How to Choose a Senior Living Community by Mike Awadalla, Owner of CarePatrol Walnut Creek

Choosing a Senior Living Community

Speak to anyone who has gone through the process and you’ll hear it over and over again: moving is at the top of the list of life’s most stressful events, ranking higher than getting married or going through a divorce. Selecting a senior living community can raise that stress level even higher. This emotional time is full of feelings ranging from concern about selecting the right senior living community and sadness at leaving the home you’ve created memories in with family and friends. The pressure can feel overwhelming.

At CarePatrol, we’re here to take the fear out of this complex process, helping you to understand the options available to you. As senior living advisors, we will work with you to determine the best options in your area and find one that fits your needs. We are proud to have vetted thousands of senior living options throughout the country. As you start the process, here are some elements to consider that can make the biggest difference to consider — and we’ll always be available to help!

Location is Important

As you would with selecting any new home, it is important to look for communities in areas that you want to live in. Factors that were once essential to consider like the rating of the local school system or proximity to your favorite nightlife may not have the same level of importance. Carefully consider the distance of the community to friends and family, your healthcare providers and favorite places like libraries, shopping and more. Don’t underestimate the difference that a seemingly small distance can make. Try to choose a place that is convenient to the things that matter most to you.

Examine Care Packages

Each senior living community will have a different pricing structure, so deep dive into the details. Take note of the two main pricing agreements, which are care/service packages and monthly rent. Compare apples to apples when putting the costs of two different communities against each other. If one has a lower monthly fee, does it also have fewer service options? Will it give you the elements you are looking for like meal plans and housekeeping services?

Whether you are helping a loved one make this important decision or if the choice is for your future living arrangements, make sure that the care package can aptly accommodate the current condition of the person making the move. Does it offer health monitoring services like personal emergency alerts and telemedicine opportunities? This is where extra fees can increase your monthly costs, so always clarify what is included and which options are not part of the plan.

Having a senior care advisor to advocate on your behalf can be a powerful ally in this process. He or she knows these communities well, can help you figure out the level of care necessary, and even negotiate the right plan for your family.

The Level of Care Needed

Senior living communities come in different forms including assisted living, independent living and nursing homes. These are the main three categories.

Since every person is unique and every situation is different, factors like budget, needs and preferences will help guide the decision-making process.

Explore the services that a community can provide to make sure that it meets your list of requirements. Ask about services like specialized memory care, physical therapy, accessibility features in the building, activities and even if you are allowed to have pets in the building. CarePatrol can assist in prioritizing the aspects you are looking for in a community with a quick assessment.

Social Activities Count

How are the culture and community of the senior living community that you are considering? It is essential to make sure that you factor in this as well as things like cost, location and healthcare support. When a community is a good match for you, your comfort level will increase and it will truly feel like home, increasing your long-term happiness.

Don’t be shy. When you deep dive into communities that are of interest, request a list of amenities available as well as activities that residents can participate in. Do they align with your hobbies and interests? Another item to ask about is an on-site program of exercise classes or equipment to stay physically fit and engaged.

You may be surprised by the number of amenities available to residents at senior living communities, custom-tailored to the passions and activities that people want to explore. There’s no better time to pick up a paintbrush again, spend time in a communal gardening plot or spend time with your furry friends in a pet-friendly area. If a community doesn’t feel like it supports an active and vibrant culture, continue your research, since you may be surprised by the amazing programs that are offered.

Budget For the Short and Long Term

A very real concern for families is determining a budget. Don’t assume that a senior living community is out of your price range. With the substantial cost of upkeep and home maintenance, the services fees for living at a senior community can be comparable. By spending some time breaking down your budget now and making a comparison to communities in a line-by-line fashion, you can see which options make the most sense for your budget and peace of mind.

Future planning is relevant as age can bring new health challenges. Investigate what communities can offer to handle these changes that may occur, especially regarding progressive disease management or unexpected hospitalizations. Look for options like Continuing Care Retirement Communities, also known as CCRCs or Life Plan Communities, which resemble small towns with a variety of housing options. You’ll find a continuum of care options from independent living to rehabilitative care so if and when more care is required, it is available.

Senior Advisors Make All The Difference

With all of the possibilities and options out there, you and your family may feel overwhelmed in making the right decision for yourself or a loved one. Having a trusted advisor at this emotionally charged time will ensure you have the information you need to make the best choice. At CarePatrol, we are proud to offer our intimate knowledge of communities as well as work on your behalf to help ease the stress during community visits and even on move-in day. Our services are available at absolutely no cost to you and we have over 150 locations across the United States. We are the largest senior solutions franchise in the country and we’re humbled to be the brand that Americans trust. We’ve been helping families find senior housing solutions since 1993. Let us help you.

About Mike Awadalla, Owner of Care Patrol Walnut CreekMike Awadalla, Owner of Care Patrol Walnut Creek

Mike considers himself passionate about empowering seniors and their families as they navigate the oftentimes challenging process of finding the best possible senior living scenarios. He carefully evaluates to all of his client’s needs, concerns and preferences before recommending appropriate levels of care such as Independent Living, Assisted Senior Housing, Memory Care, or In-Home Care. Mike went through the same daunting experience recently when he helped find care for a family member on the San Francisco Peninsula. This experience gave him the passion that he has today to help families.

What Will The SECURE Act Mean For My Retirement Plans?

What Will The SECURE Act Mean For My Retirement Plans?

What are your retirement plans? Have you thought about how you will pay for your housing situation? Have you reserved enough money for extra expenses? Will the retirement age change by the time you retire? All of these questions are valid and you should take them into consideration as you grow older. With policies changing regularly, it is critical to stay up-to-date to be prepared for any situation.

In 2019 the senate will decide whether they approve the changes for the current retirement requirements or if they will make any changes at all. With the House of Representatives already approving the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Art), the requirements for new retirement plans will change. If passed, you can expect some changes to be:

  • More part-time positions offering 401(K) plans
  • Contribution to traditional IRA’s (Individual Retirement Arrangements) for as long as desired
  • Penalty-free withdrawals for those who fall into specific groups/circumstances
  • The age for retirement to move from 70 ½ to 72 years of age
  • A requirement to withdraw from inherited retirement accounts within 10 years of retiring

Retirement should be an exciting time, away from confusing language and ever changing politics. For this reason, The Law Offices of Joel A. Harris works hard to provide you with information to make it easier for you to understand the new changes the SECURE Act brings. We are located in Concord, Walnut Creek and Antioch, to be most convenient to our clients. If you would like to visit us in person, by phone at (925) 757-4605 or via website, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help!

What Changes Will I See?

There are quite a few changes that you can expect once the SECURE Act is passed and put into practice. Below are a few changes that you can expect and how you can prepare for them to better your retirement experience:

  • Part-Time 401(K) Options: There is currently a minimum number of hours worked in one year (~1000 hrs.) that decides if a worker is eligible for a 401(K) account. With the SECURE Act part-time workers will become eligible for a 401(K) account, so that they can start adding funds to their future income. If you would like to read more in detail about this change, go here.
  • Inclusion of Academic Income: At the moment, certain academic stipends and non-tuition aid are not treated as income for purposes of IRA contributions. With the SECURE Act in place, these kinds of aid and financial support will be included as a form of income. This means that higher taxes may be paid, but more money may be taken out when needed. If you would like to read more about this, check out this article
  • Removal Of Age Limit For Contributions: The SECURE Act would remove the current age (currently 70 ½ years old) restriction to contribute to a Traditional IRA. This change can be seen as a positive change since the age of retirement may change over time, which would affect the age restriction. If you would like to learn more about this, we recommend that you read this article.
  • Limitations on Tax-Advantages After Death: A benefit that was available to families in the past has been the inheritance of retirement funds. This option became popular in the 1960’s and can still be seen today. With the SECURE Act in place, family members who benefit from retirement inheritance may find themselves with stricter time limits on both the time it takes to withdraw the money, as well as how much can be withdrawn at one time. If you would like to read more, you can go here.
  • Penalty-Free Withdrawals for Birth or Adoption of Child: The changes to the SECURE Act would allow new parents, biological or adoptive, to take up to $5000 from their 401(K), IRA or other retirement accounts. This new change is beneficial for parents since there is also no limit as to how many times a future retiree can use this benefit. It is important to state that new parents should take into consideration their future retirement costs. If you would like to read more about penalty-free withdrawals,, read this article.

What Should I Do Now?

If you are planning to retire shortly or have yet to plan for retirement, The Law Offices of Joel A Harris, located in Concord, Walnut Creek, and Antioch are available to help you plan accordingly. Joel Harris is an attorney with nearly 30 years of experience in estate planning, trust and probate law. Joel works with expert tax and financial planners who can take the time to help you plan for retirement, create a budget, document progress and provide useful reminders pertaining to your personal retirement plan. If you are not sure how to begin planning for retirement, feel free to visit us online, in person or by phone at (925) 757-4605. Our priority is your future success!