What is Hospice?

iStock_000001461778_LargeThe end of life is a topic that makes most people uncomfortable.  It’s not something that we like to talk about, and the word “hospice” is just another word that most people associate with death. While it’s true that hospice is a type of treatment that is only for patients in their last months of life, there are some things that distinguish hospice from other care:

Hospice is about keeping patients and their families comfortable.  Hospice was created to provide an alternative to traditional hospital passing.  The focus is not on prolonging life at all costs.  Instead, hospice nurses and physicians aim to ease patient suffering and help family members cope.  Compared to a hospital, where patients often receive invasive and painful medical procedures in an effort to avoid death, hospice patients receive medication and care with the sole purpose of decreasing suffering.

Hospice and palliative care are similar, but not quite the same thing.  Palliative care is a type of medicine designed to help patients deal with any severe illness.  Hospice, on the other hand, is specifically for people who have had a terminal diagnosis.

Hospice requires physician certification.  Because hospice is only for patients who are in their last six months of life, you have to have a doctor’s permission to be admitted to a hospice program.  Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance cover hospice care in most cases. If you or a loved one are facing a terminal illness, talk to your physicians about how to manage pain, discomfort, and other problems.

Is a CCRC an investment?

In case you missed it the first time, here’s a classic Senior Housing Move.com post.
It’s no secret that entrance fee CCRC’s can be very expensive.  Most seniors sell their homes in order to pay the entrance fee.  With that big of a commitment, it’s not a surprise that people think of entrance fees as an investment.

But is it really a fair classification?  There are several reason that it is not: Residents don’t actually own their own apartment; instead they have a life lease.  If real estate prices rise and the community starts charging more for its apartments, the current resident doesn’t benefit.

As far as I know, there’s no way to actually make money off of a CCRC contract.  Most people actually lose part of their entrance fee due to selecting contracts that have refundabilities of less than 100%.

On the other hand, a CCRC is a huge commitment.  If you think of an investment as an activity that helps secure your future, then your entrance fee is most certainly an investment.  Since your time in the community is valuable, investigating all aspects of the process can help ensure that there are no nasty surprises following the move.

Investors have a term for this process: due diligence.  Due diligence is a period of time prior to completing a deal where the potential investor does all of the research necessary to know if the investment is actually a good idea.  If it isn’t, then the investor can withdraw from the contract and move on to other prospects.

Just as investors complete due diligence, potential CCRC residents should take their time and find out whether or not the community is a good fit.  This includes:

  • Understanding your budget and whether or not the CCRC fees are affordable.
  • Reading and understanding the Resident Agreement and Disclosure Statement.
  • Visiting the community and meeting residents.

Ultimately, a CCRC is not really an investment in the traditional sense.  It is, however, a large commitment, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Should I choose the 50% refundable or 100% refundable entrance fee?

In case you missed it the first time, here’s a classic Senior Housing Move.com post.
You’ve done most of the work!  You have picked a community and an apartment that you like.  The community offers two different refundability options for this apartment.  All that’s left is to decide on the type of contract to pick.  Which one should you choose?

Let me walk you through the decision.

First of all, you’ll notice that the lower refundability contract is “more expensive” than that higher refundability contract.  For instance, if you have a 100% refundable, $100,000 contract, you would expect the 50% refundable contract to be $50,000.

That’s almost never the case.  It’s higher.  The 50% refundable contract will set you back about $70,000.  The reason for this is simple: the community prefers that you choose the 100% refundable contract.

Like most people, retirement communities prefer more money rather than less.  It helps them to get a bigger entrance fee, since they can use the money for other things during the time that you live in the community.  (There’s a certain amount of money that communities keep on hand for entrance fee refunds, but beyond that, they can use the money as they see fit.)

That’s why the 50% refundable contract is usually not as good of a deal as the 100%.  However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t choose the 50%.  There are two reasons that residents decide on lower entrance fee contracts:

  • They have lower assets and can’t afford to pay the 100% entrance fee, and
  • They don’t care as much about their estate getting a refund after they die.

For those that have sufficient assets and want a refund for their children and loved ones, the higher refundability options are usually the best bet.  It just depends on who you are and what you want out of senior housing.

Spring Cleaning: Help Prevent Accidents by Improving Your Home

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Spring is just around the corner, and while you’re busy getting ready for the big thaw, you might spend a little bit of time preparing your home for the coming year.  Since falls are such a common injury for seniors, it’s important to make sure that your home is a safe place.  Here are a few tips:

Get rid of clutter.  It’s easy to accumulate clutter over the years, and it’s even easier to let it begin to creep into areas where it can cause problems.  If there’s furniture or other clutter that you’ve been meaning to get rid of, now’s the time. 

Repair frayed carpet or rugs.  Do you have area rugs that won’t stay down or carpet that catches your shoe when you walk by?  There are prime tripping hazards and should be fixed as soon as possible.

Repair steps and railings.  Take a look at how you enter your home.  Are the walkways safe?  Are there steps that aren’t properly fitted?  There are also tripping hazards that should be addressed.

Install rails in key areas.  Installing grab bars in the bathroom and other key areas can help you avoid lengthy hospital visits. 

While it can take time to complete these repairs, a fall can be a devastating injury.  Taking a few days each year to improve one’s home can make a big difference in preventing injuries.

Call for Questions

It’s 2014 now, and I’ve been blogging about senior housing now for three years.  I’ve covered almost all the topics that I can think to cover.  That’s where you come in.  Do you have a burning question about senior housing?  Shoot me an email: Questions@SeniorHousingMove.com.  If I can answer it in a blog post so that everybody benefits from it, I will.