The article provides not so much a critique on CCRCs (continuing care residential community) but things to consider when researching them, determining if they are the right option for you (or your loved ones) and how to go about selecting one.
The same WSJ Sunday has another article (from their sister magazine SmartMoney) titled Picking a Nursing Home which gives some good advice on finding and evaluating nursing homes.
We have many options on where to live as we age - right? (I'm not talking geography)
Well, sort of but not really. The big four include:
- Stay in your house/condo/apartment and as your needs increase bring in hourly help for meal preparation, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship, etc.
- Assisted Living
- Nursing Homes
While I am a huge proponent of aging in place (at home) I am aware that this option may not be for everyone - by their choice or otherwise - e.g., it is not a realistic option when your caregiving needs become too much for one or even two people to manage (the final stages of Alzheimer's).
One problem I have with the senior care marketplace is how representatives from each housing option seem to market their products as if their option (i.e., assisted living) should be the ONLY option you consider.
Selecting a "place" to age is complex. So many factors go into it - personalities, physical and mental health needs, family dynamics, money, etc. And people usually transition from one option to another. They start out at home, move to assisted living and then maybe to a nursing home. Making these "where to live" choices requires a lot of thought, preparation and research and unfortunately a lot of families don't put enough effort into it - or are unable to.
This is why I see a growth in truly "independent" services that educate families and individuals on the various senior housing options and guide them through the evaluation and selection. A buyer broker if you will that has no ties to any particular option nor takes placement fees or commissions from chosen options.
The closest we have to this type of service today for the masses are employee benefits like work-life or EAPs but most individuals in the country do not have access to such services. Another option is geriatric care managers (probably the best option) but they are expensive (up to $100 an hour) and not everyone can afford them. Then you have the Administration on Aging which is wonderful but like many government agencies providing support to the public it is understaffed and quality of support is inconsistent.
Maybe a solution is a type of supplemental insurance product geared toward evaluating and selecting caregiving options as we age.
I don't know but I do know there is a huge business opportunity for anyone who can figure it out.Now if we can just pay for it once we do make the decision - but that's another topic.