Friday, April 20, 2012

Niche Retirement Communities Becoming More Popular

We've all seen the ads: smiling seniors lounging at the pool or playing golf, laughing, and enjoying the sunshine as a voice-over speaker describes the available space at a new senior living location. Retirement communities have long been popular, but that these assisted living locations are becoming more sought-after than ever. According to a recent US News article, nique senior communities are popping up across the country at a steady clip catering to more and more specific niches in an attempt to closely meet the needs of certain segments of the senior population. Some of the most popular niche senior living facilities (besides those around beaches or golf courses) are "university-based retirement communities." These locations are built around college campuses in order to provide seniors with the opportunity to attend campus events and even sit in on classes.

Many other communities are being built that center around specific hobbies and activities. Across the country new facilities have recently been built targeting seniors who want to become artists, providing help for those seeking to learn how to paint or write their first novel. Another senior facility is even referred to as an "astronomer's village" and is geared toward stargazers with every living unit equipped with a built-in telescope. Yet another targets "aging hippies" where residents are encouraged to make their own living space and practice sustainability techniques. No longer are nursing homes or assisted living facilities the only places where seniors can plan on spending their golden years. Most expect these activity-based living centers to slowly begin branching out to include support for those in need of more and more specialized healthcare.

Costs for these niche communities are somewhat similar to other long-term care options. For example, a recent MetLife Market Survey found that the average national rent for an assisted living facility was about $3,500. Many retirement communities have rent prices that are comparable, ranging anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000 monthly. However, many of these locations also come with "entry fees" which range from $150,000 to $600,000. All or part of the fee may be returned when the resident leaves or dies. Units at these locations can sometimes be purchased.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where do you keep your important documents?

Who knows where you keep your important papers?  In an emergency situation, valuable time could be wasted tracking down important legal papers.  Make it a point to tell your children, successor trustee, or personal representative where they can find your original documents.  If you store those documents in a safe deposit box, or a safe at home, make certain they have the ability to get into the box or safe. 

We frequently receive calls from our clients’ family members who want to know where they can find these documents, and they need them “now” because there is a family crisis.   There are legal limitations that tie our hands so often we cannot provide our copies to the family.

You do not have to tell anyone about the contents of the papers, just let them know how they can access them in an emergency.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Need for Alzheimer's Association Expected to Grow

There were 39.6 million individuals in the U.S. over 65 years old in 2009. In roughly twenty years that number is expected to increase to 72.1 million. At that point the senior population will constitute roughly 19% of the total American populace. The changing demographics are placing significant strain on public Medicare and Medicaid resources. That is why many observers have focused more attention on the ways that outside not-for-profit groups are working to help seniors in need. It remains unclear if public programs will be able to fully handle the influx of seniors, and it is likely that local nonprofit groups will continue to play a vital role in ensuring that particularly vulnerable elderly community members receive the care they need.

A new Western Edition article recently summarized some organizations that provide various types of aid to seniors. For example, the Alzheimer's Association is the nation's leading organization raising awareness of this cognitive disease that affects so many local residents. Beyond advocating for support in research, the organization provides patient and family services to help those dealing with the effects of the condition which causes memory, thinking, and behavior challenges. The agency has a 24-hour a day help line where families can call for information and referrals.

Over 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's and the number is expected to more than triple in the next few decades. It is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.  According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than $210 billion worth of unpaid care is currently being supplied by family members helping loved ones with different forms of dementia.

The Association reminds local residents that diagnosis is often delayed because the elderly and their family members mistake signs of the dementia as a "senior moment." In reality, the incident may be part of a serious cognitive condition. Dealing with the condition is much more difficult when health and legal affairs are not handled until the mental condition has deteriorated. 

To learn more about these issues, please take a look at the Alzheimer's Association website or call their hotline at 1-800-272-3900.  Please feel free to call our firm if you would like to discuss your family's situation in regard to estate planning.