There are certain things in life that, if you wait until you feel absolutely certain that you’re ready and the timing is perfect, you will probably never do — getting married, buying a house, having children, and retiring among them. Another milestone that is commonly on this list is moving to a retirement community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC or life plan community).
Based on our research, seniors have a variety of reasons they typically state for putting off a CCRC move, for example:
- Not feeling like they are old enough
- Worrying about long-term affordability
- Avoiding downsizing (i.e., dealing with all of their “stuff” and selling a home)
All of these reasons are completely understandable, but in reality, there is never a “perfect” time to do much of anything in this life!
The timing may be better than you think
Maybe you have been toying with the idea of moving to a CCRC, but you aren’t sure if the timing is right. Here are four ways to know that you are ready to begin considering a CCRC move.
You’re ready for a new chapter in life.
I remember a conversation I had a couple of years ago with a resident of a CCRC in Maryland. I asked her why she had chosen to make the move. She explained how a few of her friends had moved away over the past couple of years, and a couple of them had passed away. Although she is an active and social person by nature, she increasingly found herself sitting at home by herself watching TV or reading a book. She could feel that she was heading down a path that probably wasn’t the healthiest for her, not to mention that she was just bored at times.
For her, moving to a CCRC represented a new chapter in her life. She described to me how much she now enjoyed living there and how she was involved in several different social groups within the community.
I hear stories like this all the time in my conversations with residents of CCRCs. Many of them tell me that it was the best decision they ever made, and that every day when they wake up, they have to decide among all the various options for how to spend their time.
You feel a sense of urgency about protecting against the unknowns.
Perhaps you don’t feel you need a whole new chapter in your life. Rather, you just want to continue living life as it is. Still, you recognize that while your health is good now, it could change gradually over time or suddenly and unexpectedly. This is true for anyone but particularly for older adults.
According to the American Heart Association, someone in the U.S. has a stroke (a leading cause of serious long-term disability) every 40 seconds on average. The incidence of heart attack is also around one every 40 seconds, with the average age at the first heart attack being 65.6 years for males and 72.0 years for females.
According to 2017 data, around 70 percent of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests (OHCA) occur in the home. In fact, cardiovascular disease (which can lead to a stroke or heart attack) takes more lives annually than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined.
While these statistics are chilling, they also are a motivating factor for some seniors’ move to a CCRC as they seek peace of mind about their future health. In a CCRC, you have on-site access to a full continuum of care services, from assisted living to full-time skilled nursing care in the community’s healthcare center.
If you are a solo-ager, or even a couple without family members nearby, preparing for life’s unknowns may be even more important to you. You want to have a plan in place now, before it is too late. Furthermore, if the community offers a lifecare contract, you also may gain financial peace of mind knowing that you will not pay more for care, regardless of how much care you ultimately need and for how long.
>> Related: A Primer on CCRC Residency Contracts
You don’t want to change the lightbulbs anymore.
This is really a way of saying that you are tired of taking care of all that goes with maintaining a house. I can’t even count how many CCRC residents I’ve spoken with who say, “If a lightbulb goes out, all I have to do is make a call or send an email, and it’s taken care of.”
Indeed, for those who want to live an easy lifestyle without the hassle of home maintenance, a CCRC may be a good option. No more yardwork, no more shoveling snow, no more painting the shutters. Many CCRCs also include a weekly visit from a housekeeper and linen services, as well as other cleaning/laundry services for an additional fee.
With far fewer chores on your to-do list, you will have more time to spend doing what you enjoy!
You need a wellness supercharge.
One of the main areas of focus right now among CCRC operators is how to offer a superb wellness program for residents that encompasses not only physical fitness but all other components, e.g., vocational, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, etc. As a result, we are seeing more and more CCRCs partnering with local schools and universities, introducing intergenerational programs, hosting life-long learning programs, and more.
Sure, these are all things that retirees can do on their own, but in a CCRC, it is already planned and scheduled. Residents only have to show up, and the community even provides the transportation. (This is really nice if it’s an off-campus event where alcohol is consumed.)
Ready-ish for a CCRC move?
As I’ve said many times previously, I don’t believe there is one senior living solution that is right for everyone, and I don’t mean to give a sales pitch for CCRCs. However, if you identify with one or more of the above, then perhaps it’s time to give serious consideration to moving to a CCRC. You may be more ready than you think!