Why study Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) and other Senior Living Communites? What makes this unique and is it worth the cost in time and money?
We’re a Baby Boomer couple, empty nesters, seriously planning the financial and physical circumstances of our next many years. So why spend time studying senior living communities? We know the statistics. Social engagement is a huge predictor of both longer and healthier life and the cost of these communities is only increasing with time. So, a wise community choice will have a large impact on how we age — and our enjoyment of our final years.
Come along on our search for the best in senior living communities! And our desire to avoid the worst — the disasters waiting to happen.
We each have experience with our own folks. They were well into their seventies before age began to significantly sap energy and health. In both cases, a move to more supportive, community-focused life care or Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) yielded reduced daily burdens and increased happiness. After the fact, the comment, “I wish I’d done it sooner,” is frequently heard. We are likely to live many years past the nominal retirement age. We resolved to act for ourselves sooner rather than later.
Besides, we see the CCRC (continuing care retirement communities) environment as something of a return to the fun, collegial living environment of college, albeit with much nicer apartments, cottages or villas than our old dorm rooms.
We have planned for a continuing care retirement community since we first started thinking about retirement. We don’t need to be sold on the idea. But we do need to be sold on the community type and individual community.
Lori brings to the search a career supervising the design and construction of commercial projects including life care communities, other health care facilities, and more.
A life care or CCRC (continuing care retirement communities) or other senior living campus has a remarkable number of aesthetic, functional and regulatory demands. Just site planning a large community is remarkably challenging. Creating a built environment that encourages a social community and still provides residential privacy requires attention to detail. The best examples show remarkable foresight and integrative thinking, solving multiple challenges. The worst campuses make it up as they go. The design issues no one ever considered are all too obvious after the fact.”
Dan began as a business lawyer and moved more and more into business investments, technology transfer, and entrepreneurial coaching. “I like Stephen Covey’s principle, ‘Seek first to understand,’ so I ask a lot of questions.”
Early in his career, Dan was a state insurance regulator in a state that regulates CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities) to protect consumers against financial failure.
Everyone tells folks planning for retirement to get long-term care (LTC) insurance. I’m a contrarian. Per premium dollar sold, no insurance product generates more consumer complaints than long-term care insurance. Consumers don’t think they get what they pay for with long-term care insurance. Worse, it’s no better for the insurers. I saw what unexpectedly large claims did to the financial stability of the insurers. Long-term care insurance consumers were almost by definition unhappy. But the insurers were no happier. The insurers were too often fiscally stressed by prior LTC offerings. By contrast, Life Care or CCRC consumers were generally happy. It occurred to me there was a lesson in there somewhere.”
CCRCs aren’t perfect and we’re likely to learn a lot through this journey.
The Great Recession of 2008 and its after effects crashed several CCRCs around the country, including one in our home-town developed and originally managed by a top for-profit expert in the field. This highlighted to us that shiny new buildings or even expert management did not mean financially sound.
Both LTC insurance and traditional Life Care or type A CCRC contracts feature an element of insurance. Both types of contracts promise care in the future. Financial stability of the community is important.
CCRC’s mix together real estate, hospitality and health services, and insurance into a bundled price. Figuring out if the price is a good deal for you is the challenge. Prospective residents can see the brick and mortar. The real estate is important. But the unique value proposition to choose a CCRC over an apartment, condo or house includes the intangible promises of future services. We realized an in-depth dive was required to understand the fine print and compare opaque contracts and prices. Picking based on the physical real estate alone could be an expensive mistake. Like an annuity, a CCRC provides security but at the expense of flexibility. Once in a community, it’s very expensive to get out.
Why study CCRC industry? Picking the best CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) and avoiding the worst
We need to disaggregate the numbers to allow clearer apple-to-apple comparisons to facilitate our own choice.
We’re committed to the general concept of a CCRC for our needs as we age. But that leaves picking the best from among the rest and avoiding the worst.
We figured you might be interested in what we learn and have a little fun in the process! Why study CCRC and senior living communities? Share your thoughts and comments below: