5 Things That Anyone Seeking Senior Living in Florida Should Consider
July 27, 2021
The demand for senior living in Florida continues to rapidly increase, and there are many factors to consider when deciding what’s right for you. In this article, we’ll walk you through the top five considerations to focus on as you shop around for retirement living.
What is senior living anyway?
Senior living is a broad term to describe the various options people have once they reach a certain age, usually between 55 and 65 years old. There are a few different categories of senior living:
- Independent living communities are designed especially for active older adults. There are several different kinds of independent senior living. In many 55+ communities, there is simply an age restriction on who can be a resident. For a fee, they may offer amenities such as transportation, yard maintenance, cooking, and housekeeping.
- Life plan communities have extensive services on site such as assisted living, memory care, skilled care, and rehabilitation. These independent living neighborhoods offer residents access to a spectrum of health care services so that if their needs change over time, they don’t have to move.
- Assisted living is for those who need some assistance from others with activities of daily living such as help with getting dressed, personal care, bathing, and preparing meals, and/or medical care.
- Rehabilitation care centers are for people who are recovering from a hospital stay, injury, or illness, that provides short-term, individualized care with a goal to return to living independently.
- Skilled nursing provides round-the-clock skilled care for people who require it due to a chronic illness, or temporary care and rehabilitation due to illness, surgery or injury.
- Memory care is a type of senior living that provides specialized care for people who have memory issues such as those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, on to the top 5 things to consider when looking for senior living in Florida.
1) Location, location, location
It’s no secret that the state of Florida is known for being a retirement mecca. According to SeniorLiving.org, approximately four out of 10 Floridians are over the age of 50 (about 8.6 million) and there are more than 850 independent living communities. The warm climate, low cost of living, beaches, and quality health care are just some of the reasons that older adults choose Florida.
The northeast coast is where the lively city of Jacksonville is located, and offers beautiful beaches, nature, a downtown area filled with shopping, museums, and restaurants. You’ll experience more seasonal weather in northern Florida, where it can dip into the 50s in the winter months.
The Panhandle region is situated on the Gulf Coast and has more of a southern vibe due to its close proximity to Alabama and Georgia. It is more rural than other parts of Florida and has gorgeous white sand beaches, also called the “Emerald Coast.”
If you’re a Mickey fan, moving to the central part of the state is an ideal option. Orlando is where some of the best theme parks in the world are located, including Walt Disney World. There are a whopping 30,000 lakes in Florida, so don’t think that because you’re not near the coast that you won’t have access to water. Mount Dora, for example, is one hour north of Orlando, and is a diverse small town known for its lighthouses, lakes, restaurants, and unique shops, which is why many refer to it as the “New England of the South.”
The southern coastal region of Florida is also known as the “Treasure Coast.” The region is diverse and tropical – quintessential Florida. The downside of south Florida is that you have to deal with hurricane season, which runs from June through November. For that reason alone, many people choose the middle part of the state, which is the least hurricane prone.
When selecting senior living in Florida, you’ll want to consider how you’d like to spend your time.
Most independent senior living communities in Florida cater to healthy, active living. If you’re a golfer, look into communities that are in close proximity to the greens. If you love nature, there are many opportunities to learn about and enjoy the vast array of flora and fauna that are native to Florida. If you enjoy the perks of city life and don’t mind tourists, then consider moving to one of Florida’s urban areas such as Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, or Orlando. If you’re a beach person, then be sure to look into how long it takes to get there from your community.
Some places offer lifelong learning that can keep you busy all day every day and you don’t need to leave because it’s all right there for you. In fact, many communities offer golf memberships, dining experiences featuring accomplished chefs, and fitness centers that put even the best of health clubs to shame. Other communities offer lovely grounds and luxurious homes but fewer on-site amenities, which works well for people who prefer to be out and about around town and spend less time at home. Some senior living communities in Florida are very large, active, and social, while others are more intimate.
Lakeside at Waterman Village, for example, is a community in central Florida that will offer residents a remarkable array of recreational, social, and educational activities. Located in Mount Dora, Lakeside at Waterman Village offers all the best of the Florida lifestyle with a little bit of everything, including on-site higher levels of care, should you ever need it.
This expansion community of Waterman Village is an attractive location because it is a quiet, quaint community with upscale lakefront living and secluded water that’s perfect for fishing, plus it’s close enough to all the attractions of Orlando but is within easy driving distance to several beaches.
3) For-profit vs. not-for-profit
Most of the senior living apartment homes in Florida are not-for-profit, which means that any profits made must be reinvested back into the community’s core mission. It is usually operated by a charitable organization, religious group, or professional group. Leadership is motivated by a mission that is focused on improving the lives of the people in the community. A board of directors oversees the CEO and governs by specific legal and ethical principles.
On the other hand, a for-profit community means that stakeholders earn a profit and leadership is motivated to make money from rents and fees. These communities are often privately owned or part of a national chain of senior living communities.
4) Contract options and future flexibility
Many communities offer multiple levels of care such as independent, assisted living, and skilled long-term nursing. Contract options have to do with things like how much risk you will take on when it comes to your future health care needs, as well as what works best with your investments and assets, long-term care insurance, and health status. Some companies offer contracts with refundability including options where you can pay an up-front entrance fee and receive a partial refund when you move out.
- All-inclusive: This option might be called “life care” or “extensive contract.” You will prepay for higher levels of health care including unlimited assisted living and nursing home-level care so that your monthly fees stay the same. You can save money with this option, but you have to start with putting down a large sum upon moving in. Lakeside at Waterman Village is an all-inclusive independent living community in central Florida.
- Modified: With this option, you are sharing the risk with the senior living community. You will pay a lower entrance fee to cover future health care needs – with some stipulations. You might pre-pay for long-term care for a specific period of time, such as 30 or 90 days, and then if you require care beyond that period, higher rates eventually kick in.
- Pay as you go: With this type of contract, you might pay a lower entrance fee and monthly fee, and then only pay for health care when you need it. If you do need a higher level of care down the road (which is likely), you can expect to pay full price for it.
Be sure you have a firm understanding of your contract options. This may mean having your attorney or financial advisor look over the contracts to make sure you aren’t missing something.
Another nice thing about retiring to Florida is that the cost of living is about average when compared to all other states. According to Caring.com, the cost of living is lower in cities including Lakeland, Hollywood, and Pensacola. You’ll pay more to live in Miami, Jupiter, and St. Augustine, where the cost of living is higher.
Take the time to figure out your daily living costs and anticipated expenses. It’s helpful to bring in your financial advisor to assist with your planning and to determine how you will afford your chosen lifestyle.
The bottom line
More and more people are choosing total retirement living communities in Florida such as the new Lakeside at Waterman Village because they provide you with everything you need and want from top to bottom. No two communities are the same, so it’s important to take the time to do your homework and learn your options in terms of location, lifestyle, operations, contracts, and cost.
Here’s to making your next move your best move!