When it’s time to begin thinking about long-term care options for yourself or a loved one, a little preparation can go a long way.
This holds true whether you’re searching well in advance of needing long-term care or must move more quickly due to unforeseen circumstances.
Either way, understanding the costs and level of care associated with two popular long-term care options—senior living communities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)—can give you confidence as you proceed.
Notes Before You Begin Your Search
If you have already acknowledged you or a family member may one day need some level of care, you are ahead of the game. Many people do not consider their options until illness or infirmity demand a decision be made.
Exploring options does not mean you or a family member will necessarily need long-term care down the road. Studies show about one-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term support.
But approximately one-fifth of this same population will need care for more than 5 years.1 Most people wish to stay in their homes as long as possible. Planning early gives you more say and flexibility—and relieves other family members from having to make decisions for you.
Senior Living Communities: No Guarantee of Ongoing Care
Many people find the difference between senior living communities and CCRCs a little confusing. There are important differences, however, both in levels of care available and costs.
Senior living communities include independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Typically, there is no fee (other than a deposit) to move in. Rent is paid month-to-month and costs depend on location, amenities, and level of care.
In the Portland area, residents of a senior living community can expect to pay between $4,000 and $8,000 in monthly fees. In 2021, average monthly costs for assisted living in the Rose City were about $5,000—roughly $500 more than the national average.
Unlike CCRCs, there is no guarantee of care at senior living communities. If a resident’s medical need becomes too great, they can be asked to leave at any time.
CCRCs: Care for a Lifetime
Structured to provide all the care a person could need for the rest of their life, CCRCs ensure access to advanced healthcare support such as assisted living or memory care without the hassle of moving.
Most CCRCs require residents to be in good health upon moving in.
In keeping with the range of care offered, CCRCs typically have hefty entrance fees. In the Portland area, these fees range widely, from $100,000 to $1 million+, depending on the unit and types of amenities a facility offers.
The upside: Regardless of your health in the future, you will not need to relocate.
If a resident moves or passes away early, most CCRCs will refund a portion of the entrance fee, the amount amortized over a period of time. Refund amounts can be anywhere from 50% to 90% of the entrance fee.
Monthly fees, in addition to the entrance fee, are comparable to those of senior living facilities and vary based on facility location, amenities, and level of care. These fees typically cover most or all living expenses such as housekeeping, meals, utilities, transportation, and so on.
Good to Know: Costs Are Trending Upward
Since 2004, national average assisted living costs have increased 4.65% per year.2
Demand for care, a shortage of qualified health care workers, caregiver turnover, and increasingly complex care needs contribute to rising costs, which are anticipated to continue on an upward trajectory.
Medical expenses for those who live at both senior living communities and CCRCs are tax deductible on the portion of costs that surpass 7.5% of a person’s adjusted gross income.
In many cases, long-term care insurance can also be used to cover monthly fees, but it is important to acknowledge that long-term care benefits are typically triggered by an individual’s inability to perform two of the activities of daily living.
An Important Conversation
When it’s time to look at retirement living options, there’s no one size fits all solution. But there’s one clear way to ensure a better experience: plan ahead.
By evaluating long-term care options today, you stand to improve the quality of your later years, ease the burden of choice that can sometimes fall to other family members, and enjoy peace of mind in your later years.
1 LongTermCare.gov. LTC Home | ACL Administration for Community Living. Accessed October 11, 2022.
2 Genworth. Cost of Care Trends & Insights. Median Cost of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, & Home Care. Accessed October 11, 2022.