Older adult women playing cards at a senior living community.

Questions to Ask About Life Care and Rental Senior Living Communities

Deciding to move out of your home and into a senior living community is a major life decision. There are many different types of senior living options to choose from, making it difficult to determine which is right for you. Many factors will go into your decision, including your preferred lifestyle and your financial situation. 

Here, we’ll highlight some of the key differences between two common types of communities you’ll find during your research into senior living options: Life Care communities and rental communities. 

Rental vs. Life Care: What Are the Key Differences?

Rental communities and Life Care communities are two different types of senior living communities that offer independent living residences for older adults who are either approaching or have reached retirement age.  

The main differences between rental communities and Life Care communities are the costs. Rental communities may or may not offer on-site care options. If a resident’s care needs change, they will need to pay market rates for care, which can be unpredictable.

Meanwhile, Life Care community residents pay an initial entrance fee and predictable monthly rate and in return get access to additional levels of on-site care, such as assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. This is a critical difference, as 70% of older adults will need a high level of long-term care support and services, most of which are not covered by Medicare

Both types of senior living communities charge monthly fees in exchange for housing and/or services. However, Life Care communities provide on-site health services at predictable monthly rates and they tend to offer a higher level of services and amenities than rental communities.

Who Chooses Rentals? Who Chooses Life Care?

People who choose to live in rental senior living communities often make this decision for financial reasons, as they prefer a flexible living option without an entrance fee. Those who choose to live in Life Care communities may place a greater value on long-term, future-forward planning. They benefit from knowing that their future care plans have already been provided for today. 

5 Questions to Ask About Senior Living Communities

There are some questions you should always ask during your housing search, regardless of the type of senior living community you are considering.  

1. What services and amenities are available to residents?

For many of us, a senior living community is more than just another place to live. It’s a place where you can socialize with others and freely explore your favorite hobbies or pursue new ones. You should always ask what services and amenities are available to residents, as the answer to this question will often help determine if a community is the right fit for you.

2. Is there an entrance fee? If so, is any portion of it refundable?

Regardless of what type of senior living community you’re looking into, ask if they charge an entrance fee. If there is an entrance fee, ask if any portion of that fee is refundable to your estate and carefully review your contract options.  

3. What happens if my care needs change?

While you may be in good health now, there is no guarantee that your health needs will not change over time. Remember, 70% of older adults will need some form of long-term care during their retirement years. A seemingly low monthly fee now that does not include care can balloon over time should your care needs change, as the market rate for care soars. Healthcare costs in 2022 rose 14.5%. Consider this: if healthcare costs continue to rise just 2% per year, then a 55-year-old couple retiring in 2022 can expect to spend nearly one million dollars in medical expenses. 

4. Is the cost of care included in the monthly fee?

You will pay monthly fees at Life Care communities and rental communities. However, it may not always be apparent if the cost of additional care is fully or partially included in the monthly fee. If you enter a rental situation as an independent living resident and need to move to assisted living, what will the fee difference be? What will the market rate be for care at that time? The unknown answer to this question can greatly impact your long-term finances and your final decision.

5. What levels of care are available on-site?

Another important thing to ask about additional care is if any or all of those levels of care are available to residents on-site or if they require travel to an off-site location. The ability to receive care within the senior living community where you reside is a major benefit for many. 

Explore Life Care Options at Newcastle Place

Newcastle Place is a Life Care community in Mequon, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee. We offer exceptional independent living services and amenities to all of our residents. We also provide on-site assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care and rehabilitation services. Our goal is to deliver the resources you need to enjoy your retirement years and live life to its fullest.

We invite you to contact us and learn more about life at Newcastle Place, or simply complete the form below and one of our team members will be in touch.