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Find a secure and safe retirement community

Picking a retirement community for yourself or a family member can be stressful and overwhelming. Here are tips on how to find a safe and secure home.

Fees and charges

Some continuing care retirement communities, which enable residents to age into different levels of care without having to move homes, require an upfront fee, and some don’t.

Either way, residents will be required to pay monthly rent, so ask about any upfront fees, what services are included, how much rent and fees have increased in the past five years and whether they are likely to increase in the future.

The average monthly charge in late 2021 at continuing care communities was $3,555, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

Refunds

If a community requires an entrance fee, find out whether any portion of the fee will be refunded to the resident or their estate if they move out or die.

Use of funds

Ask whether the entrance fees are kept in a segregated account and whether they will remain in such an account or would be released in the future to help cover operating expenses and other costs.

Financials

Look at a community’s financial statements, most likely available on the Electronic Municipal Market Access website. If the continuing care community is a nonprofit, you can check its annual tax documents on ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer.

Check occupancy levels to be sure it’s in the 90% to 95% range; check the community’s unrestricted cash and investment reserves to be sure they aren’t declining; and check that the community’s net operating margin isn’t decreasing.

Credit rating

Check Fitch Ratings to see how it rates the community’s ability to pay back debt. A company that is rated AAA is considered the highest credit quality with a reliable cash flow.

Bankruptcy

Ask what happens to your contract and deposit in the case of bankruptcy, and whether the community is controlled by a parent company. Also find out whether any of its other communities have declared bankruptcy.

For retirement home options, visit the federal government’s online Eldercare Locator at eldercare.acl.gov or call 800-677-1116 for your local Area Agency on Aging.

Also visit: Caring.com, LeadingAge.org and SeniorLiving.org.

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