6 Key Considerations For Your Life Plan Decision Process

Christwood pond with egret in flight

Financially, emotionally and from a practical perspective, choosing a Life Plan Community (also known as a continuing care retirement community or CCRC) is a big decision. After all, this is a choice that will impact your quality of life, health, happiness and wallet for years to come. To help make the Life Plan decision process easier and more manageable, we have simplified the sometimes-overwhelming list of deciding factors into six key areas that consumers should evaluate when considering a Life Plan.

1. Residences & Amenities

When looking at a Life Plan Community like Christwood, among the easier things to assess are the physical campus and the various amenities provided by the community. Take several tours of the community’s residences, considering different floor plans and features, and then contemplate what is most important to you.

Here at Christwood, our expansive 117-acre campus inspires residents to enjoy sunshine and wildlife however they choose. Our community includes a nature sanctuary, flower gardens, walking paths, fishing lakes and lush landscaping, giving you plenty of ways to enjoy the fresh air and physical campus. And inside, we offer 17 different independent living floor plans options between cottages and apartment homes to choose from. So either inside or out, you’re able to find the lifestyle that best fits you.

Pink living room space

One of the principal reasons people opt for a Life Plan Community is the continuum of care services they offer. Be sure you look at both the independent living residences as well as the assisted living portion of the community. You want to be confident that you will feel at home once you are settled into your new surroundings, no matter the level of service.

There is also an assortment of amenities that will be provided by a Life Plan Community. These offerings can vary widely from community to community, from basic services to high-end conveniences. You will need to determine which are essential and which, in your opinion, are just nice-to-haves.

Some amenities to look for may include:

  • technology—which helps residents stay safe as well as keep up with the times
  • community gardens, walking trails and manicured grounds
  • transportation services and planned excursions
  • multiple dining options like cafés and bistro-style settings
  • Community Center with a fitness center, pool, and tennis or pickleball courts
  • and concierge-style services and move-in coordinators

2. Contract Details

There are five common types of Life Plan contracts offered among communities: Type A (Life Care), Type B (modified), Type C (fee-for-service), Rental, and Equity/Co-op. When it comes to entry fees (which almost all Life Plans require), some are refundable while others are not (or are only partially refundable).

Life Plan contracts aren’t apples-to-apples. So, comparing the various costs, especially in different parts of the country, can be challenging. It is critical to have a thorough understanding of the contract you are signing and which is right for your particular situation.

3. Quality Of Care

Life Plans offer numerous attractive services and amenities for those living independently. However, remember to keep sight of the primary reason for considering a Life Plan: access to a continuum of care services. You want to be sure that the care services—both assisted living services as well as long-term skilled nursing care services within the on-site healthcare center—will be up to your expectations, should you need them one day.

You will want to do your due diligence research on the care provided by the Life Plan Community. There are a number of resources you can and should explore in order to do this. If the Life Plan’s healthcare facility is Medicare-certified (as opposed to private pay only), you can check out their Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rating. You can also reach out to your state’s long-term care ombudsman program to review any complaints filed against the community.

It’s wise to do some shoe-leather investigating yourself as well. You can visit the healthcare center and observe how residents are being cared for, if the facilities appear clean and well-maintained, and if the staff appears to be content. I also recommend you get some first-hand reviews from the Life Plan’s residents to see what their impressions have been of the care they and their fellow residents have received.

At Christwood, we’re committed to providing exceptional care with our variety of health services. As part of our Life Plan contract, we offer assisted living, skilled nursing care, both short- and long-term rehabilitation services, and memory care. A trusted choice for 25 years, we’re fully licensed and Medicare-approved. So, when you stay with us, you can feel confident about choosing Christwood for your health care needs.

4. Management/Operations

A Life Plan Community is home to its residents, but it is also a business. Like most businesses, Life Plan Communities are usually only as good as their administrators. You want to ensure the Life Plan you are considering is well-managed and in good financial standing.

The financial viability of the community is important in order to ensure that it will be able to provide residents the quality of care and services that are expected and paid for into the future. Consider consulting with an accountant or financial professional who is well-versed in Life Plan contracts and finances to ensure that you will be getting what you expect and have paid for. You will definitely want to be sure the community has set aside the proper level of reserves to meet its commitment to residents in the future.

It’s also wise to understand the leadership structure of the community. Get a feel for the expertise and experience brought by members of the board and ask if residents are involved in a leadership capacity.

Proudly serving Covington area seniors for 25 years, Christwood is a trusted not-for-profit community. Meaning, you can feel confident that resident well-being and engagement is always the top priority. Residents have the freedom to explore and discover passions with different resident clubs and activities. Whether its creating a television show like Bob and Jan Carr, spearheading projects to enhance the outdoor spaces or attending musical concerts, residents are encouraged to fill their time in ways they find fulfilling and enriching.

5. Financial Impact

If you are considering a move to a Life Plan Community, it’s important that you understand exactly how it will impact your personal finances in the long-term. Since cost and contract terms vary dramatically, it can be challenging to determine the ultimate impact on your estate.

If you are comparing multiple communities, you want to be sure you are doing a true comparison of what each will cost so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Consult with your accountant and financial advisor to better understand how the cost of a Life Plan contract will fit into your financial future. You will want to know what’s included in the monthly payment and what is extra. You should also know what the cost of long-term care and nursing care services will cost if/when needed. Often there are trade-offs in what you pay today versus what you pay for care services in the future. Check out our valuable free cost calculator tool to help you determine costs of living at home vs a lifestyle at Christwood.

6. Lifestyle & Wellness

The concept of “lifestyle” relates to the factors that will impact your daily living experience within the community. It makes up the answer to the question, “Will I be happy and comfortable living here?” The Life Plan you choose should foster your lifestyle preferences so that you can live the life you want to live.

“Lifestyle” is a highly individualized concept, so the priorities of one person may be different from another person’s, but important lifestyle-related considerations may include aspects such as:

  • lifelong learning opportunities, dining choices and meal plan flexibility
  • community involvement and volunteer opportunities
  • size and location of the Life Plan—Christwood has 117-acres to roam, explore and take advantage of
  • and general vitality level of the residents who live there.

Life Plans are also touted for the many wellness benefits they offer their residents. From fitness classes to continuing education to nutritious food offerings, a Life Plan’s wellness programs should be designed to nurture residents’ minds, bodies and spirts.

At Christwood, we weave whole-body wellness into everything we do. With our state-of-the-art Community Center, residents and members are free to enhance their health and well-being within our 23,000 square-foot grounds. We offer different activities, contemporary wellness and educational programs, healthy dining, pampering at our Lotus Spa, a pool, and courts and tables for games like pickleball and pool. The best part? Membership is open for adults 55+, so we welcome you to join us in our quest for healthy living!

6 Factors To Streamline Your Life Plan Decision

There are a variety of reasons that make the choice to move to a Life Plan Community more complex than most other senior living options. This is a BIG decision; there is no denying that! However, as you explore various Life Plans and consider different contract types, these six key factors above should remain top of mind.

In the meantime, Christwood is here to answer any questions you may have and help you discover the possibilities of a future with Christwood. And to help ease any decisions, we have resources to help you through the process. You can take a virtual tour of our floor plans before stepping foot on campus, so you already know the lay of the land before visiting. You can also request a free financial planning guide that prompts important questions for you to keep in mind as you think about your retirement needs.

And when you’re ready to visit us on campus, we’re ready for you. Call us at (985) 898-0515 or fill out a form below to set up an appointment or learn more about the opportunities of a retirement lifestyle at Christwood.


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