Is A Continuing Care Retirement Community for Me?
By Peggy Kiefer
We all know that aging is inevitable and that the time may come when we will need to consider moving out of our homes and into a retirement community of some kind.
The first question might be: What kind of retirement community am I looking for? There are at least three:
- There are apartment complexes for adults 55 and older with no medical facilities, minimal (or no) meal plans and limited extra activities and transportation offered.
- Retirement communities are available that feature independent living, memory care, assisted living or full-time nursing care and sometimes a combination of two or more of these plans.
- Also available are what is known as continuing care communities with all of the above featured at one facility.
Which one is for you? Continuing care communities (CCRS) combine many options, which means you can stay there from the time you move into independent living accommodations, to assisted living as needed, and nursing or memory care if required. So, let’s look at this option and see what is needed to help make the decision.
First, you need to decide if your home is still the right place for you. It is very difficult to leave a home where your children were raised, where old friends are located nearby and the comfortable familiarity as well as the problems and delights. Ask yourself if the house has a good layout should you become ill or disabled, or are there are many stairs and thresholds that would make it difficult. Also, can you keep up with the demands of maintaining a home? Do you feel isolated and away from family and friends? Is medical care convenient if needed? Do you need any help with cooking, cleaning, dressing and shopping? If you own your home, as many seniors do, would it be financially advisable to sell at this time?
If you feel that your present home is the right fit for you, it might be the best decision to stay right where you are. But if you are doubtful, this might be a good time to think about a CCRC.
Even if you feel you are very independent and don’t need any help now, you may want to think of the future while you are still active and mobile. That way, if your needs change you have the option in a CCRC to take advantage of its medical facilities. What if you are quite active but your spouse has medical problems that require medical facilities or memory care? You can still live in the same community and adjust your living if your needs change. CCRC offers the benefits and flexibility of independent living with additional personal care and medical help ready if you are not able to live alone.
Another big question is: Can I afford to move to a CCRC? Most communities have a cost comparison sheet for you to fill out to see how much your present living conditions cost compared to what a CCRC would be. Also, most CCRCs offer a great deal of help selling your present home and moving into your new one. They help you figure out what can be donated, sold or thrown out. They even can have your new home ready to move into the first day. Also, most of them give you choices of appliances, flooring, paint colors and style and layout of your apartment or home. Depending on the community, there are choices of apartments ranging from studios to three bedrooms, duplex casitas or even individual homes.
Many financial options are also offered to help in your decision, from a buy-in where you pay an up front fee to monthly charges, much as rent would be. This depends on the CCRC you choose. There are many choices.
As you can see, there are many things to consider at this important time in your life. But heed one warning that you have no doubt already heard — don’t wait until someone else has to make the decision for you.
Peggy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org