Moving On Up: Senior Living Options at a Life Plan Community

  |   By Sally Abrahms

How life plan continuing care retirement communities support couples as health needs change

Nancy Fischer has advice for all of the dancers out there: “Don’t ever dance in rubber-soled shoes on a smooth surface.”

A resident of Windsor, a HumanGood senior living community in Glendale, California, Nancy was enjoying a visit from her son, daughter and three granddaughters to celebrate her granddaughter’s birthday.

“I was feeling this huge surge of love and joy, so I went dancing into the tea room,” she said. “And then my shoe slipped and I went bam.”

It wasn’t quite the birthday bash Nancy had envisioned. She wound up in the emergency room and then had surgery on her hip. After spending nearly a week recovering in the hospital, followed by two weeks in its rehabilitation center, she returned to Windsor to continue receiving care in the community she calls home.

But she didn’t immediately return to her residential living apartment—she needed additional physical therapy and other assistance, so she spent several days in Windsor’s short-term rehabilitation center.

The twice-daily therapy was strenuous but, she said, "the staff was excellent." And being back home at Windsor helped with her recovery.

“I’ve been around and people know me—everyone knows everyone—so it was like being at home with a lot of help and therapy,” she said.

Once she was back in residential living, Nancy realized that having an onsite health center allowed for an easy transition because she wasn’t going to a strange or unfamiliar place.

Her bird Dulcie, who has since passed away and was named for the character Dulcinea in “Man of La Mancha,” didn’t have a difficult transition, either. The sales office staff took care of herand Nancy reported that Dulcie had a great time and enjoyed the extra attention.

How Do Life Plan Communities Work?

Life Plan Communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs) like HumanGood's Windsor offer multiple types of living and levels of care, all on one campus, including:

  • Independent living.
  • Assisted living.
  • Short-term, post-acute rehabilitation.
  • Long-term skilled nursing.
  • Memory care.

Advanced care services are available for unanticipated life events, like Nancy’s dance party mishap and short-term rehabilitation afterward or for long-term health changes. When you first move to a community, the staff will work with you to make sure you find the right fit for living.

Entrance Fees

In many senior living communities, residents pay an entrance fee that is dependent on the size of their unit and the level of care they receive when they move in, among other factors. If you have a spouse or partner, the entrance fee doesn’t change, but the monthly fee adjusts to cover both of your needs.

Monthly Fees

As a Life Plan Community resident, you have flexibility. For example, if you're an independent living resident and need to move temporarily to short-term rehabilitation or assisted living but plan to return to your independent living home, it will be waiting for you. You’ll continue to pay your regular monthly fee and be billed for rehab servicesor your insurance will pick up the tab.

However, if you or your spouse leave residential living permanently in order to move to assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care, your monthly fee could change to reflect the care received. 

Additional Care Options

At times, you may need extra help managing medications or with other personal care services, but you may not need all of the specialized care services you’d receive in a more advanced level of care. In these cases, you can stay in residential living and use in-home care services for what you need. Every community works slightly differently, so be sure to ask about the availability of this service. 

At Redwood Terrace, a HumanGood community in Escondido, California, these services are called Support Plus, and residential living residents pay à la carte for extra services they need, whether it’s help with showering, managing medications or something else.

Life Plan Communities are about far more than just care. Residents live active, meaningful lives filled with purpose and become part of a family. With advanced health care services available in the place that residents know and lovewith familiar faces nearbytransitions are easier.

The Convenience of Life Plan Communities

Bob and Jackie Wistort are residents of Redwood Terrace, just five miles from their old home in Rancho Bernardo. While the area is familiar, that’s not why they chose the community.

Besides loving the Life Plan concept, Bob, a retired engineer, wanted a place where he could continue his woodworking hobby, and Redwood Terrace allowed him to move some of his equipment to a workshop there.

Bob leaves his apartment every day at 9 a.m. and heads to his home away from home. With the help of power saws, drill presses and other equipment, Bob crafts carvings, cane toppers and bowls. Next up, he’s working on a rooster.

Once, Bob had to take a break from woodworking when he fell in the workshop and fractured his hip in two places. The surgery was complicated, and he required rigorous rehab after leaving the hospital—and the “where” was easy.

Rather than having to scramble to find a rehab facility he liked or that had room, living in a Life Plan Community meant Bob could return home to Redwood Terrace and spend time in the community's health center, where he had access to short-term rehabilitation services. And it couldn’t have been any more convenient—the Wistorts’ cottage is just 500 feet from the skilled nursing building.

“It was comforting to know that my wife, Jackie, was nearby and she didn’t have to go a long distance to see me,” said Bob.

Jackie could visit Bob at the health center as much as she wanted and was able to bring their beloved six-pound toy poodle, Cookie, too. According to Bob, having multiple levels of care on the same campus gives him and his wife a sense of security—just in case.

The Peace of Mind in Life Plan Communities

Harriet Pearson didn’t have to worry when her late husband needed extra care. As residents of Regents Point, a HumanGood community in Irvine, California, Harriet's husband was able to move between different levels of care on campus when he was sick, including a stay at Regents Point’s skilled nursing center.

And Harriet herself also has experience moving between levels of care. Once, she fell and broke her hip. Then, she broke her other hip while putting groceries away. Harriet had placed a six-pack of soda on the floor while unloading her purchases and then tripped over it while going to answer the phone. 

“I thought, 'How could this possibly happen?'” Harriet said. “I play lots of bridge and am on the Regents Point council and the grounds committee chairman, and I was going to miss all those activities. I hoped everyone would miss me.”

Clearly they did. Friends took the short walk to see her and brought whatever she needed: from clothes to her cell phone, tablet and mail. They offered encouragement, poking their heads in the door to say hi.

“If I were in another center that didn’t have advanced care services, that would not have happened,” said Harriet. “People would not have driven to see me.”

I have friends who don’t have this opportunity; they worry what they’re going to do if they need different care,” she said.

Having one-stop health care has also been a godsend to Harriet's family, who has son who lives two hours away in Palm Springs.

“Believe me, he was very happy I was at Regents Point,” she said. “He knew I was getting excellent care and that I had friends and he didn’t have to be here every day. He couldn’t have even if he had wanted to.”

The Benefits of Life Plan Communities

Today, Life Plan Communities offer a range of amenities and wellness programs in an opportunity-rich environment to help older adults stay independent, healthy, engaged and active in mind, body and spirit. Some of the biggest benefits of community living include: 

  • Peace of mind: If your health care needs change, you never have to worry about looking for a new community. Moves are often precipitated by a health event, and decisions are sometimes made hastily, without time for due diligence. At a Life Plan Community, you don’t have to start over again in a new community and be uprooted from friends if you need advanced health care. Familiarity makes a move easier and feelings of isolation less likely.
  • Predictable costs: You know what the costs are at every level, including what you’ll need to spend for extra support.
  • Attention to detail: This could mean help with housekeeping, a dinner you didn’t have to shop for or cook, beautifully maintained grounds, rides to cultural events or appointments and on-campus activities. 
  • Priority access to care: As a Life Plan Community resident, you'll have priority access to advanced care services with no wait lists in sight. 
  • Avoid isolation: One of the biggest benefits of senior living community is that it can help older adults avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. In community living, meaningful friendships blossom and your social calendar can be as full as you'd like it to be. 

Senior Living Care Options at a Life Plan Community

Life Plan Communities (also known as a continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs) offer residents access to various types of living and care options all on one campus.

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