As I present to and talk with people at continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs, also called life plan communities) across the country, there are certain “recurring themes” that I hear. One subject that is frequently voiced revolves around the stress associated with envisioning and planning for the future, and indeed, it can feel like a daunting task since none of us has the luxury of a crystal ball. That’s why the results of a recent survey caught my eye.
The study was conducted by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), a division of the nonprofit Transamerica Institute, which strives to educate people on retirement security trends in the U.S. This annual survey asked over 5,000 Americans in the workforce about their top retirement/aging-related concerns. Here were the top five responses:
- Outliving savings/investments (51 percent)
- Social Security will be reduced or cease to exist in the future (47 percent)
- Declining health that requires long-term care (45 percent).
- Cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease (35 percent)
- Lack of adequate and affordable healthcare (32 percent)
I was struck by these results because in many ways, they run in parallel to a separate survey that I often reference when I’m presenting to groups. It’s a 2013 survey conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave, and it highlights respondents’ biggest concerns about living a long lifetime. The results were as follows:
- Serious health problems (72 percent)
- Not being a burden on family (60 percent)
- Running out of money to live comfortably (47 percent)
- Being lonely (26 percent)
- Not having a purpose (21 percent)
Isn’t it more than a tad ironic that while most people hope to live a long life, simultaneously, they are worried about what will happen if that wish comes to fruition?
Useful perspective for financial planners
We hear a lot of talk about the importance of having enough money for retirement–401(k)s, IRAs, etc.–and of course saving should be a crucial part of anyone’s long-term retirement plan. But for me, the most striking aspect of the two studies described above is that several of the concerns voiced by the surveys’ respondents are not related to money or retirement savings, at least not directly.
From the standpoint of financial advisors, that’s a really significant finding. Understanding clients’ pain points around retirement planning can help financial professionals offer better guidance on the issues that matter most to soon-to-be retirees. After all, one of the motivations for planning for the future is to alleviate some of the anxiety about the unknown–and these studies show that people aren’t just worried about their bank account balance. So, financial planners would benefit from understanding the various options, such as continuing care retirement communities and other senior living options that are available for their clients to plan for potential age-related health issues like cognitive and physical decline that could necessitate long-term care.
Alleviating worries for retirees-to-be
But these study results also are noteworthy for people who are themselves approaching retirement age. Perhaps you’re diligently saving to prepare for the future, but it’s those health and wellness “unknowns” that are keeping you up at night. That’s where a CCRC may become a viable option worth considering.
Planning for an eventual move to a CCRC can allay many of the worries that people express again and again about their retirement years (as evidenced by the aforementioned surveys). CCRCs offer their residents access to a continuum of progressive care services ranging from independent living to full-time skilled nursing care…and everything in between…all within the same community campus. Many CCRCs also provide memory care services for people experiencing a cognitive decline related to conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This range of care affords tremendous peace of mind for CCRC residents, knowing that they will have ready-access to the level of care they need, if and when they need it, and knowing they will not become a burden to their adult children.
Feeling more confident about future unknowns
It’s understandable and normal to have some worries associated with the aging process and the prospect of retirement–after all, you’ve never done this before! But many points of anxiety can be alleviated through proper financial planning and understanding the advantages of senior living options like CCRCs, which include the necessary facilities and skilled caregivers to attend to your potential physical or mental health needs down the road.
To explore the CCRCs in your area, check out our free online community search tool. It is a great resource to help understand the services, amenities, and perhaps most important, the peace of mind, offered by CCRCs.
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