When should you investigate senior living options? Right now.
Posted Dec 02 2008 6:30pm
In Senior communities, as in life, timing is everything
Where will you spend your senior years? The decision is incredibly important, with a host of considerations. Tina McLeod, Director of Marketing at The Cedars of Chapel Hill, says you should factor in your health as well as a community’s financial model, its sponsor’s reputation, medical facilities, wellness programs, staff-to-resident ratio, activities and environment. One detail that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is timing. The Triangle’s senior population is booming, and many people don’t realize that communities may have long waiting lists. Here, we look at senior living options and how timing may affect your decision.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities.
May Have Waiting Lists. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer a wonderful, active lifestyle. They also give residents peace of mind knowing that their ongoing health and housing needs will be met on-site. One timing-related issue with CCRCs is that most assess prospective residents to determine whether they are physically and mentally capable of independent living before accepting them; wait too long and you may lose that window of opportunity. There’s also the issue of long waiting lists. Maryella Cameron, Director of Marketing at Glenaire, says the wait is generally about two years but may be longer. She advises investigating CCRCs in your late 60s or early 70s.
Don Gardner, 80, started investigating CCRCs after his wife’s death eight years ago. “I needed a place to spend my retirement years and chose a CCRC because of the health care. I didn’t want to be a burden to my son.” Fortunately, Gardner wasn’t faced with a waiting list for his Chapel Hill CCRC because it was just being built. He says he’s happy with his decision and adds, “I’ve made some really good friends here.”
Best to Investigate Independent Living.
Communities Early. Independent living communities offer apartments or homes with extra services such as maintenance, transportation and, sometimes, limited medical care. According to Yvonne Dewald, Marketing Director at Independence Village, these communities don’t offer the continuing care that CCRCs do, but neither do they charge a CCRC’s large, up- front fee for such care. Of the timing issue, Dewald says, “People should start investigating when they begin their financial planning, in their 40s. My advice is to look into options ASAP when you’re young. If that doesn’t happen, at least do it five years prior to retirement.”
Georgie Tilley, 84, moved into Dewald’s community in Raleigh a decade ago after breaking her shoulder at home. “I had all kinds of help but I realized I needed somebody on occasion. I immediately knew [an independent living community] was what I wanted and started making plans. I broke my shoulder on the last day of the year and made arrangements to move in September of the next year.”