Life Care communities come with an entrance fee that reflects the cost of homeownership in the area, so it’s not uncommon for prospective members to take their time deciding to join.
“I’m too young and energetic to think about this kind of solution,” “I’m not sure we can afford it” and “I’m not ready to move” are common delaying tactics heard in the sales office─but the truth is that it’s a big financial commitment and many don’t know what to expect.
They want to join, but want to wait a little bit longer until they are more likely to need long-term care.
There’s a problem with this scenario, though, and it usually catches the prospective member by surprise. Then, when they want to join, they suddenly find themselves not able to meet the health criteria for independent living.
If you’re on the fence, these signs might be a solid indication you’ve waited too long.
1. You’re showing early signs of dementia.
Once someone shows signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia, they can’t join a Life Care community. Light memory issues that are a normal process of aging are okay, but anything more significant is a barrier.
If they develop it after joining, it’s not a problem and their care is covered, but if a diagnoses arrives before they join, they’re excluded. Even if they’ve signed initial paperwork for the community but not yet made the final commitment, they wouldn’t be able to meet the final health screening criteria required for move-in.
If it’s a spouse or part of a couple, the healthy spouse without dementia would be fully covered if the screening criteria are met, but the diagnosed spouse would be offered a different type of coverage that doesn’t cover the costs of care. They could still move in, but it wouldn’t be the same plan they were initially considering.
One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia, according to the latest statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, and more than 15 million American’s provide unpaid care for them.
Life Care ensures this care and the associated costs won’t be a burden on your family.
2. A sudden hand tremor indicates Parkinson’s disease or ALS.
The list of excluded health conditions are minimal, but like dementia, other neurological diseases can prevent someone from joining a Life Care community. Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) are both on the list of exclusions. If you have concerns about these types of diseases, you’ve probably waited too long to join.
The health screening process includes a close look at the prospects medical records and lab work, in addition to the community’s own screening professionals. Anything someone has seen a doctor for will likely be included in the records, so if you’ve spoken to a health care professional about your concerns or signs of these conditions, it could be enough to exclude you from joining the community.
3. Diabetes is turning into something more.
An existing diagnosis of diabetes won’t exclude someone from joining the Life Care community, although they will be required to meet ongoing standards of disease management to control the disease. Other factors may influence the final decision, however, since diabetes increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes can lead to heart disease.
During the screening process, the prospective member’s health will be scrutinized for signs that diabetes is influencing the onset of other diseases or conditions. If signs are there, the member may be denied coverage.
4. New difficulties managing tasks of daily living.
As an independent living community, Life Care communities require their members to manage normal tasks of daily living on their own, such as bathing, preparing meals and toileting. An inability to do this indicates a need for assisted living, instead of independent living.
If the lack of independence is temporary, such as the result of a knee replacement surgery or fall, the prospective member may be able to join the Life Care community once their independence is restored.
Once they are already living in the community, changes to their independence would be completely covered as a benefit of residency, of course. The costs or even full coverage of all costs would depend on the plan they chose when moving in. Each plan with its associated levels of benefits have a different entrance fee and monthly fee that’s required.
5. Some types of cancer diagnoses.
Cancer is common, especially for certain types as we get older. Whether or not a cancer diagnosis results in someone failing the health screening for a Life Care community can depend on many factors. The type of cancer and its prognosis, the stage of initial diagnosis and other factors require a close look, and the final decision is a delicate balance of the anticipated cost of care and impact to the patient’s ability to live independently.
If a prospective member is diagnosed with cancer before moving in, it can cause them to fail the health screening process and is a sign they’ve probably waited too long.
6. A financial crisis evaporates a lifetime of retirement savings.
Stock markets shift and downturns happen, sometimes resulting in major financial losses. Along with the health screening processes, Life Care communities do have a financial screening to ensure they can afford the entrance fee and other expenses that come with living in the community.
If something changes in their financial circumstances after move-in, it’s not an issue. Life Care provides a guarantee of housing and care no matter what their financial circumstances are, as long as it’s a result of something outside of their control. (Shopping habits or giving away their wealth to other family members wouldn’t count, of course, but another Great Depression would!)
If the financial losses happen before they’ve officially joined the community, it would exclude them from being approved. A prospect must be able to pay the required expenses.
Interestingly enough, the entrance fee doesn’t necessarily need to be paid with cash, however. Some members donate their paid-off home to the community as collateral to be used for the membership fee.
Life can change quickly, and someone who qualifies to join one day can suddenly find themselves ineligible the next. Other circumstances can also change eligibility that aren’t covered in this article, too, so it’s important to discuss this topic in detail with the community you’re considering to thoroughly understand what is required.
Are you undecided because you have questions that haven’t been answered yet, or because you’re waiting until long-term care might be necessary? Don’t let life make the decision for you.
Ready to learn more about Life Care, your eligibility and how it pays for future care needs? Register for a Life Care workshop today and bring your questions! To speak to someone directly, please contact Jackie Lusson, our corporate director of sales, at 623-236-3767 or Jackie.Lusson@sunhealthsl.org.