When you’re planning to retire, one of the first things to come up for consideration is whether it’s worth moving into a retirement community. The ultimate decision normally depends on the amenities and costs.
Of course, pinning down costs can be tricky, as there are so many factors that come into play, ranging from where you plan to retire, to the types of amenities you select, to the level of health care you’ll need.
To help you sort it all out, here’s a quick guide on what you can expect to pay for amenities when you move to a retirement community. What Kinds of Amenities are Available in Retirement Communities?
In a residential setting, amenities are features and services designed to make life a little nicer, healthier, or more convenient. Here are some examples:
Amenities You Might Find in a Retirement Community:
- 24-hour security
- Transportation for residents
- Patio or balcony
- Fitness centerand fitness classes
- Community center
- Performing Arts Centers
- On-site bank
- On-site post office
- On-site shopping
- On-site salon/barber
- Sports areas, such as putting greens, bocce ball courts and tennis courts
- Game room
- Classroomsfor continuing education, plus hobby classes like painting, woodworking, etc.
- Areas for religious services
- Walking paths and nature trails
- Yoga studio
- Shared laundry room, washer/dryer in the unit, or a laundry service
- Storage for each unit
What About Different Levels of Care?
The level of health care that’s offered in a retirement community depends on the type of community that you choose. There are three main types of retirement communities, listed below in order of the level of medical care they offer, from least to most.
- Independent Living
- Assisted Living
- Skilled Nursing
Many communities also offer an additional level, called Memory Care. This is for residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or other types of Dementia and who need a different kind of ’round-the-clock’ care and more security.
How to Know Which Level You Need
Independent living is the type of retirement community environment with the least amount of medical care needed. This is typically for healthy adults who want to enjoy the benefits of a community (leaf and snow removal, classes and hobbies, great activities, etc.) while still enjoying their independence.
When a resident begins to require a higher level of care or assistance, that’s when he or she may choose to move from independent living to assisted living. As examples, some residents require assistance with common daily chores and tasks like getting dressed, cooking, and cleaning. These activities don’t require medical staff, but they do require a higher level of care than what you’d expect to find in independent living arrangements. Therefore, residents who require assistance in this manner typically choose ‘assisted living’ communities.
Bottom line: when residents require a higher level of medical care, they may need to choose a different type of senior living plan, one which covers the type of care that they require. In some instances, special services can be added a la carte to an existing plan. And if you live in a Continuing Care Retirement Community, you can move to and from the level of healthcare needed, without leaving your current community. Read on to learn more. What About the Costs of Different Levels of Care?
As you might expect, the higher you go up the ladder of care levels, the more you can expect to pay. In that regard, skilled nursing will almost cost more than independent living.
However, there is a type of community that’s sensitive to the changing needs of an aging population. It’s called a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC. These communities typically include all three levels of care, from independent to assisted living to skilled nursing or even memory care. If and when you should require assistance with daily tasks and chores, or you need easier access to medical staff, you move to the part of the community that can offer you what you want or need, without having to leave the campus and friends you’ve grown to consider your home.
CCRCs offer plans for residents who want peace of mind knowing that if they someday need more care, it will be available to them. If you choose to live in a CCRC, you have the option of entering the community when you’re still relatively independent and you don’t require much levels of care beyond regular visits to your doctor for routine care. The aim is to keep monthly fees down even when you require more care. It’s something to consider, since around two-thirds of seniors will need long term care in the future, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Thinking about moving to an Independent Living Community? Read What is the Average Cost of a Senior Independent Living Community to learn more.
With that in mind, here are some average costs for retirement community amenities for the year 2018, when these figures were last provided.
Assisted Living: $4,000 Per Month
- This cost covers daily meals, help with your medication, personal mobility, dressing, transportation, and bathing.
- Amenities that might cost extra depending on your community would include salon visits, extra activities like off-site cultural events, and physical therapy. But on-site social activities, fitness classes and other types of classes are often covered in the basic monthly fee. It’s important to ask a particular communityabout these specifics if you are interested in living there. Every community is different.
Considering your retirement options? Looking for a community that offers security and independence? Read about alternatives to nursing homes.
Skilled Nursing: $7,441 – $8,365 Per Month
- These communities usually offer a choice between a private room and a semi-private room, which explains the range of average costs.
- There is medical staff on site 24 hours per day and residents are given complete care and service.
Living at Home: $4,004 and Up
- Just to compare costs of retirement living, it’s helpful to know what average costs are for the type of care and assistance you might require if choosing to live in the home where you live now.
- The average cost in 2018 of homemaker services was $4,004.
- The average cost in 2018 of a home health aidewas $4,195.
- Then add the monthly costs associated with keeping up your own home, including taxes and utilities
- Then add the monthly costs of groceries and supplies, chores like shoveling snow and raking leaves, etc.
Also keep in mind that CCRCs may require an initial entrance fee in addition to monthly rent. This is to help cover the increased medical costs as you age.
Considering staying in your home after you retire? Read Should I Sell My House When I Retire?
One Last Word…
Finding a new place to live may seem intimidating at first. But the more you know, the better off you’ll be when you start making your decisions. There are lots of wonderful retirement communities across the country, each with its own flavor, amenities and costs. But the bottom line is, you have a choice and the more you know, the easier it will be to choose a community that’s right for you.
For more information on retirement, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities:
- 5 Retirement Community Myths Dispelled
- How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?
- 5 Tips for Staying Sane When Downsizing Your Home for Retirement