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My sister-in-law, a widow and some years older than me, recently arranged a tour of a local independent-living facility. A couple of other relatives and I tagged along for moral support and to see what it was all about. By the end of the tour I didn’t want to leave!
This was a higher-end facility, so not cheap. But it had an interesting approach that I did not know about. Yes, you pay a substantial entrance fee, and a hefty monthly service fee. And to get in you have to show that you can handle your own hygiene, medications, and be mobile enough to get from your apartment to the common area where the dining and activity rooms are. But in addition to the independent living section, there is also an assisted-living wing, and a rehab center. If you have been admitted, and need more care, you don’t pay any extra – your monthly service fee remains the same! You can move to the assisted living wing, or get rehab for as long as you need it, and your costs don’t change.
So the monthly service fee is less like rent and more like insurance. You start our paying more to be there than it really costs, and so subsidize those who use way more services. (If you’ve ever priced nursing home care you know that it can be very expensive.) But paying more up front can be worth it because if your needs change – and let’s face it, they will – you are covered.
The facility itself was great, worlds better than an old-school nursing home. The apartments range from little studios to spacious two-bedroom units. They have kitchens, their own laundry, and balconies. You can make your own meals or go to the dining room and pay very reasonable prices. There are all kinds of activities you can participate in if you want. There’s a library, a greenhouse, a game room. You can have your own car, but there are also shuttles to the supermarket, movies, etc.
And this is Western New York – we get blizzards. They have food stocked up. They have generators. You can ride out a storm and never have to go outside or be bothered by it.
Loneliness is an issue for the elderly, especially those who have lost a spouse. I can see the attraction of having people around to have meals and socialize with. You live longer when you’re not alone. They have residents in their 60s up to over 100.
I’m not ready for this kind of thing yet, but I could see doing it some years down the line. Imagine the peace of mind: no worries about home maintenance, you don’t have to cook if you don’t want to, you’re set if there’s a storm. You have company. When your health declines, arrangements have already been made and it’s affordable. You’ll still have the same people around you.
During the tour we chatted with some residents, and they were all very happy to be there. (Our guide assured us they were not paid shills!) In the end my sister-in-law was not sold on the idea, but I was. Getting in involves 10% down and about a two-year wait, so it’s worth considering before you actually need it.Published in