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Making the Move: Five Things You Should Know About Senior Living Communities

By Michele Harris
July 27, 2021
Five Things to Know About Senior Living

Older adults have a multitude of options when it comes to deciding where to live, whether it's aging in place or making a move. Especially for those who decide they're done with the expense and upkeep of their house, moving can be a sound choice, whether it's to a 55+ community, rental apartment, or a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). 

1. CCRCs offer a variety of living options
CCRCS have the benefit of offering a variety of housing options and care levels on a single campus—so that residents can move to one nearby community and remain there even if their needs change.

“A CCRC provides care and services for older adults no matter what their health care needs are,” notes Kevin Heffner, president and CEO of LifeSpan Network, a senior living trade group in Maryland. “There’s independent living in apartments, assisted living, and skilled nursing all within the same community.” 
Independent living includes the largest number of residents, which has driven the demand for active, amenity-filled communities.

Many people falsely believe that CCRCs and nursing homes are the same, but they are vastly different. 

“Moving into a nursing home is need driven 100% of the time, whereas moving to a CCRC is want- or lifestyle-driven,” says Heffner. “People move to a CCRC for that sense of community—that sense of connectivity. What I typically hear from people who move into CCRCs is that they only wish they had done it sooner.”

2. CCRCs represent a great financial value
“The value proposition is that if you own your home and it's paid for, the entry fee typically comes from the sale of your home,” says Heffner. “The other part of the equation is that your retirement savings and your social security pay for your monthly expenses while you’re living in a CCRC.” 

Nine years ago, Gen Metzger and her husband Bill moved to Oak Crest, an Erickson Senior Living community in Parkville, Md. 

“There’s complimentary transportation to local stores. There’s lots of clubs and activities. The campus restaurants are great and there’s the fitness center, which is professionally staffed. If there is an emergency, you can call [emergency responders] immediately just by pulling a cord. All of that is included in our monthly fee.”

Gen doesn't miss the financial burden of maintaining their home. “When you think about how much you pay a plumber when a pipe bursts or what you pay to have the snow shoveled…those types of costs really add up. Here, it’s covered,” she says. “Even if it’s something small like a ceiling light bulb that needs changing, you call, and they come and change it. Things are very well taken care of.” 

Major repairs such as needing a new HVAC system or roof can also derail a budget, as well as ongoing bills such as property taxes and utilities. 

3. CCRC residents are healthier and happier
“There is a lot of data demonstrating that living in a congregate environment like a CCRC extends your longevity,” says Heffner. “There’s also compelling data suggesting you live healthier, happier, and more engaged.” 

CCRC residents who participated in a study by the Mather Institute and Northwestern University reported higher levels of health and wellness compared to older adults in the community at large. 

A separate, large-scale U.K. study also found that CCRC residents spent significantly less time in the hospital from falls and other unplanned health events. They experienced less anxiety and were an astounding 75 percent more physically active than those opting to age in place. “Loneliness is a concern as you age,” says Gen. “We liked that at Oak Crest we can be as private as we want to be, but at the same time, we see people. We are a part of a community and the people here are very welcoming and friendly.” 

4. CCRC residents enjoy the freedom of a streamlined life!
If you’re moving from a large house to an apartment home, you’ll want to take the opportunity to edit what you take to your new home. 

“At the beginning it is extremely emotional because everything has sentimental value, but it doesn’t take long to realize that you don’t really need all that stuff,” says Gen. 

“There are people here who help you figure things out. Where you can sell it or donate it. And when you realize you have something sitting in the basement collecting dust that someone else could use, it feels good to give it to someone who will value it.” 

Once settled in their fresh, new apartment homes, CCRC residents discover how liberating it is to live with less clutter. 

5. Residents appreciate the lack of stress
“When it comes to moving, a lot of people say, ‘We’re not ready yet,’” says Gen. “I think that the secret to success in a senior living community is that you move while you can take advantage of all the wonderful activities. That’s what they’re here for.” 

“Living at Oak Crest has given us a chance to enjoy this time of our lives with less worry, more friends, more socialization, and a true chance to enjoy these years,” says Gen. 

It’s worth it to take time to research your senior living options. If you’d like to learn more about the financial advantages and other benefits of a CCRC, request more information today
 

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