Are You Ready for the Sticker Shock of Long-term Care?

I recently read an article in the Boston Globe about a theme-based retirement community set to open later this year in Daytona Beach, Florida. Since I work in the long-term care insurance industry, it caught my attention.

Jimmy Buffett is expanding his Margaritaville brand to include a new kind of retirement community – Latitude Margaritaville. It’s the ultimate aging in place option for adults over 55 who want to “grow older, not grow up.”

Buffett envisions a tropical community where retirees can stay at home as long as possible in an invigorating environment.

Being surrounded by like-minded people, and accessing facilities designed for a healthy lifestyle are two essential benefits.

Latitude Margaritaville features 7,000 moderately priced homes in a walkable neighborhood. It has a town center, resort-style amenities, and an on-site Margaritaville-style restaurant. Also, a private club with shuttle access, and a bandshell for live musical entertainment give it added punch.

According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, 87% of people over 65 want to age in place (stay in their own homes), so Buffett’s foray into themed-retirement communities is on point. But Buffett isn’t the only one working on new housing models for aging adults.

There are countless innovative choices to consider these days, including DIY villages, intergenerational community living, granny pods, and even new alternatives to nursing care facilities for those who need the highest level of long-term care.

Let’s take a look at a few options.


Aging in Place

Adults over 65 almost universally prefer the idea of staying in their own homes as they age. When both spouses live at home, couples tend to take care of each other. It gets trickier, especially for women who are likely to outlive their partners, when living alone.

Innovative community services provide support, like senior centers, meal programs, and Uber ASSIST, which offers on-call senior transportation. Paid homemaker services and home health aides help seniors live independently longer.

Telehealth technologies like Teladoc can provide on-demand remote medical care to support people aging in place and their caregivers.

Average cost: $90,376 annually – $44,616 homemaker services, $45,760 home health services (excludes home modification costs)

Is long-term care insurance worth it?  Unless you have a large pile of cash that you don’t mind spending on long-term care, LTCi is a good investment.


The Village Movement

Many seniors are turning to each other for help with their long-term care.

A few years back, a group of seniors wanting to remain independent as long as possible, and not wanting to burden their families, formed Beacon Hill Village. It’s a grassroots DIY shared services association. Participants support and care for each other.

They’ve since developed a manual for others who want to start a village. Now, there are over 140 villages around the world.

They’ve also designed a free information exchange with Village to Village Network, which provides villages with an open source platform for sharing ideas worldwide.

 Average cost: $675 for individual and $975 for household annual memberships, plus discounted shared home care and home health care services, and free transportation services.


Long-term Care and the Young

The National Institute on Aging makes connections between social isolation and mental and physical disorders.

So, some long-term care facilities are creating intergenerational communities like the one at Providence Mount St. Vincent, which houses a preschool. They foster engagement between elderly residents and over 100 preschool kids, documented in the film Present Perfect.

In another model, college students in Cleveland, Ohio, are living at Judson Manor retirement home. They interact with residents, often developing close relationships, and in return receive free room and board while in college.

These intergenerational communities have proven to affect the well-being of elders dramatically.

Average cost: residential nursing care semi-private room, $81,000, private room $90,500.


Living with Family Caregivers

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance Fact Sheet, over 65 million informal (unpaid) and family caregivers are providing long-term care for an ill, disabled, or aging person in the U.S. And nearly 15 million of those care for someone with Alzheimer’s, or some other form of dementia.

Moving in with family is increasingly common when an aging parent can no longer live alone. It is the only option for many people when there is no money for formal care.

The problem is the huge financial burden it places on the family, who, on average, provides care from eight to 12 years.

Average cost to working caregivers: $324,044 per woman, $283,716 per man (family care), or $90,376 annually (formal care)

When should I buy long-term care insurance? You have to do it when you’re healthy, ideally in your 50s or sooner, for some. Ask us about your options.


Tiny Homes, Granny Pods, and Med Cottages

Tiny houses, med cottages, or granny pods are sustainable green homes usually under 500 square feet.

These individual houses maximize an elder’s autonomy, giving them a sense of privacy and independence. They are located on a family caregiver’s property and afford caregivers the opportunity to be conveniently close at hand.

The homes also have a small carbon footprint, which reduces building costs for families and keeps communities green.

Finally, they are packed with medical technology and mobile devices to make aging in place safer and more comfortable. You can think of a med cottage as long-term care for one.

Average cost: $85,000 to $125,000 to build, plus caregiver expenses


New Nursing Care Alternatives

The industry trend in nursing care is a move toward person-centered care that emphasizes home-style living. They have family-style dining, community connections, indoor/outdoor living, rehabilitative care, and emerging technologies. 

Elders are a part of the decision-making process. There are no rules or other restrictions. Not only are residents empowered to guide their own lives, but they’re encouraged to care for each other.

Three cutting-edge examples are the Household Model, Eden Alternative, and The Greenhouse Project.

In all three models, residents are given a home that provides them with comfort and safety, a chance to engage in community when they want, and a refuge to maintain their privacy when they need it.

Redesigned long-term care facilities have autonomous households of 14 to 20 residents with their own shared kitchen, dining room, living room, and other spaces like a den, patio, or front porch.

The Greenhouse Project offers community-based homes for 10 to 12 residents. All rooms are private with en-suite bathrooms.

Average cost: residential nursing care semi-private room, $81,000, private room $90,500.

Making the Right Long-term Care Choice for You

These are a few of many choices to start thinking about and planning for now.

No matter which choice resonated with you, the costs of your future long-term care may have come as a surprise. Underestimating the cost of living longer lives after retirement is one of the biggest shocks aging adults face. 

If you have questions about planning for your long-term care, give us a call toll-free at 844-805-3557.


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(Sources: AARP Livable Communities: Great Places for All Ages, and Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey)