By: David Ratchford, President & CEO of Spectrum Consultants, Inc.
During my 38 years in the senior living industry, I have talked with thousands of individuals and couples who are considering moving to a community, and the #1 initial response is still the same: "I'm not ready yet." Interestingly, or perhaps ironically, the #1 comment from people AFTER a move is: "I wish I had moved much sooner." In fact, as is documented by our consumer, most people say they wished they had moved five years earlier. So, what do people know after the move that they did not know earlier in the process? What causes this dis-connect regarding the timing of a move?
For approximately 35 years, the senior living industry has used the term "Continuing Care Retirement Community" or "CCRC" to describe itself, which has given the marketplace a misleading impression of what communities actually are.
For the sake of describing the type of community you may consider moving to one day, let's update the paradigm from a "retirement community" to a "Life Plan Community" that enriches and enhances your way of life. These communities allow "planning" and "lifestyle" to merge. Listed below are some benefits / advantages of moving to the right community sooner, rather than later:
- Moving while you are active and healthy – to enjoy the array of amenities and events
- Choosing the community that best matches the way you want to live
- Having a “plan” in place will give you peace of mind
- Gaining an even more enriched social life, companionship, and healthy lifestyle
- Freedom from home and yard maintenance
- Enjoying the culinary delights (variety of dining venues and options)
- Financial predictability, safety, and security
- Security provided by the availability of on-site healthcare, should it ever be needed
Of course, the first step is researching the options and creating a plan. There are many options available to support aging well. I recommend the following:
- Visit multiple communities
- Spend time with a professional counselor at the community discussing options (I suggest visiting as long as two hours on the initial visit)
- Dine with members who live in the community
- Participate in life at the community (visit in the residences, sit in on a lifelong learning class, take a stretching class, try the arts room, take a walk on the trails or use the fitness center)
- Talk with the CFO about the financial stability of the community
- Learn about the community’s continuum of healthcare available on-site
- Learn about the leadership’s vision and long-range plan about the future. (You will be living there a long time and will want to know what the community’s future plans.)
Go ahead, tweak your thinking.Try shifting your paradigm. Do your homework and develop your own plan. You may be surprised what you learn in the process! Enjoy the journey.