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When should you investigate senior living options? Right now.

Posted Dec 02 2008 6:30pm

by Jo Lord 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.”

By Jo Lord

Filed under: retirement, retirement communities, senior living, seniors | Tagged: retirement communities, senior living, seniors

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