It might be an understatement to say Lakeview Village resident Ken Smith has a full dance card. He’s part of a book club, volunteers for various organizations and is admittedly coming to the realization that he must pass on events more often because he has more social options than time to do them all. It’s a nice problem to have and quite different from his situation a little more than two years ago, when Smith was spending the lion’s share of his time alone, reading or performing tedious maintenance on an aging and oversized home. Still, all the rediscovered fun and fulfillment is not the primary reason Smith is happy with his decision to move into the Kansas community two years ago—at best, it is a distant second best to the peace of mind he gets from the community’s LifeCare contract.
“What I feel best about is the lifelong healthcare,” Smith said. “I don’t have to worry about healthcare if I can’t be independent anymore at some point. My son and my family don’t have to worry about it. I’m so happy to be able to tell him he doesn’t have to worry about taking care of my health if I ever have a fall or become ill. I’m going to be OK.”
What does it do?
Lakeview LifeCare allows qualified seniors who are still able to live independently to move into any number of residences within the community while having the option at any time to move into long-term care housing (assisted living or skilled nursing) in the same community should the need arise. Lakeview Village Director of Sales and Marketing Colette Panchot said the most common feedback from families of residents is a relief that they won’t have to scramble to find a quality, available and affordable community for a loved one who suddenly needs care. Lakeview Village residents are simply moved from an independent option to one providing the care and resources they need over time. “This is high-quality health care that is pre-paid,” Panchot said. “That can be a huge relief to family.”
Unlike the change from living independently to a long-term care scenario for many who tackle aging on their own, the threat of an enormous cost-of-living surge is not in play—the costs of LifeCare at Lakeview, in its 50th year in operation, are stable. With manageable annual increases consistent over time, there are no surprises on the financial side, Panchot noted.
“It helps people budget better because you’re going to know your fees over time,” she said. “If the cost of aging doesn’t scare people, it should. Many people literally go bankrupt from having to move to skilled nursing. It happens more than you’d think where there is no money left for the other partner. The future is expensive. It is better to be prepared.”
How does it work?
LifeCare works a bit like insurance: there are financial and medical qualifications and the resident is paying into the system while they’re still living free of imminent health issues. But like car insurance, if one “needs” the health care options immediately, perhaps after an accident, it may be too late, Panchot suggested. Approximately 80 percent of Lakeview Village residents end up using the health care component of the community at some point during their time living there.
Smith said that among the hundreds (literally) of new friends he’s made since moving to Lakeview Village, there are a number of people who have transitioned from independent living into long-term care or rehabilitation during the last two years. And what he typically has found when visiting with these friends might surprise people, pleasantly so.
“I know people in skilled nursing right now and people in rehab, too. What I see is that there are a lot of laughs,” Smith said. “People are getting taken care of, but they’re happy and having fun. This is not like being in some hospital.”
Smith chuckled a bit when recalling a financially- and technology-savvy former neighbor who helped him research whether Lakeview and LifeCare was a good deal, or even realistically affordable. Both found that it was. “He said to me at the time, ‘one of these days, I may do this myself,’” Smith recalled. “He moved in here last week.”