Vibrant, independent living for the active adult

The residents of today's Life Plan Communities enjoy vibrant, independent living as well as an array of activities and progressive health programs.

Posted Updated
Jane Albright
, freelance reporter
This story was written for our sponsor, Galloway Ridge at Fearrington.

Not long after Bob Marshall lost his wife and was feeling socially disconnected as a single man, a lifelong friend from college mentioned that he and his wife were considering a Continuing Care Retirement Community.

Marshall was surprised to hear this and protested, "But you're healthy, active and living happily in a beautiful home."

By chance, a few weeks later, he was attending a conference about 15 minutes away from the community his friend had mentioned and decided to visit. After an impromptu tour with some other prospective residents, he revised his opinion.

"Here was a community of people like me, who were enjoying almost every conceivable activity together in pleasant surroundings with the support of staff for needs as they arose," he said.

His mind was changed. Now the challenge was to find the right fit.

Life Plan Communities differ widely in the services and amenities offered. Costs also vary widely.

Galloway Ridge is a Life Plan Community near Chapel Hill. (Photo Courtesy of Galloway Ridge)

After a year of looking, Marshall moved into Galloway Ridge at Fearrington, near Chapel Hill.

The goal of Life Plan Communities is for residents to be settled and living life to the fullest long before the need for assistance. These communities come in four basic contract types:

  • LifeCare (Type A): A LifeCare contract guarantees that, for a one-time entrance fee and monthly service fee, residents will receive unlimited assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care, should it be needed. A resident’s monthly cost remains nearly the same even if they need a higher level of care. Galloway Ridge is a LifeCare community, though they prefer to be known as a Life Plan Community due to the emphasis on wellness and community involvement.
  • Modified Fee-for-Service (Type B): This contract is similar to a Type A contract, but an additional cost may be incurred for some healthcare services.
  • Fee-for-Service (Type C): There’s a lower entry fee, but residents pay market rate for any healthcare services on an as-needed basis.
  • Equity Communities (Type D): Residents purchase their residence instead of paying an entrance fee. They pay a monthly service fee or homeowners association fee. Health care services are available to residents at the market rate or a slightly discounted rate.

Prospective residents can select the community that best fits their lifestyle and budget. Being near grandchildren seems to be a requirement for many.

Marshall is glad he made the move.

"Like many of my generation, I had acquired the 'old folks rest home' image of places for the elderly who were forced to give up their independence," he said. What he finally realized was that these communities are made up of individuals who are open to fresh ideas, new adventures and living every day to the fullest.

"It wasn't about need," he said. "It was the place these residents loved and wanted to be. And rather than surrender independence, it was freedom to come and go without property concerns. And life's necessities like food and transportation to local events and services were provided."

And his college friend? He’s now Marshall's neighbor at Galloway Ridge.

This story was written for our sponsor, Galloway Ridge at Fearrington.

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