You get to come along on our search for the best in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). And our desire to avoid the worst — the disasters waiting to happen.
We’re a Baby Boom couple, empty nesters, seriously planning the financial and physical circumstances of our next many years. We know the statistics. Social engagement is a huge predictor of both longer and healthier life.
We each have experience with our own folks. They were well into their seventies and early eighties before age began to significantly sap energy and health. In both cases a move to more supportive, community-focused Life Care or Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) yielded reduced daily burdens and increased happiness. After the fact, the comment, “I’d wish I’d done it sooner,” is frequently heard. We are likely to live many years past nominal retirement age. We resolved to act for ourselves sooner rather than later.
Besides, we see the CCRC environment as something of a return to the fun, collegial living environment of college, albeit with much nicer apartments, cottages or villas than our old dorm rooms.
Why Study CCRCs: About Us!
Lori brings to the search a career supervising the design and construction of complex commercial projects including Life Care communities, other health care facilities and more. As an MBA she worries about both our own finances and the financial stability of her contractors. As a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a design professional, she has an eye for the details in execution.
A LifeCare or CCRC or other senior living campus has a remarkable number of aesthetic, functional and regulatory demands. Just site planning a large community is remarkably challenging. Creating a built environment that encourages a social community and still provides residential privacy requires attention to detail. The best examples show remarkable foresight and integrative thinking, solving multiple challenges. The worst campuses make it up as they go. The design issues no one ever considered are all too obvious after the fact.”
Dan began as a business lawyer and moved more and more into business investments, technology transfer and entrepreneurial coaching. “I like Stephen Covey’s principle, ‘Seek first to understand,’ so I ask a lot of questions.”
Early in his career, Dan was a state insurance regulator in a state that regulates CCRCs to protect consumers against financial failure.
Everyone tells folks planning for retirement to get long-term care (LTC) insurance. I’m a contrarian. Per premium dollar sold, no insurance product generates more consumer complaints than long-term care insurance. Consumers don’t think they get what they pay for with long-term care insurance. Worse, it’s no better for the insurers. I saw what unexpectedly large claims did to the financial stability of the insurers. Long-term care insurance consumers were almost by definition unhappy. But the insurers were no happier. The insurers were too often fiscally stressed by prior LTC offerings. By contrast, LifeCare or CCRC consumers were generally happy. It occurred to me there was a lesson in there somewhere.”
CCRCs aren’t perfect. The Great Recession of 2008 and its after effects crashed several CCRCs around the country, including one in our home town developed and originally managed by a top for-profit expert in the field. This highlighted to us that shiny new buildings or even expert management did not mean financially sound. And it showed us that we needed to deeply study CCRCs to make a the best informed future move for us.
Both LTC insurance and traditional LifeCare or full-service CCRC contracts feature an element of insurance. Both types of contracts promise care in the future. Financial stability of the community is important.
CCRC’s mix together real estate, hospitality and health services, and insurance into a bundled price. Figuring out if the price is a good deal for you is the challenge. Prospective residents can see the brick and mortar. The real estate is important. But the unique value proposition to choose a CCRC over an apartment, condo or a house includes the intangible promises of future services. We realized an in-depth dive was required to understand the fine print and compare opaque contracts and prices. Picking based on the physical real estate alone could be an expensive mistake.
Why Study CCRCs: Picking the best CCRCs and avoiding the worst
We need to disaggregate the numbers to allow clearer apple-to-apple comparisons to facilitate our own choice.
We’re committed to the general concept of a CCRC for our needs as we age. But that leaves picking the best from among the rest and avoiding the worst. So here is where our journey to study CCRCs begins.
We figured you might be interested in what we learn and have a little fun in the process.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” -Maya Angelou