October 26, 2021 — For most people, the answer to the question of the right time for moving to a Life Care community is – “when I get older”. It pretty much doesn’t matter how old the person is at the time, some undefined date in the future is always the answer. True, a minority make the decision when they are in their 60s or early 70s, but they are the outliers, often with a good reason for doing so.
Topretirements has some good friends who have wrestled with this decision for years. Their current situation, unfortunately, illustrates the problem so many people will face. He is in his mid 90s and she in her early 80s. She has wanted for some time to move from their town home into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC, often known as a Life Care Community). He, however, is never quite ready. Fortunately, they did put a deposit down at a Connecticut CCRC, but used a decision to wait for one of the larger units as a way to delay the move. Now a serious medical incident has required an extended hospital stay with an uncertain future, and he is ready to take any unit that comes up. Although it looks like their deposit has secured them a place, they are about to have a very rough patch ahead as two elderly people with mobility problems have to deal with moving a jam-packed town home’s contents into a much smaller apartment.
The average age of people who move to a Life Care community is between 75 and 85 years of age. These communities would love to move that age downward because younger residents offer stability and less turnover. Since services provided to older residents in assisted living and nursing care cost much more than those provided to independent living residents, more younger people means greater profitability too.
What is a Life Care or Continuing Care Community?
The three main types of housing available to seniors are independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes. Life Care and CCRCs are unique in that they provide all three services in one package. You can move in and live in an independent living apartment or home, take advantage of assisted living if you have a medical setback (temporary or permanent), and move to nursing care if you are unable to take care of yourself at all. If a couple moves into a CCRC facility and only one of them requires the advance services, the other can continue to live in their independent living home. The model offers (at a considerable price) the security and peace of mind that you won’t have to ever move again, and, more importantly, that you will be taken care of and a burden to no one. The fees for these communities usually include one or two meals a day in their restaurant, extensive amenities like indoor pools and activity directors, and luxurious facilities. Entry fees can cost from several hundred thousand to a million dollars, in addition to monthly fees in the thousands. Some portion of the entry fee is usually refundable, depending.
Advantages of moving as a younger person
In a US News & Reports article on “When to Move into a CCRC“, an expert cited several advantages to moving sooner rather than later. The first is reduced financial risk, as you can lock in a fixed monthly rate that will be far lower than what it would cost should you ever have to move into an assisted living facility. The second is social. By moving in early you have time to make friends and avoid an abrupt transition late in life. For people who have lost a partner, or fear they will soon, being in a social environment earlier can help overcome some of the loneliness and loss in their lives. A third advantage is related to the financial risk – by moving before you have medical troubles (e.g., our friends mentioned above), you have the security and peace of mind that comes with knowing who will be taking care of you, that you are guaranteed that care, and that your partner/spouse will be able to live in the same facility as you. These facilities usually require a medical examination, and can either deny you entrance or charge a much higher fee if it looks like you are going to need extra care early.
On the downside of moving earlier, people give up some things. Usually the move is to a smaller home, so prized possessions and a sense of space may have to be sacrificed. Living in a communal setting means losing some privacy. Many people will be bothered because moving to a senior facility is unmistakable evidence that you have grown old.
The decision of when to move into a Life Care facility is personal. As we said earlier, most people delay too long, then something bad happens and they are forced to pull the trigger. My own attitude is similar. I am pretty sure that Mrs. Topretirements and I will move into one sooner or later, if we are lucky enough to live long enough. The question is when, and under what circumstances. Should one of us develop a serious condition that is going to require daily care, like Parkinsons or dementia, we would do it sooner (but knowing we might have to pay extra because of our medical condition). If both of us can’t drive, that would be a trigger. Should we move into a facility in the state where we have our summer home, or where we snowbird in Florida? That question fuels more uncertainty. Eighty years of age seems to young – is ninety better? What shape we are in will be a determinant. Could we keep one of our homes and live part of the year in the CCRC, at least for the first few years? Some people can afford to do that as it is a good compromise that offers security and some independence.
We looked at Comments in some of our past Blogs that touched on CCRCs to see what our Members have said. There were many valuable comments, some of which we are including here:
CCRC’s offer great potential, but there are several big risks. First, the CCRC services and facilities can change over time with new management or weakened finances. We have friends who loved their CCRC when they first moved into it, but with a change of management, they think the services and facilities have significantly deteriorated over time. With the one-time, non-refundable entrance fee for life care, they feel stuck in a place they no longer enjoy.
Second, although most CCRC’s allow residents as young as age 62, I think the average entrance age is typically somewhere between age 75 and 80 so the average age of residents is often well into the 80’s. I think it is important to fit reasonably into the age of the residents of a CCRC.
Third, a CCRC is sometimes likened to a monastic way of life, not because of austerity since most are quite nice, but because one is committing to live with a group of people for the rest of our lives. So, it is important to make sure that we can fit into the “culture” of the residents for what matters to us (religion, education, political views, activities, military, etc). It can be hard to live as an outsider. Again, CCRC’s appear to be a beautiful possibility for aging, but we need to perform our own due diligence to minimize the risks associated with CCRC’s. —- Everette
Here’s a checklist of questions if you’re considering a CCRC: http://www.carepathways.com/checklist-ccrc.cfm
Source: Care Pathways
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredits CCRCs (www.carf.org).
Because CCRC contracts can be fairly complex, it’s a good idea to review them with a financial planner, an accountant, or an attorney. And, you or your “money person” should look at the financial statements of the CCRC, too.
If you’re in poor health when you enter a CCRC, you could be paying a lot of money for a little time. But for those with the financial means, a CCRC can provide great peace of mind. — Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)
As we are just in our early 60s we don’t feel we are quite ready to pay all the monthly fees, nor utilize all the services that are common in a CCRC . It is, however, our goal to eventually end up in such a place since our children are spread out across the country and we will be on our own. Flatearth6
So, my important advice is to involve your extended family in the choice of facilities. And have them monitor the business end of the place. Also, chose one close to family, if possible. You are anticipating health and ability deterioration over time so someone will need to pick up the slack for you. Make it easy on them! — Lulu
“One of the best pieces of advice we have heard about retirement is to take the long view, rather than just focusing on the early years.” When we were considering Galloway Ridge , we were like you — in our early 60s. Just 5 or 6 years later we still are happy with our decision, but changes in our health and physical condition have caused us to make changes to our budget in order to allow someone else to help maintain our home. Age related issues don’t just creep up on you — they can happen in leaps and bounds. — Rich
CCRCs and Life Care Communities are a great option that can provide security and permanence for one’s older years. There is a substantial cost to them with the entrance fee and monthly costs. Not everyone can afford them, although if one sells their home they probably have enough equity to cover the entrance fee. Compared to the cost for assisted living or nursing homes over many years, they can be a good deal.
Comments? Are you considering a move to a CCRC, and if so, what is the right age for you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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