For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, I assume that most of you fall into the role of planners. You are already thinking about your options for the near-term, as well as for the more distant future when you may need more services.
What is the difference between the three groups?
Continuous Care Planners
These people are in acceptance of the fact that they will probably need help or extended care at some point in the future. They also do not want to be a burden on their adult children or other members of their family. They want to have fun and enjoy life as long as they can, while feeling comfortable that they have taken steps early to assure that they will be taken care of when the time comes and they need more help. These are the people who explore their options early, decide where they would like to live when they are ready, and let other family members know about their decision.
Continuous Care Procrastinators
Procrastinators are similar to planners except they postpone investigating continuing care facilities as long as they possibly can. Sometimes they later regret their procrastination, later admitting they wish they had made the decision and moved sooner. They just didn't realize how much more fun they could have been having by moving to a community where they no longer had to worry about meal preparation, cleaning and similar day-to-day chores.
Continuing Care Crashers
These are the people who do not believe that they will ever need help. Sometimes you may hear them say things like, "I don't expect to live that long," or "With a heart like mine, I'll probably die suddenly," or "I eat right and take care of myself so I don't think I will ever need someone to help care for me." No matter which opinion they hold, there is a good chance that they will be wrong. With today's modern healthcare advances, people often do end up living longer than they expect and discover that they do need assistance later in life, whether they ever thought that would happen or not. What frequently happens with this group is that they go directly from independent living in their own home directly into a skilled nursing facility, skipping the transition period of living independently in a continuing care community.
Which Is the Right Choice for You?
There is nothing wrong with falling into any of these categories. Of course, the managers of Continuing Care Retirement Communities would prefer that people move into their facilities when they are in their late sixties or early seventies. However, for people who are still working or active, this may not be the right decision. Becoming a procrastinator may be the right decision for a large percentage of people. I know my husband, who still works, enjoys our traditional over-55 community that does not provide continuing care. I don't think he would be happy living in a CCRC where no one else had a job.
In fact, there is a good chance that many people, like my husband, would be perfectly happy to be labeled as "Crashers." He plans to continue to work for several more years and has no intention of moving out of our current community until he is ready for a nursing home. Circumstances may change as we get older, but that is how he feels at the moment.
On the other hand, if I were a widow in my seventies, I would probably be perfectly happy in one of the Continuing Care Retirement Communities in our area (and there are a number of lovely ones.) I know that I do not always prepare healthy meals for myself when I am home alone and it would be nice not to have to worry about it. I also enjoy being around other people and would love to be in a social community where my meals are prepared and there are planned trips, outings and parties I could enjoy, as long as I also had my own, private apartment or cottage.
This is a decision that each of us has to make on our own. The important issue is not which category you fall into. What is important is that you make the decision consciously. Personally I've always believed that the best inheritance we can give our children is the knowledge that they will not have to spend their senior years taking care of us when we are sick and fragile. I am investigating various CCRC's because I want to know that regardless of the type of illness or dementia that may befall me, my children will not have to feed and care for me 24 hours a day in my later years.
If you are interested in learning more about Continuing Care Retirement Communities, you may be interested in reading this article that I wrote last week:
Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community
In addition, be sure to check out the tabs at the top of this page to read more about where to retire, family relationships, medical issues and financial planning, including topics like long-term care insurance and its alternatives.
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