Continuing Care Retirement Communities

A senior couple enjoys life together in a continuing care retirement communityI hadn't heard of continuing care retirement communities(CCRCs) when one opened up two blocks from my home, so a friend and I went to the open house. We were both impressed.

We began our tour where we imagined we would move in -- in the independent living wing. The residents each had an apartment. Couples could live together. Each suite included a small kitchen and a fabulous bathroom that would allow a person to wheel right into the large shower. The living area was small, but light and airy. Residents could opt to cook their own meals or eat in the family style dining room.

Next was the assisted living wing for those who needed help with food, bathing, and dressing. Each resident here had a large bright room with a private bathroom. Tracks for special lifting and carrying harnesses ran throughout the ceiling so it would be easy for staff to move a client from the bed to the toilet or to a favorite chair. Assisted living clients ate in the family style dining room.

For those who needed more attention, there was a nursing home care floor with a nursing station.

Separated from the main building were a series of cottages for clients with Alzheimer's. Specially trained staff members lived in with clients and provided the balance of independence and safety precautions needed.

The main benefit of living in a continuing care retirement community is that you can stay in one place regardless of the degree of your physical needs. One couple I know moved into an independent living apartment. When the wife's needs dictated a move, she was transferred to assisted living while her husband stayed in their apartment. Over time, as their needs changed, so did their placements. Now both are on the nursing home floor receiving complex care.

Who Benefits From Continuing Care Retirement Communities?

Consider a continuing care retirement facility if you want to live in a seniors-only environment.

This is not cradle-to-grave housing, so if you are caring for grandchildren, you would not qualify. Even without youngsters, there are noise regulations that would not suit those who want an active night life at home.

Consider a continuing care retirement facility if you want to stay with a loved one.

The couple I mentioned above have been able to stay together through their varying levels of need. This is in stark contrast to the situation faced by many where couples are separated, sometimes by many miles. When you can't travel easily, it's comforting to have a life partner easily accessible.

It's easier for family members to stay in touch with both members of a couple in a CCRC.

Consider a continuing care retirement facility if you think you will face deteriorating health.

Let's face it. We are living longer, but our bodies do eventually betray us. Most of us will face increasing physical and mental challenges. Those who live in continuing care communities do not have to scramble to find new placements when that becomes necessary.

Making A Plan For Continuous Retirement Care

The facility in my neighborhood is run by a registered charity. There are no entrance fees and residents pay on a sliding scale. No one is turned away if there is room.

Some facilities require large entrance fees and a long term contract. If you consider one of these facilities, do your homework. Ask to stay for a day or two -- many private facilities have guest suites just for this purpose. You don't want to sign a life-time contract only to discover two weeks after you move in that this is not the place for you. Have a lawyer explain the contract to you in lay language you understand.

Continuing care retirement communities are meeting a need for baby boomers and the demand for them is increasing. If you think this option is for you, be sure you put your name on a waiting list before you absolutely need to move in.

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