“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
—Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1746

We’ve all been there: You push the up or down button on the elevator, and then you wait. And wait. And wait. You heard the pulleys and gears grinding, and then finally: The elevator doors open. You step in and push the button for your desired destination, the doors close, and then you wait again—listening to the lift’s groaning mechanical sounds; watching the consecutive numbers illuminate as you are slowly raised or lowered to your terminus.

If you’re like me, you may not have given a lot of thought to the why’s and how’s of an elevator’s speed—you just accepted that some are faster than others. But if you are considering a move to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) or other senior living community, it might be something you’ll want to add to your list of considerations, since any multi-floor building will likely include an elevator.

>> Related: The Number 1 Deciding Factor When Choosing a CCRC

The very practical reason behind elevator speed

I recently spent an afternoon walking around the expo hall of the LeadingAge conference in Philadelphia and happened upon a booth for Schindler—that’s the brand name you see on the vast majority of elevators and escalators in the U.S.

I went up to the company rep to inquire about two things. First, I was interested to learn about their market share because I see their name at the bottom of nearly every elevator or escalator I ride. But second, I wanted to ask her why some of the CCRCs I visit have really slow elevators and others have faster ones. Her answer was really interesting.

She told me it’s often a budget decision. Apparently, faster elevators are more expensive than slower elevators. I never really thought about this, but it makes perfect sense. So, it is conceivable that there are some senior living developers that didn’t want to spend the money to buy a faster elevator.

Of course, I know there are many other factors that go into the decision. Perhaps the developer decided they could make due with one elevator for a building or for a certain area when they actually needed two to effectively accommodate demand. (The rule of thumb is one elevator per 60-90 units, but that can vary based on density per unit and what’s considered an acceptable wait time.)

In simpler terms: Elevators may not be a cost priority for many developers, and as a result, some CCRC residents have to wait and wait…and wait.

>> Related: “The Last Move”: Confronting Mortality with Your CCRC Decision

What is your time worth?

My point in sharing this experience: Can you imagine doing years of research to find the right CCRC, and spending all that money, and then moving in to find out you have to wait an inordinate amount of time every time you use the elevator? It would have to be a frustrating realization for any CCRC resident.

The takeaway from my conversation with the elevator rep is simple: When researching and visiting various CCRCs, it’s worth checking out the community’s elevator’s speed. Ride on it multiple times, and see if there appear to be enough lifts to meet the demand, especially around busy times like dinner. It may seem like a minor detail, but it is one that will impact your life multiple times each day.

FREE Detailed Profile Reports on CCRCs/Life Plan Communities
Search Communities