By Brad Breeding
For many older adults who are currently independent, but like the idea of living in a setting where healthcare and long-term care services are available if needed, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC or “life plan community”) can be a great solution.
But when is the best time to make the move? There is no exact answer to this question because everyone’s situation will be different and people age differently. However, waiting too long can mean missing out on some of the very reasons people are attracted to a CCRC in the first place.
If you feel a CCRC may be right for you, here are a few things to consider:
While CCRCs provides lots of programs and amenities within the community, they are increasingly providing ways for residents to stay involved in the broader community through service projects, adult education classes, intergenerational programs and more. Moving earlier allows residents to more fully benefit from these “extra-curricular” activities.
CCRCs strive to help residents stay healthy and live independently as long as possible. Comprehensive health and wellness programs may include qualified fitness professionals, aquatic and fitness centers, low-impact aerobics, and yoga, just to name a few. Additionally, more CCRCs today are emphasizing a “whole-person” concept, including social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, and spiritual experiences.
Residents of life plan communities often say that one of the best things about the community is the friendships they have formed with other residents. Those who wait too long to make the move may not have the time to develop meaningful relationships, which can be particularly helpful as part of a support network if healthcare needs arise in the future. For many residents, the support of close friends and neighbors is invaluable if healthcare services are required.
Window of opportunity:
CCRC contracts generally require that residents must be able to live fully or mostly independently when they move in. Those who do not meet the community’s health criteria may miss the opportunity to benefit from what a CCRC offers, including access to a full continuum of care.
Moving gets more difficult with time. Those who are able-bodied and in good health can better handle the transition, often even embracing this new chapter in life. Alternatively, those who are frail often suffer from relocation stress syndrome (RSS), which can lead to other health problems.
So, when is the best time to move to a CCRC? The above factors and considerations must go into each person’s unique answer. But it may be wise to make the move while you able to fully enjoy and benefit from what the community offers.
About the Author: Brad Breeding is president and co-founder of myLifeSite.net, a company that develops web-based resources designed to help families make better-informed decisions when considering a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or position of this publication.