Transitioning into your 50s is a major milestone for most. Couples with children get to enjoy an empty nest for the first time and relearn how to enjoy life with kid-like joy. You’ve lived the first phase of your life and are ready to enjoy the next stage, which will undoubtedly bring new and exciting memories.
You’re not focusing on the long-term future aside from the typical day-to-day routines, and in most cases, your mind isn’t on whether you should be moving to a retirement community. You’ve never felt this uninhibited and free!
Here’s the thing, though – planning for your future is essential. The best time to think about the future is when you’re young and feeling at the top of your game. Aging is a fact of life, although not everyone enjoys thinking about it. If you wait to make major decisions until you need support, you could end up with fewer options, less time to make the best decision for yourself and your family, and less time to enjoy the amenities and services at your disposal. You could face even more concerns if there’s a waiting list to join a community you’re excited to join.
When you make informed decisions now that put you in control of your future, you can actively pursue new interests while feeling confident that you will have supportive living options when you need them.
Consider a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
While you may not be thinking of making a change just yet, and the thought of moving into a community with continuing support may seem unnecessary, you might not fully understand what a CCRC is and all it has to offer. CCRCs are communities that provide all the perks of independent living with options for medical or memory support later on, should you need it.
Supportive living environments aren’t designed for adults who want to slow down – although that’s also an option – most communities are centered around active lifestyles and are full of fun people and lots of adventure just waiting for you to join in. At a supportive living community like a CCRC, you’ll have easy access to a range of living environments where you get to enjoy as much independence as possible and know that wellness support is available whenever needed.
The Different Levels of Support in Communities
At a supportive living community, there are different levels of care all within the same property. Typically, a person joins a waiting list to get access to the community when they are healthy and active, right around the age of 55. Once accepted, they’ll join the other 55+ residents that reside in independent living. Here, you’ll enjoy the benefits of living independently while also gaining access to the full amenities offered by the community – including maintenance, housekeeping and laundry. You also have access to any support services you may need, such as physical therapy.
Independent living is very similar to living in your own home, except you don’t need to worry about the typical stressors, such as maintaining a house. If your health needs change, you can transfer to one of the higher levels of care, such as assisted living. At this stage, residents receive a more intermediate level of support and get both medical and personal needs met.
Supportive living environment can also accommodate residents that have more demanding support needs. Many communities include memory care options that are specialized for those with Alzheimer’s or other memory impairments, for example.
Who Needs a Supportive Living Environment?
You might think that as a healthy 55+ adult, you do not need this type of community – and you’d be right. You don’t need it, but you can enjoy it. Communities include programs and activities, convenient services and amenities that help adults pursue their interests to the fullest.
Supportive living communities also help you create a plan to help if or when you decide to slow down, alleviating any potential future burden on your family and friends. This way, you’re established in a community that helps you pursue an exceptional lifestyle with neighbors and amenities you love.
When to Begin Looking for the Right Community
Many communities have waiting lists that are years long, so starting before or right around the time you retire can help prevent any delays.
Since there are waiting lists, you can begin doing your homework early on if you know you want to pursue supportive living in the future. However, as circumstances and availability can change quickly, it is recommended that you make the transition sooner rather than later to get the full benefits of a premium community.
Here are some of the reasons that people begin looking into a CCRC:
- They are new empty nesters and want to consider their options for the future
- A spouse has passed away, and they want to downsize
- They are approaching age 55 and have heard that communities are a fun, popular alternative to owning and maintaining their own home
- They want to focus on their interests and wellness and want to secure a spot in a community that supports their personal situation and goals
- Their family members or friends suggest the option as part of their retirement planning
The Benefits of CCRCs
There are many wonderful benefits to living in one of these communities. First, you’ll gain ongoing support, amenities and services that will help increase your quality of life and help you handle any changes that come up.
When you decide to join a CCRC, you’re benefiting from the freedom and flexibility of living on your own, but don’t have to worry about things like lawn care, trash collection or meals. You even get the perk of housecleaning services. You can come and go as you please, have visitors and take advantage of wellness programs.
Here are a few more perks to look forward to at a CCRC:
- Security on site
- Lawn care services
- Garbage collection
- Housekeeping services
- Dining on site
- Transportation options available
- Laundry services
- Some utilities may be included
- Health monitoring services including on-site nursing
- Help with medical insurance forms and other needs
- Personal conveniences such as a bank, library, salon, etc.
- Organized social and recreational activities
Social and recreational activities can range from craft and woodworking activities to educational programs, exercise classes, gardening, games and much more!
How to Choose the Right CCRC for You
Choosing your new community is a big decision and an important part of retirement planning. Many things can determine which community you end up picking, from finances to amenities.
We suggest that you visit each potential new home, even more than once. You want to get a feel for every section of the community, the staff and the amenities. Talk to the residents, as these are your potential neighbors.
Get a feel for your potential team members: the staff and wellness professionals. Check to see if the community members are getting the support they need. Enjoy an entree in the dining area and ask questions.
According to SeniorLiving.com:
“Most CCRC residents that have done their research and chosen wisely have no regrets about moving to a CCRC. They have discovered new lifestyle options and joyful experiences they would not have found anywhere else.”
With that said, doing your research is the key here. These are some questions you should consider when you visit a supportive living community:
- Are the staff well-trained? Do they go through any special training or have a criminal background check?
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
- If I’m in the independent living area and need to move to a different stage, what happens if they are full?
- Is there a unit for memory care needs or is memory care incorporated into other areas?
- Is the location well-maintained? Is it clean and safe? Does it cater to all abilities?
- Is the CCRC accredited?
- What types of recreational activities are offered? Who is in charge of these and how often do they take place?
- If I move in with my spouse and one of us needs to move to a different stage of care, what happens?
- What is the fee structure, and what does it include?
- What are the community’s rules and regulations?
- Can I have pets? At which stages?
- How often is my health assessed for determining what level of support I need?
What the Research Suggests
A survey of over 200 continuous care retirement communities showed that most families are happy with the services received at their communities. This study helps explain how popular communities are becoming in retirement decisions and what potential residents are looking for in a CCRC. Knowing these statistics may help you in making your decision and are worth sharing here:
- 93% of families agree that CCRCs are providing good services to their family members
- 99% of the respondents said that the community’s cost and value was very important to them
- 98% noted that the reputation of the community factored into their decision-making process
- 97% said that the availability of on-site health care was important
Most, if not all, independent living residents end up wondering why they didn’t make the move sooner
The Decision is Yours, but Sooner is Usually Better
It’s highly likely that at some point in your life, you will need some type of support. While this may not happen for some time, living in a community in mind can take the stress off your plate and ease the minds of your family and friends. Choosing a CCRC now provides many benefits you can’t necessarily get anywhere else.
Even if you’re not convinced that this is a good option for your future, exploring these communities to see what they have to offer and if they’re a good fit for you is a smart choice. Why not see what they’re all about beyond merely reading about them?
At Forest Hill, we’re here to help you understand your community options and make the right decision. We’re the first continuing care retirement community in Monterey, California and pride ourselves on providing unparalleled support and lifestyle choices to our residents. Contact us to learn more or visit our community.