What to consider when choosing to stay at home

Research and the right questions can help seniors make the best decision

Although moving to a senior living community is an option for many in Lancaster County, some seniors choose to remain in their own home after retirement for any variety of reasons.
Perhaps they are intimately connected to their community and neighborhood, or perhaps they have spent decades working on their dream house, which is (finally) exactly the way they want it. Whatever the reason, for seniors choosing to remain in their own homes, it is imperative that they spend the time researching and have a solid plan in place that they can trust.
Jack and Ursula Gibson are one such couple. They enjoy their own home on a golf course and they want to stay in that community. They enjoy taking care of their home and spending time on their deck watching the passing golfers putt.
For the Gibsons, originally from North Carolina, the decision to move to Lancaster was largely influenced by a desire to spend their senior years in their own home with a rock-solid plan in place. The Gibsons’ professional careers — Ursula was a nurse and Jack was in insurance — made them both keenly aware of the necessity of having a plan for life after retirement. But, perhaps more notably, Ursula’s mother is currently in a nursing home as a private pay resident. With first-hand knowledge of the cost that can be associated with privately paying for care, the Gibsons were more and more motivated to actively plan for their own future.
Jack and Ursula spent over a year researching senior living plans and communities up and down the East Coast, and the couple says that they would have moved anywhere that made sense financially. They have already moved several times throughout their marriage and are not daunted by the process of relocation.
Ursula and Jack ultimately decided to move to Lancaster to join SmartLife VIA Willow Valley. SmartLife VIA Willow Valley is the only true Lifecare at home program in Lancaster County. It is an innovative, membership-based plan that gives the security of a continuing care senior living community, but right in the member’s own home. SmartLife enables seniors to remain in their own home and continue their current lifestyle, knowing they have the security that if they should ever need additional care, they are covered. Lifecare coverage protects their family’s assets, because fees are not increased due to a member’s need for an increased level of care.
SmartLife utilizes Lifecare Coordinators who advocate for the program’s members and arrange for care when needed. An emergency response system is available, and transportation and meals can also be provided during a short-term illness, rather than spouses or other family members having to arrange for these often stressful tasks. This care can be in the member’s home or at Willow Valley Communities.
SmartLife shares the same reputation for excellence as Willow Valley Communities, a nationally recognized, premier senior living Lifecare community with a 35-year history of stability. This reputation was key to the Gibsons. They strongly advise anyone looking for a senior living plan to do their due diligence and carefully research the financial histories of senior living organizations. Jack recommends asking for financials from as far back as 2008 when the economy took a downturn. “The plan you choose is only as solid as the company that backs it,” he says.
Jack also recommends several other questions seniors should ask that can help them determine which plans are best for them:
1. What are the average costs of long-term care in my area?  How much financial protection does each plan provide?
2. Does the plan cover me for my entire life?
3. Who will assist me with my future care planning needs?
4. Where will my care be provided?
Included with their membership, SmartLife members have access to many of Willow Valley Communities’ wellness programs and social activities, providing a lifestyle focused on health and wellness. Ursula enjoys swimming at the Willow Valley Communities aquatics center and Jack works out in the Fitness Center. They both also attend various programs on the campus.
After all their experience and thorough research, the Gibsons are very pleased with their choice of SmartLife VIA Willow Valley for their retirement. They investigated many plans and asked many questions before making their decision. The Gibsons now refer to Smartlife as “a long-term care plan that actually works.”
For more information on how SmartLife VIA Willow Valley can provide future security and peace of mind, get the facts at an upcoming information session. Visit smartlife.org/attend to learn more.