Retirement Communities: 3 Questions You Need to Ask

August 9, 2018

Thinking about joining a retirement community? That could be a wise decision. Many retirement communities offer activities, amenities and the chance to socialize with peers. In many cases, communities offer unique housing and services for different phases of retirement. You may transition over time from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care.

Your retirement community lets you enjoy your independence while also having access to nearby support and medical providers if needed. You also get a built-in network of fellow retirees, which can help prevent loneliness and isolation in your later years. Socialization can be an effective way to minimize the risk of health issues and cognitive disorders.

Before you sign the contract, though, it’s important to do your due diligence and ask tough questions. Every community will put its best face forward during the sales process. Not all communities are the same, however. Below are a few questions to ask so you can make the most informed decision:

Is the community financially stable?

When you move into a retirement community, you expect it to be your final home. As mentioned, you may transition through the various phases of the community—from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing—throughout your retirement. You could be there for years or even several decades.

For you to take full advantage of the community’s services, however, the community has to be around for the long haul. After all, you may have to pay a hefty upfront deposit and significant monthly payments. If the community should fail, you may not get a return of those funds.

Ask about the community’s finances before you move in. What’s the occupancy rate? A high level of vacancies could be a red flag. Can you see the community’s balance sheet? What happens to your deposit and monthly payments if the community can’t stay solvent? These questions and others are valid and justified, so ask as many as you need to feel confident with your decision.

Do any services have an additional cost?

As you tour a retirement community, you will likely see flashy marketing materials that highlight fun activities and luxurious amenities. However, those items aren’t always included in your initial deposit and monthly payments. Many communities offer premium services and amenities for an extra cost.

For example, group outings could cost extra. While the community may have an association with a local golf or tennis club, you may have to pay membership dues to join. Also, it’s possible that your costs may change if you transition to assisted living or skilled nursing care. Ask plenty of questions to see how the costs will add up now and in the future.

Is the community covered by your long-term care policy?

Long-term care may not be your top priority right now, especially if you’re healthy and relatively young. However, it’s possible that you may need to move to assisted living or skilled nursing in the future. If so, you’ll likely want to take advantage of your long-term care insurance.

Check with your insurer to make sure that this community and its various levels of care are in fact covered by your policy. If they’re not, find out why and whether it’s possible to gain coverage. It would be unfortunate to pay a large deposit for a community and then find out after-the-fact that it’s not covered under your insurance.

Ready to develop your retirement strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Grand Canyon Planning Associates. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.