Addressing long-term care issues: the benefits of Life Care

By Ann Lovell

Grandpa Gets a Kiss

RICHMOND, Virginia—Long-term care: It’s a topic most Americans know they should talk about but might rather not. Questions such as: “Who will take care of me?” “What level of health care can I afford?” and “Who will take care of my spouse?” are issues that should be addressed well before significant health concerns arise.

These discussions become even more essential as the U.S. population ages. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be 65 or older by 2030. The Wall Street Journal reported in a May 1, 2015, article that more than two-thirds of individuals age 65 and older will require some type of long-term care. Yet, while a 2013 national survey found that 90 percent of Americans believed it was important to have end-of-life care discussions with their families, less than 30 percent had actually done so.

It’s time to have the discussion — and a good place to start is by understanding Life Care.

In its simplest terms, Life Care means residency in an apartment or cottage along with comprehensive health care services and amenities. Most Life Care communities — and all LifeSpire of Virginia communities —provide independent living, assisted living and full-time nursing care in one location. As a result, residents have the security of knowing that short- and/or long-term health care needs will be met on-site with no substantial increases in cost. Often referred to as an “all-inclusive plan,” Life Care acts as a safety net against the future high costs of long-term care.

Phases of Life Care

  • Independent Living: Life Care begins with independent living, emphasizing wellness and encouraging residents to maintain good health for an active and independent lifestyle. In LifeSpire communities, this means a spacious cottage or apartment with a wide array of on-site amenities including a health clinic, physical therapy, fitness center, regular health checks and other activities and programs. However, Life Care goes beyond independent living. In LifeSpire communities, residents also have access to assisted living and nursing care around the clock. As a result, residents are never far from their spouse or friends while they receive the additional services they need.
  • Assisted Living: Assisted living is an “in-between” residential service for those who are independent but need some assistance with the activities of daily living. In LifeSpire communities, residents receive personal care support and services such as meals, medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation.
  • Nursing Care: In many cases, nursing care is required only briefly, such as after a hospital stay. In those cases, the emphasis is on helping residents rehabilitate and recuperate as quickly as possible so they can return to their apartment or cottage. In other cases, a condition might be chronic or progressive, requiring a longer stay in the Health Services Center.

The benefits of Life Care

  • Steady long-term care costs: No matter how long a stay is required in assisted living or nursing care, Life Care provides residents the services they need on-site for as long as necessary. Beyond the regular monthly fees paid for an apartment or cottage residence, the only additional costs for assisted living and/or nursing care cover two additional daily meals and ancillary charges, such as medical supplies and pharmacy. This arrangement helps protect a resident’s estate by keeping health care costs steady even as health needs increase.
  • Tax benefits: The Internal Revenue Service considers a portion of the entrance fee paid the year a resident moves in and monthly fees paid each year of residency as “pre-paid medical expenses.” As such, a resident may add part of those fees as itemized health care costs for possible income tax deductions. The portion of the fees used in this manner varies by community and from year to year. Contact a tax adviser for more information.
  • Affordability: The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that the median annual cost for a private nursing home is $91,250, and 24-hour care can reach $170,000, according to a study from Genworth Financial. Life Care in a LifeSpire community is much more affordable. For example, the industry average in Virginia for one year of nursing home care for a single person is a little more than $100,000. Factoring in the additional cost of home maintenance, home health care may reach as much as $200,000. However, with a Life Care contract in a LifeSpire community, a resident’s monthly fee of approximately $50,000 does not increase as additional nursing care is required.
  • Quality of Life: According to a 1997 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who live in continuing care retirement communities generally live longer than those who stay in their homes. CCRCs also reduce the risk of disease and disability and improve the health of their residents. By combining a variety of services that affect overall wellness of residents, including activities and sports facilities, LifeSpire CCRCs encourage seniors to take responsibility for maintaining their personal health.

Life Care allows seniors in LifeSpire communities to take control of their future and proactively choose where and with whom they will live while receiving the care they may need. This provides peace of mind and the opportunity to spare loved ones from the stress of making a difficult decision in a time of crisis.

By selecting a Life Care community with a reputation for exceptional care — like one of the four LifeSpire communities — residents can be certain that if care is needed the best will be available.

Call or email us to schedule a tour of one of our four LifeSpire communities:

Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, an equal housing opportunity provider. Contact her at alovell@lifespireliving.org or at (804)521-9192.