The decision to move to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC or life plan community) is rarely made in a vacuum. There are many people—in addition to the prospective resident—who can be impacted by the choice and whose opinions are considered in making a decision about a CCRC move. Often chief among these influencers are the would-be resident’s adult children.
The top priorities of almost all adult children is that they want their aging parents to receive whatever care they may need, and they want them to be happy in their living environment. But there are a number of variables that play into this seemingly simple equation including emotional, financial, and practical factors.
Reservations about parents’ CCRC move
When told that their aging mom and/or dad is considering a CCRC, some adult children will have a skeptical initial response—their parents aren’t old enough for one of those places. This reaction can be a manifestation of an adult child grappling with their aging parents’ mortality. More often though, it is borne of a lack of understanding or preconceived notions about what a CCRC actually is.
For those who have never visited a CCRC, they often imagine them to be an “old folks’ home” where everyone is in need of some level of assisted living or nursing care. They don’t realize that CCRCs are actually vibrant communities of seniors who land anywhere on the continuum of care, from active and completely independent to in need of full-time skilled nursing care. (At most CCRCs, the majority of their residents reside in the independent living portion of the community.)
Other adult children will have concerns about the financial aspect of a CCRC. Knowing that the entrance fee and monthly costs can be pricey, maybe they are worried that their parents will run out of money. They think maybe it would be cheaper for them to remain in their existing home, even if they need assistance. Or if they are being honest with themselves, perhaps some adult children are concerned that their parents would be spending their inheritance should they opt to move to a CCRC.
Yet another type of unsure adult child is one who may feel some sense of emotional apprehension or guilt about their parents moving to a CCRC. This may be a cultural norm that they are wrestling with or a self-imposed expectation that they should be the one to care for their aging parents. Or maybe they have fraught emotions around their parents giving up the home they grew up in and getting rid of much of their childhood memorabilia.
Adult children also may have more practical concerns about their parents downsizing and moving to a CCRC. They may be worried about all of the labor that goes into putting a home on the market, cleaning it out, packing up, and moving all of their “stuff” into a new CCRC home. It can be a daunting task for sure.
These are all legitimate reasons for an adult child to be apprehensive about their parents moving to a CCRC. I in no way mean to dismiss any of them because I know that for most adult children, their concerns come from a place of love. However, it is often a lack of understanding about the realities of what it’s like to move to and live in a CCRC that results in some inaccurate preconceptions about the decision and overlooks the many advantages of a CCRC move.
An adult child’s first-hand account
Other adult children are enthusiastic about the prospect of their aging parents moving to a CCRC. I recently got a first-hand account of one such positive perspective from Rachel, a member of our own myLifeSite marketing team.
Rachel’s parents moved about a month ago to The Pines, a CCRC in Davidson, North Carolina (pictured right). “I attended nearby Davidson College, so I was very familiar with what a beautiful and vibrant community The Pines is,” Rachel explained. She remembered seeing residents from The Pines at Davidson basketball games, auditing classes, and at local stores and restaurants when she was in school.
“My parents had been on the wait list at The Pines for a few years,” said Rachel, “so when their name came to the top of the list, I encouraged them to jump at the opportunity. I thought it would be easier on them to move while they are still relatively young and in good health, and it would also allow them to get involved in The Pines community and form a network of friends while they are still active.”
Rachel continued: “My parents had been living in their own home with no issues, but I often worried about what I would do if something happened to either of them. I have young children and a career, and my sister and I are both a plane ride away from our parents. I feel a tremendous sense of relief knowing that if and when they need assistance or nursing care, they will have easy access to outstanding care right there on the campus of The Pines, and they will be able to be in close proximity to one another no matter what happens.”
Rachel had seen her parents have to deal with the terminal illnesses of their own parents who lived in another state, so Rachel knew how difficult long-distance caregiving can be. Indeed, this experience was one of her parents’ driving factors in deciding to move to a CCRC.
>> Related: The Challenge of Long-Distance Caregiving
“My parents didn’t want my sister and me to have to deal with the stress that comes with caring for aging parents, especially from a distance,” noted Rachel. “I am fortunate that my parents have the financial means to move to a CCRC. I truly see it as a gift they are giving to our entire family that we won’t have to worry about the unknowns of the future when it comes to their care needs.”
The downsizing process is always a lot of work and can be highly emotional, but Rachel shared that the team at The Pines did make it easier. “They helped my parents determine which pieces of furniture would fit in their new apartment, they provided referrals for a fantastic company that did an estate sale, and they recommended several movers. My parents did still have to sort through all of their ‘stuff,’ but once they did that, the literal heavy-lifting was all taken care of for them. And I feel a big sense of relief that my sister and I won’t have to clean out that house!”
Seeing is believing
This past week, Rachel visited her parents in their new home at The Pines for the first time. “Their maintenance-free two-bedroom, two-bath apartment is beautiful and the perfect size for them at this point in life, plus it is dog-friendly. Mom and Dad got to pick out a new paint color, new tile flooring, and make some other tweaks prior to move-in to make it their own, so it felt like a brand-new unit.”
To get the full Pines experience, Rachel and her husband also ate dinner with her parents in the main dining hall. “The food was fresh, flavorful, and healthy, and the staff and other residents were warm and welcoming.”
She continued: “The Pines is doing a lot of renovations to update their facilities, including building a new casual pub, a larger fitness center, more independent living apartments, and a new nursing care unit. My husband and I were so impressed with my parents’ experience and The Pines’ physical campus during our visit that we agreed that if we met the age requirement, we’d be ready to move in now!”