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Perceptions of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Erickson Senior Living Research

Between January 2020 and April 2022, Erickson Senior Living conducted research to track perceptions of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) among Baby Boomers, the largest population of seniors in America*.

During the course of this research, COVID-19 came to directly influence Americans’ attitudes about congregant living in general and among seniors in particular.

Key Findings: Positive Perception Increased

Despite this broad attitudinal shift, interest in CCRCs among Baby Boomer respondents did not diminish across the three research stages.

In fact, during the course of Erickson Senior Living’s research, the perception of CCRCs by Baby Boomers has improved more than that of other care models since June 2020, the first summer of the pandemic.

  • Baby Boomers regard health care holistically to include not only one’s physical condition, but also one’s mental and emotional well-being.
  • Access to stress-reducing activities and opportunities to socialize in a diverse range of settings are deemed nearly as important as the availability of first-rate, on-site medical care.
  • The lifestyle available at CCRCs clearly allays concerns Baby Boomers have about the state of their personal health and provides an environment in which seniors can enjoy an active, engaged lifestyle with their peers.

Personal Health Is a Driving Factor

One reason Baby Boomers have maintained their interest in CCRCs appears to be the communities’ health care offerings. Among those surveyed, few are “very satisfied” with their personal physical health, the aspect of Baby Boomers’ lives with which they are least satisfied. This satisfaction decreased with each round of surveys.

Importance of Health-Related Services

Health-related services were among the most important considerations of survey respondents, specifically:

  • A large majority considered access to on-site emergency response personnel “very or somewhat important aspects of senior living communities.”
  • Nearly as many indicated that access to on-site care that changes along with personal needs – ranging from independent living to skilled nursing – was "very or somewhat important."
  • A similar percent of respondents said having access to an on-site medical center staffed by experts in senior health care was "very or somewhat important."

Life Satisfaction: CCRCs Meet Critical Need

Despite the now-widespread availability of Covid-19 vaccines and lower hospitalization rates that have enabled an increasing number of Americans to resume more “normal” daily activities, survey respondents indicate the satisfaction levels of Baby Boomers across a range of lifestyle categories have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Mental and Emotional Health

The percentage of respondents who were “very satisfied” with their state of mental and emotional health also declined from pre-pandemic levels. And fewer respondents are satisfied with their ability to socialize with friends and pursue recreational activities now compared to before the onset of the pandemic.

Social Opportunities

Not surprisingly, a large majority of respondents (88%) felt strongly that living in a community with a broad range of amenities, activities, services, and social opportunities is a top consideration.

Bottom line: The social and emotional benefits of the CCRC lifestyle meet a critical need for Baby Boomers — from stress reduction to social events to educational opportunities.

Retirement Planning

In the wake of pandemic-related stresses, a larger percentage of Baby Boomers in the most recent stage of research expressed plans to retire earlier than in the pre-pandemic round of research.

There was a slight decrease in the percentage of survey respondents who indicated they would retire at “about the age I wanted to” between the initial and final waves of research, while there was a slight uptick in the percentage of respondents who indicated they would retire older than initially expected.

*January 2020: first round research pre-COVID-19 pandemic
*June 2020: second round research at height of COVID-19 pandemic
*April 2022: final round research after COVID-19 vaccine availability