Consider a move to senior living and you’ll quickly discover a range of choices – from simple rental arrangements to sophisticated “full continuum” residential communities with an agreement called “Lifecare.” 

You might find it helpful to know the difference between these two basic but different choices, and we’re here to help.


Rental senior living is like dessert-first. 

Remember the appeal of eating dessert first? (Maybe you still do?) Your mother probably insisted it sacrificed good nutrition to your urge-to-splurge pleasure and wasn’t a fan. But there’ve always been times it made sense to get what you want when you want it. Which is how a rental senior living community can deliver. 

Rental senior living gets you out of homeownership and into a community that caters to your interests and life stage. It’s quick, with little investment upfront. The lifestyle can be filled with friends, fun and convenience. And the choice is simple, leaving financial arrangements for future care to the future. 


Lifecare is planning ahead.  

Planning ahead is the idea everyone agrees is good – even while looking longingly at cake. Most of us plan ahead. We plan education, families, careers and finances. We choose where to live, how to live, what to do with our leisure time, when we can afford that Alaskan cruise or trip to Kilimanjaro – all according to a plan gives us the best shot at long-term happiness and success. 

Lifecare is a plan like that. It requires a commitment and investment up front. But with that, it becomes the plan that mitigates the future’s financial risks and surprises. No matter what crops up, your plan’s in place, and you can sleep well. 

Consider these examples of how the two types of senior living can work. 


Leopold and Alice chose a rental senior living community. 

The month-to-month rental arrangement was a cinch for their budget, and it kept their nest egg intact. They fell in love with community life quickly. Over nine years, they thrived with new friendships, comforts and conveniences. They also liked the book clubs, entertainment outings and regular golfing.  

Everything changed with a fall, though. Leopold took a tumble in their apartment, and after the emergency room came surgery and 45 days in rehab. Their health insurance covered the costs, but Alice was suddenly the decision-maker forced to choose a rehabilitation center. What she found was across town, and she could only arrange transportation to visit Leopold every other day.  

When he returned to their senior living community, Leopold needed more assistance than Alice could deliver. With their adult daughter on the West Coast, Leopold and Alice were largely on their own to find an alternative way to live, with assisted living for him. Where would that be? How would they afford the costs of assisted living while also keeping Alice in their rental apartment? And what would it be like to say goodbye to their network of friends developed over nearly a decade in the community? 


The cost of care in the Washington, D.C. area. 

Market rates for long-term senior care in 2020 were $6,000 for assisted living and $13,059 for skilled nursing – per month. With their rental contract, Leopold and Alice can expect to pay around $6,000 for his assisted living residency – in addition to their $4,500 monthly rent on her independent living apartment home. 

For the following couple, the doubling of monthly costs is avoided. 


Hamilton and Lucretia chose Lifecare. 

They sold their family home and paid the entrance fee, 90 percent of which will be refundable to their estate when they leave the community. They also pay a monthly fee for their active life in the community, which they love. Much like the rental contract, the monthly fee covers most of Hamilton and Lucretia’s daily expenses, with a dining plan included. 

Three years after their move-in, Lucretia had a stroke that required a short hospitalization, followed by rehabilitation. She found her rehab in the community’s skilled nursing setting, where Hamilton and her friends could visit her daily during her treatment – a benefit of the all-under-one-roof community design. Even better, the couple’s monthly costs had only a minor adjustment – nowhere near what costs could’ve been if she had moved out of the community into a short-term rehab setting.  

When she returned to their independent living apartment home, they talked it over with their family and Lucretia decided to move into assisted living. She could get the assistance she needed with daily activities, and Lucretia’s continuing recovery could be more closely monitored. Because they had Lifecare, her assisted living residence – also on campus – would cost about the same as she'd been paying.

At no point during their health changes did their extended family worry about care decisions. All were confident that Hamilton and Lucretia’s Lifecare contract ensured financial predictability – with all the care they could need available within the same community where they were already living. 


The two most different types of senior living are both good for you. 

Universally, those who move into senior living communities claim they wish they’d done it sooner. Beyond that, the experiences vary greatly.  

If you’re the sort of person who lives for the day and expects to face tomorrow when it gets here, a rental senior living community can satisfy. You’re good for now, and if a health care need presents itself, you’ll deal with it – or rely on someone else to deal with it for you.  

When you’d rather set a plan in place so you and your family can breathe easy, there’s no getting around the benefits of Lifecare. If you ever need care, you already know where you’ll get it, those who’ll provide it and how much it’ll cost.  

Which works better for you and your family?  

To find out more about these and other senior living choices, complete the form below.