By: Deb Hipp featuring Faith Bandklayder of Welcome Home Senior Services and Placement Company
Many senior living communities offer apartment-style living and daily meals, along with amenities and services like transportation assistance, fitness classes, events and activities. Luxury senior living communities, however, take these amenities and services up a notch, creating spaces that feel more like five-star resorts than places to retire.
From waterfront living to urban high rises, luxury senior living accommodations have much to offer older adults who can afford a more lavish lifestyle as they age.
What Is a Luxury Senior Living Community?
Luxury senior living communities offer stylish homes typically in desirable locations, as well as services and amenities much like those you’d enjoy on vacation at a posh resort or hotel.
Residents usually live in spacious apartments, often featuring balconies or patios. The apartments usually include high-end kitchen appliances, laundry machines and other desirable perks.
Depending on the community, amenities may include spas and hair salons, restaurants, swimming pools, fitness centers, golf courses and theaters. Services may include housekeeping, grocery shopping and delivery, transportation and some health services, such as onsite appointments with visiting doctors.
Luxury senior living communities can also offer various levels of support, including independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care. Life plan communities specifically can provide a continuum of care that enables residents to move to a higher level of care in the event they might need additional services as they age. Many of these communities charge rent on a monthly basis.
Who Should Consider Luxury Senior Living?
People with enough retirement savings, income and/or long-term care insurance coverage that pays for luxury senior living may find this type of community’s high-end accommodations, amenities and services ideal for their healthy aging plan.
“If someone is already living a luxury lifestyle in their own home, they’re going to want that in a community and most likely would be able to afford it,” says Faith Bandklayder, president of Welcome Home Senior Services and Placement in Miami.
Active and engaged older adults in particular can benefit from the amenities and services offered by luxury senior living communities. Meanwhile, people navigating life with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and those who need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) can also thrive in a luxury community that provides assisted living and memory care services.
What to Look for in a Luxury Senior Living Community When touring luxury senior living communities, there’s more to consider than just impressive lobbies, amenities and common areas. Most people seeking luxury senior living don’t plan to move again, says Bandklayder.
“Look for a community that could handle whatever needs could arise going forward as your loved one ages,” says Bandklayder. Consider:
The benefits of a senior living community that offers the full continuum of care, limiting the potential need to switch facilities in the future if care needs increase
A community’s rent payment structure
A community’s proximity to high-quality hospitals and other health care facilities
A community’s proximity to family and friends
The availability of scheduled and unscheduled transportation services
Whether the community accepts long-term care insurance
The level of staffing within the community
Dining options and the community’s ability to accommodate a range of dietary needs
The availability of visiting doctors, physical therapists, nurses and other health care providers
Whether the community offers residents a trial period in case it’s not a good fit for them
During your tours, it’s also important to speak with residents who currently live in these communities to learn about their experiences.
Luxury senior living communities abound in urban, suburban and rural areas. Many are located on or near desirable natural settings like beaches, lakes, deserts, mountains and lush pastoral grounds. Luxury senior living communities are often close to restaurants, theaters and city attractions as well.
The long list of amenities offered by most luxury senior living communities helps keep residents active and engaged, which can have a clear impact on both physical and mental health. Luxury senior living amenities may include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
Housekeeping and Laundry Services
“In most luxury communities, staff will do a resident’s laundry in their apartment for them,” says Bandklayder.
Salon and Spa Services
Most luxury senior living communities offer hair salons, and many go a step further, offering manicures, pedicures, massage therapy and other spa services.
Luxury senior living communities typically offer a selection of fine and casual dining options. Residents typically choose chef-prepared meals from full menus rather than limited options. Some luxury communities provide room service as well.
Fitness and Wellness Activities
Residents can often enjoy well-equipped fitness centers, yoga and other fitness classes onsite. The community may provide wellness and nutrition counseling and physical therapy, too.
What’s more, many luxury senior living communities have heated swimming pools, tennis courts, walking trails, golf courses and other resort-style activities and amenities.
Residents can typically go shopping and attend other local events and appointments by using the community’s scheduled or unscheduled transportation services.
Onsite Cinema and Library Access
Many luxury senior living communities offer theater-style movie viewing and a library with luxurious furnishings, fireplaces and other cozy appointments.
Pet Care Services
Some luxury senior living communities offer dog walking, grooming and/or pet sitting services as well.
“Luxury senior living communities have a higher level of social stimulation than the average senior living community,” says Bandklayder. For example, the staff might invite professors from local universities to speak or conduct advanced brain exercises to help residents sharpen their cognitive skills.
“They may hire a former cruise director or someone with a similar background who can really take charge of the social hour and bring a higher level of entertainment than the average senior living community,” adds Bandklayder. “They may bring in pianists or other instrumental music, singers, dance recitals … all kinds of things.”
When choosing a luxury senior living community, look closely at its accessibility features. As your loved one ages, they may need to use elevators, wheelchair ramps, handrails and other tools to help with mobility challenges.
Most luxury senior living communities are well-staffed, says Bandklayder. The number of staff and the hours they work is less important in independent living environments because the residents don’t need hands-on assistance. When it comes to other types of senior living, however, staffing is crucial.
When choosing a luxury community, make sure the staffing exceeds your state’s minimum standard for assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing, says Bandklayder. To find your state’s staffing requirements, contact the state department responsible for assisted living regulations.
Many luxury senior living communities offer basic health services like health monitoring, and some may have visiting doctors who see residents on a rotating basis. The community may have a nurse on staff 24/7 as well. Other health care services may include rehabilitation, physical therapy, in-home care and assisted living services like medication management.
In a life plan community, the continuum of care includes more extensive health care services for residents in memory care and skilled nursing settings.
How Much Does Luxury Senior Living Cost?
The cost of luxury senior living is steep. Monthly rent ranges from $6,000 to more than $12,000 in southern Florida, says Bandklayder. On average, luxury senior living costs about 30% more than non-luxury senior living communities. For the sake of comparison, the national median monthly cost of residing in an assisted living community is $4,500, according to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
“Cost also depends on the services the residents require,” says Bandklayder. “If they’re in independent living, they’re not getting any personal assistance, but if they’re in assisted living, they’re going to use more services. So that [utilization] is a big factor in [determining] how much the cost would be.”
Life Plan communities charge a hefty entrance fee as well. Instead of accepting monthly rent, these communities require a long-term contract, with fees ranging from $100,000 to upward of $700,000. Depending on contract terms, the resident’s heirs may or may not receive a portion of any remaining entrance fee funds after their death.
Life Plan communities also require proof of assets. “Some luxury communities require $1 million or $2 million in personal wealth,” says Bandklayder. When researching communities, it’s also important to ask what happens should a resident run out of assets.
If the cost of luxury senior living exceeds your loved one’s budget, don’t rule out a more affordable community with similar amenities and services.
“There are some nice communities that aren’t at this level that still offer good amenities—and they’re less expensive,” says Bandklayder. Just remember: Aesthetics are only one element to consider. Pay close attention to the staff and their interactions with residents to get a true sense of care provided in a particular community.
Does Insurance Pay for Luxury Senior Living?
Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, don’t cover long-term care in senior living communities. Long-term care insurance may cover luxury assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing care. However, it doesn’t usually cover independent living.
Link to Original Article: https://www.forbes.com/health/healthy-aging/luxury-senior-living/
Cost of Care Survey. Genworth Financial. Accessed 6/8/2022.
The Perks and Advantages of Luxury Senior Living. Long-Term Care Consumer. Accessed 6/8/2022.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities 2021 Reference Guide. North Carolina Department of Insurance. Accessed 6/8/2022.
What Long-Term Care Insurance Covers. Longtermcare.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 6/8/2022.