Last week, I visited one of our clients at her apartment in a continuing care community. She recently celebrated her 90th birthday and has been living independently in her own apartment for six years.
But when we met last week, she told me she had made the decision to to give up some of her independence and move into the facilities’ assisted living wing. She’ll trade her one-bedroom apartment and kitchen for a smaller unit. In return, she’ll be served three meals a day in the dining room with other residents and will get help every day with tasks like making her bed and personal care.
If in the future she needs even more help, she can move to another floor within the same facility or “community” and receive more skilled or intensive nursing care.
That is, of course, one of the benefits of moving into a continuing care facility. You can stay in the same community, and continue with the same group of friends and neighbors, but receive progressively more comprehensive levels of personal care if needed.
Let me give you some background on my client, whom I’ll call Anna (not her real name). She became my client almost a decade ago. She was a retired professional woman with a sharp mind, a can-do New England upbringing, and a love of travel and family. But because of a degenerative condition, she knew the time would come when she could no longer live on her own. The damaging hurricanes our area suffered in 2005 and 2006 (hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma) probably helped underline the challenges of living alone and managing a home as you age.
So Anna wisely made plans to put her apartment up for sale and move into a continuing care community. She looked at several in Florida and elsewhere before making up her mind, and we sold investments to raise funds for her entrance deposit in 2006.
Every day reminds her that she made the right decision, and she has been happy with her living arrangements since then. Anna has always had a perfect sense of timing — knowing when to make plans for the “next step” before it becomes a crisis.
In fact, that’s why Anna first hired us. She knew she needed more personalized investment and financial planning guidance, and wanted to have all her financial affairs handled in one place by someone she could trust. One of the first questions she asked before becoming a client was whether we would stick with her as she aged, even as she needed more care and was at greater risk of spending down her assets. I assured her we would.
And that’s where we are today. Anna is moving on to assisted living care next month, and we continue to look after her finances. At 90, she still uses the internet and reads this blog most weeks. Due to good financial habits on her part and careful oversight on ours, her financial resources should be ample to last throughout her lifetime.
Anna’s story is a great example of proactive financial planning, and an illustration of what we can accomplish together when there is a good fit between client and advisor. Many of our clients have parents or other family members who are Anna’s age, and we urge them to think about and plan for future care needs before it becomes a crisis. We’re happy to share our experiences with you, or direct you to care specialists who can help you make the right decisions for your situation.
Financial Tip: Want to learn more about Continuing Care Communities? Visit the AARP site for helpful information.