Continuing-Care Community Contracts and Fees

What You Need to Know About Continuing-Care Contracts and Fees
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With continuing care, review the contract carefully

What it costs. Continuing care is an expensive option. Payment systems vary quite a bit from one continuing-care community to another, and these systems can be complex. In most cases, older adults will pay a hefty entrance fee -- or, in some communities, they'll have to purchase the unit they move in to -- and then pay a monthly fee after that.

Costs vary widely, but older adults will likely be looking at paying upwards of $100,000 to move in and $2,000 or more a month after that. But if they can afford it, they can generally be confident that their needs will be met for the rest of their lives once they move in.

What is included. If they purchase a life-care contract, everything including housing, meals, medical care, and skilled nursing care will be covered, and the monthly fee shouldn't go up as they move from one level of care to the next. They can also choose a modified or fee-for-service contract. This is generally less expensive at first, but additional fees will be charged as more care or services are needed. Costs will also vary based on the size of the unit they choose.

Consider using an elder law attorney. Reading and understanding the contract is important in helping older adults choose any kind of housing option, but when it comes to continuing care, it's a must. In fact, because continuing care represents both a long-term commitment and a significant financial investment -- and because contracts can be long and complex as they detail what will happen as they move from one level of care to the next -- it may be worth it to have an elder law attorney go over the contract once you've selected a community or communities to consider.

Nell Bernstein

Nell Bernstein's writings have appeared on Salon. See full bio