popular conversation starter is always – where, when, if, and how you are going somewhere warm for the winter season. We are curious about your plans for this winter, including if Covid has had any impact on your plans. Please take this very short, 8 question survey. We will report on it in detail in next week’s newsletter. Thanks for your insights!

Here is the link to the survey:

https://trsurveys.survey.fm/snowbirding-you-survey-2021

Posted by Admin on September 28th, 2021