The takeaway: Continuing Care Retirement Communities give you a place to live, provide lots of amenities and activities, and–depending on your contract–include long-term care. This post provides four steps to help you decide if these places are worth the money. The post also tells my experiences and impressions visiting two different communities in two different states. Your mileage may vary. 😉
In the last column we talked about Continuing Care Retirement Communities. These communities are housing developments that let you age in place, while also providing long-term care if you need it. They are one of the three major types of long-term care insurance you can buy; the other two were discussed in an earlier post.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities have some amazing amenities and offer help and services that might, otherwise, fall on your family to provide for you.
Nonetheless, these places aren’t for everyone. On a daily basis, you’re reminded that, at some point in this play called life, you’ll be called to exit stage left.
The best way to decide if one of these places is for you is to:
- get a list of the entrance and monthly fees;
- get written promotional materials, evaluate, the offerings, and decide if it seems worth the price;
- tour the community to get a vibe of the place, and;
- then, if you’re still interested, interview the sales staff, to whom you can direct the really tough questions.
Check out the four steps to see if these places are worth the money!”
Step 1. Get the price list.
The list should look like the prices quoted in the previous post on these communities.
Step 2. Get the promotional materials and see if it has these amenities and activities.
Evaluate these against the price you’ll be paying. Promotional material typically has wonderful photos of the community and its amenities. Determine if the following are worth the money.
1. Housing units, like
- studio apartments;,
- one and two bedroom apartments;
- duplexes; and
- single family homes.
2. Meals, which can include
- meal plans and
- community dining hall programs for those who don’t want to cook
3. Existence of wellness facilities and personnel, like
- a walk-in medical clinic;
- onsite doctor;
- onsite nurse;
- personal trainers; and
- physical therapists.
4. Recreation facilities, like
- putting greens;
- weight rooms;
- swimming pools; and
- tennis courts.
5. Availability of classes, like
- tai chi;
- balance mechanics;
- water aerobics; and
- life-long learning courses through the local colleges.
6. Home care maintenance, like
- home maintenance; and
- yard maintenance.
7. Transportation to such places as
- grocery stores;
- shopping malls; and
- doctors’ offices.
8. Types of services offered, like
- laundry; and
- yard maintenance.
9. Types of social activities, like
- movie nights;
- field trips; and
- on-site live entertainment.
10. Existence of onsite chapel and religious services.
Step 3. Tour the Continuing Care Retirement Community and ask yourself these questions.
If the price of the housing and amenities seems worth the money, take a tour of the community. See if the hype matches reality. While touring the community, ask yourself the following.
- Are the housing units appealing?
- Are there plenty of common meeting areas throughout the community to facilitate social engagement?
- Do residents seem generally happy or is there a bleak vibe permeating the place?
- Is the community well maintained or a little down in the heels?
- Is it clean?
- Are staff friendly?
- What’s the assisted living area like?
- Do nursing home residents seem well-cared for?
- Does the promotional material live up to its billing?
- Could I be happy living and aging here?
Sidebar: My experience touring two continuing care retirement communities.
For this post, I paid a couple of anonymous visits to two of these communities in two states. (Boomer, I need a life!) I ate a meal at each and saw the inside of some housing units. The housing units were generally light and airy. The food at one was quite good, while food at the other was clearly institutional.
One of the places had considerably more meeting places scattered throughout, where residents could socialize with each other, play cards, watch movies, and work gigantic jigsaw puzzles. The other community seemed to place some chairs here and there and considered that enough.
In both places, residents varied widely in physical capacity. Some looked ready for the pickle ball court. Others looked like it was time to call the coroner. Staff at both seemed warm and friendly, but were in greater abundance at one community than the other.
The nursing homes at both had superior ratings.
The community whose layout had more opportunities for social engagement and more friendly staff had, by far, the worst food.
The one with the fewer meeting places had a wider variety of housing options and a more beautiful setting–not to mention some pretty tasty food..
It’s all in what appeals to you and what you’re willing to live with–and without.”
If you’ve got the money, there’s something to be said for these communities. But it could be a financial disaster if you were to choose wrong.
Step 4. Ask sales staff the right questions.
In the next post, we’ll discuss step 4. Hint: it’s road-tested questions to ask the sales staff about the community. It needs a post all its own. You’ve got a lot of money–and your long-term care–riding on this thing. It literally pays to take your time and make sure it’s right for you.
See you in September!
(Hey! That might make a great song title… 😀 )
Long-Term Care Series.
- Long-Term Care: Three Vital Things You Need to Know
- Five Warnings You Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance Before You Buy
- Long-Term Care Insurance Quiz: Will I Need It? Can I Get It?
- 17 Ways to Get Turned Down for Long-Term Care Insurance. (And What Happened to Me.)
- Getting Medicaid to (Maybe) Pay for Your Nursing Home Costs: The Epic Guide!
- Three Types of Long-Term Care Insurance: You Might Not Need Any!
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Part 1 — Seven Essential Things to Know
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Part 2 — Four Ways to Figure Out if They’re Worth the Money
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Part 3 — What to Ask Before Signing on the Dotted Line.