Although the vast majority of people who live in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) report that they are happy with their decision, there are many who delay a move indefinitely because they feel they are not ready yet.
Of course, moving to a CCRC is an important decision. It requires appropriate planning and should not be rushed. Yet, delaying the decision too long could mean missing the opportunity because a common entry requirement among CCRCs is the ability to live independently (i.e., “walk in”). Furthermore, even if your health remains good, delaying means missing out on many of the benefits that such a community could provide for you in the first place.
Here are a few of the most common underlying reasons why people say they are not ready:
“I don’t want to leave my home.” Leaving the home where you have lived for years, if not decades, is not easy. Your own home is a familiar environment and the memories you have built there will forever be cherished. But these are not necessarily the best reasons to stay in your home. Over time, the idea of staying in the home often proves to be easier in theory than in practice for many older adults and their family members. Sometimes staying in the home means delaying a move later to an assisted living facility or nursing home, at a time when moving to an unfamiliar environment is even more challenging physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
“I’m still independent.” Because continuous care retirement communities include assisted living and healthcare services on-site, there is a common misperception that they are long-term care facilities. However, the majority of residents in most CCRCs live independently. In fact, many residents of CCRCs lead independent and active lifestyles for many years before ever requiring long-term care services. Yet, they also recognize that things can change unexpectedly. They want a plan in place and do not want to be a burden on their children whenever that day comes.
“I do not want to deal with the hassles of moving.” Moving and de-cluttering isn’t easy at any age, but it will only become more difficult as you get older. If this is the main reason for your delay, then it is better to make the move sooner rather than later. This can even be meaningful time to share with adult children as you dust off old keepsakes together. Some retirement communities may include moving and de-cluttering services as an added incentive to help make your move easier.
“I am not yet comfortable with the decision financially.” There are many resources available to help you determine whether a continuing care community is a viable financial choice for you. Senior living financial calculators (like our Financial Calculator, available for inclusion on CCRCs’ websites) can help you run the numbers for yourself, taking into accounts factors such as entry fees, monthly fees, and cost of healthcare services. Additionally, if you have a financial planner who is well-versed in CCRC contracts, he or she should also be able to help. Finally, many CCRCs utilize actuarial software that helps them determine if your assets and income are adequate to cover your projected lifetime cost and will usually share the results with you.
If you are considering a CCRC but feel that you are not quite ready to make the move, then it could be helpful to think about what “not ready” means for you. Addressing the underlying reasons now, rather than later, helps assure that you keep your options open and could spur important conversations about what is ultimately best for your long-term situation.
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