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Volunteers December 15, 2014

Mom and Dad are considering a retirement village. What should they look for?

Your parents just told you that they’re considering moving to a retirement village. What does this mean? The truth is, it can mean a lot of different things, depending on the facility that they are choosing.

Typically, when seniors talk about moving to a retirement village, they are talking about a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC. CCRCs have many benefits for seniors. Typically, a CCRC offers a wide range of services, guaranteed, all within one retirement village, including a full continuum of care from independent living to skilled nursing and palliative care for end of life. Of course, this kind of care and convenience can come with a large price tag.

Depending upon the program that your parents choose, there can be a substantial entrance fee that may or may not be refundable to their estate after they die. In addition to the entrance fee, there is usually a monthly service fee that covers anticipated health care needs as your parents age. Some CCRCs also offer Life Care plans for an additional cost that are similar to long-term care insurance plans.

One alternative to the traditional CCRC retirement village is a rental-based community. These communities do not typically have large entrance fees, but rather an affordable monthly rent, plus service fees that cover services like meals, housekeeping and personal care, as needed.

While comparing the costs of a retirement village or community vs. staying at home should certainly be high on your loved ones’ list of things to look for in their search, there are many other items you and your parents should be looking at as you begin to visit the various communities that are of interest.

One of the most important, after the quality of care, is the interaction of the residents and the staff. The way that residents are treated is critical to their continued happiness and safety as they age. After touring the independent living areas of the community, be sure to visit the assisted living and skilled care areas to see if:

  • Residents have access to privacy if they need it
  • The residents seem happy and comfortable
  • The staff seems happy and engaged in their work (not just going through the motions)
  • The environment is home-like and loving

And, before you and your parents go – take the time to really consider what kinds of things are important to your family. Having an itemized list in hand can go a long way to ensuring that you and your parents can compare the various settings in a useful way, and will be prepared to make an objective decision.


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