A senior living retirement community could be an option for boomers for whom living in their homes is no longer an option. Finding an adequate senior living retirement community may be daunting task. For example, there are different types of senior living retirement communities to choose from. Two of the major players in retirement living business are CCRC, which stands for a Continuing Care Retirement Community, and a Retirement Community. Over the course of this post I’ll discuss our options, and disclose what we need to be watchful for.
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
A CCRC is an all in one retirement community. It not only is a place for boomers to live, they can live there through the final three stages of our lives. Those stages are;
- Independent living. This is the retirement stage where we can pretty much fend for ourselves. We just no longer want to deal with the problems that property ownership involves. We may have health issues that prevent us from doing all the things we used to do.
- Assisted living. Here we can no longer perform the task which we have to perform in order to live comfortably. Cooking for example.
- Skilled nursing. Well folks this is the final stage of retirement. We can no longer fend for ourselves, we require regular health care.
Now this all sounds well and good. It’s pretty obvious that CCRCs are going to take good care of us as we progress through the three stages of retirement. But, there always seems to be a “but”, this high degree of care comes with a pretty heavy price tag. We have to have a well healed retirement plan to be able to afford an extensive, and thorough retirement living/care system such as this.
Concerning the type of healthcare which is provided with a CCRC. There are three healthcare plans available. The Type A contract covers healthcare cost as they are required. We pay for these cost up front. It’s part of the enrollment fee. The Type B contract limits the number of days which we can utilize the assisted living or skilled nursing feature. After this specified number of days expire, we will be charged extra fees of these services. The Type C contract is very simple. We have to pay for assisted living and skilled nursing services from the get go.
Basically we have to take a guess as to when and how much healthcare we are going to require, before we kick the bucket. And how we make that prediction I have no idea. It’s kind of like, when selecting a life insurance plan. We have to choose between a whole life plan, or a term plan. The whole life plan covers us until we die, while a term plan, which is cheaper, covers us for only a specified period. If, we think we are going to die within the specified period, the term plan is the way to go. We have make a guess and hope for the best.
Obviously the cost of the CCRC is determined by the type of contract we pick. The cheapest CCRC plan would be the Type C contract. This is because there is no healthcare cost written into the plan. It follows that the most expensive CCRC plan would involve the Type A contract. Since it has to take care of our healthcare costs.
The other type of retirement community is call a Retirement Community. Go figure. Retirement Communities are more like retirement villages, or very small cities. Only thing is they are exclusively inhabited by old folks. It’s a housing complex for seniors, and involve structured activities which tend to keep us old timers mentally, and physically fit.
There are different types of Retirement Communities, so indulge me, and I’ll briefly describe them.
- Assisted Living Communities. This type of community provides basic services, such as food preparation, cleaning, wellness of life services.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities. These communities provide care throughout the three stages of retirement.
- Independent senior living communities. This is designed for those seniors who are in pretty good shape, but have decided that they no longer want to be bothered with burden of home ownership.
There is pretty much a retirement community which will meet the needs of any boomer who can afford the communities services. This is as a good time as any to mention the price tag of the of Retirement Communities. It’s expensive. It’s my concern that most baby boomers cannot afford the services available in CCRCs, or Retirement Communities.
What we need to be watchful for.
Whether we are thinking of joining a CCRC, or purchasing a property in a Retirement Community, there are two obvious considerations which we need to take a look at. The first is location. Certainly we want to settle in a location which is going to support our lifestyle for most of, if not all of, the entire year. For example, if I were into winter activities primarily, I would want to settle in a location where the best winter season is prolonged. Conversely, if I prefer warm weather activities, it follows that I’d be looking for a warmer climate to retire in.
Since our retirement is going through three stages, and the last two is going to involve healthcare assistance. We need to be sure that the medical services, which we will sooner or later require, is readily available.
Where we have lived prior to retirement, may or may not have had restrictions, and regulation, which we need to abide by. I can guarantee that CCRCs and Retirement Communities do. So we need to be sure we understand what these restrictions and regulations are. The last thing we need to happen is to spend all the money these places require when moving in, and then find out, for instance, that your dog is not welcome. Or is it Okay for the grand kids to stay over a couple nights a month.
Also are there additional fees that can be costly. For example, some communities make it mandatory to purchase an ownership stake, and they call it an “equity membership”. That’s double talk for bend over, they’re going to stick it to ya. Now this fee can even amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a person is on the borderline of being able afford a community in the first place, a fee like this could bust a person’s retirement budget. Make sure all such cost are laid out on the table.
Getting the approval process disclosed is something we should do. There are communities which need to do, for all intents and purposes, a full background check on all prospective members. So if we have any ghost in our closet, and we don’t want them revealed, we need to be aware of how extensive the approval process is.
What kind of activities are available. We’ve spent our lives enjoying certain types of activities, and there is no reason why we should change our interest to match the activities available in a retirement community. Plus these retirement communities are very expensive, and they should provide activities which correspond to our interest.
How to protect ourselves
We can check to see if a community is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). This accreditation is not mandatory. And if a community is not accredited, does not necessarily mean that the community does not offer a quality service. If it is accredited, however, is proof of it’s quality service and care.
What every community has, and is something which we can check is its state license. That license needs to be renewed every three years. The licensing survey, which is a product of that renewal process is available. We can learn a lot about a community, studying that survey.
We can also learn a wealth of information by talking to current members of a community. These current members are old, and old people love to talk, and they are generally very honest. If, want an ear full just talk to a resident.
When picking a CCRC or a Retirement Community, bear in mind that it’s going to the most difficult thing that we’ve done lately. The research process is also the most important thing we’ve done lately. If, we choose wisely, our retirement years will be enjoyable.
That’s all I got for now. I hope this post has been informative. I do want to hear from you if you have anything to add, or even if you disagree with any of my thoughts. You can leave your comments below.