After spending a lifetime taking care of a family and working hard, many seniors look forward to living in a senior community and enjoying a comfortable retirement. To many, this is a dream come true – a permanent vacation, full of leisurely activities and relaxation.
Most senior living communities offer amenities such as health clubs, meals, transportation services, housekeeping, and trips. These programs are wonderful, but all come with a price. It is very important to research your future senior living community, to ensure that you understand and can afford to pay all the associated costs.
While doing your research, make a list of all the amenities you expect to have in your new community and get the cost for each, in writing. Take your time in doing your research, and take notes on each property for the overall costs.
Costs to consider are:
- Cost to live in the community (to buy or rent). This cost is usually funded by the sale of a home.
- Monthly fees. This includes meals, sports memberships, transportation, landscaping or maintenance.
- Additional services, such as housekeeping, laundry, beauty salon services, meals for visitors.
- Health Care costs, based on need.
When visiting senior living communities, schedule the visits for different times of the day, to observe regular activity. How are meal times? Does the food look and smell good? What type of activities are there? How is the interaction of staff and residents?
Price fees will typically be outlined in brochures and reviewed with a customer service representative. Prices are subject to change, and that is an important matter to discuss during the interview process – what prompts a change in the price? How will the costs change if the level of service needed by the resident changes? Are there annual rent increases? What kind of increase is expected? Are there any hidden fees? Ask what your senior loved ones might expect as an annual expense. Can they opt out of services that they don’t need? Is there room for negotiation? Read all the fine print carefully.
Another important question to ask is whether any of the fees are tax-deductible. Seniors who itemize their deductions can deduct medical expenses (including nursing services) which exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. Entrance fees and monthly expenses may be tax-deductible also. You should check with a tax advisor on this aspect – bring the contract to an accountant for review before making a decision.