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What is a Life Plan Community? How does it differ from a 55+ Community?


When weighing retirement options, you may reach the point where you’re ready for your priorities to shift from the daily upkeep of your too-big house to more personal, enjoyable pursuits. What tops the list of your priorities: travel?, Maintaining your health? Or is it where you live? For many seniors, where to live is at the top of the list, and if you like the idea of maintenance-free living, it’s good to know you have options.

55+ Communities

Active Adult Living Communities, also known as 55+ communities, are residential neighborhoods for adults aged 55 and older who want to downsize, socialize with people at the same life stage and live a low-maintenance lifestyle.

These real estate developments offer independence and a range of resort-class amenities to residents. Some on-site features may include a golf course, swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts and walking trails. Homeowners often pay additional fees for garbage collection, maintenance of shared spaces, security, utilities, internet service and cable/satellite TV.

While active adult living communities meet the needs of people reimagining their retirement years, they do have a few drawbacks when it comes to cost and the planning required for your long-term living needs, especially if that includes future healthcare scenarios. Often, these active adult communities don’t include maintenance and upkeep for the interior of the home, so you may still find yourself spending a significant portion of your time on chores.

Active adult living communities also lack on-site healthcare services. If one spouse requires more care, couples are often faced with separation or a decision to move to receive the short- or long-term care needed.

Life Plan Communities (also known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs)

Life Plan Communities* offer a similar design with many of the same amenities as active adult communities. These might include art and education programs in a cultural center, a wellness and fitness suite, a game room, and a fully-equipped salon and spa. In addition, interior and exterior home maintenance is included. Independent living at a Life Plan Community is perfect for continuing to live your life as you do now, but without the concerns of maintaining a house, plus the assurance of future care, if needed. You have your own home, you can entertain when and how you want, guests can always visit, and you’ll have more time to pursue your favorite hobbies.

If, at some point, you need more assistance on a daily basis, you can transition to assisted living. You’ll still have your own home, but you’ll also have additional help, which can include assistance with personal care, medication monitoring, dressing, personal mobility, cleaning and laundry, and other daily activities, as needed.

At a Life Plan Community, if an illness or injury temporarily sidelines you, you can receive inpatient short-term rehabilitation services, and long-term skilled nursing is also available on campus.

Life Plan Communities offer several different contract options that allow you to make the best financial decision for your unique situation. The two most popular contract options are Life Care and Modified contracts. Life Care contracts – also known as Type A contracts – cost a bit more up front and each month, but provide guaranteed access to unlimited healthcare services on campus, for life. Modified contracts – also known as Type B contracts – are similar to Type A contracts in that they offer access to care, however, these services are no-charge for a set number of days, not for life. After the specified number of days has been met, residents pay for services as needed, often at a preferential rate. Modified (Type B) contracts cost a bit less up front, and monthly.

While Life Plan Communities aren’t for everyone, for those who are looking for maintenance-free living for now and assurance for the future, they can be the perfect retirement option. And for Long Islanders looking for the perfect community, consider Fountaingate Gardens, a not-for-profit independent senior living option sponsored by Gurwin, soon to be built in Commack. For more information on Fountaingate Gardens, call (631)715-2693.