A Call For Community: Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) Demand Flourishes
The time has come for a change. Regardless of how independent and physically capable someone is, the task of caring for a family-size home can become a bit overwhelming for an older adult who no longer needs all that living space. If you're looking to find a place where you or your loved ones can relax and enjoy the fruits of their many years of labor without the hassles of everyday home maintenance, then consider the Continuing Care
retirement community (CCRC) senior living option.
The Continuing Care
retirement community is for active people who are always thinking ahead, says Dan Rexford, executive vice president of Erickson Retirement Communities, a development/management company based in Baltimore County, Maryland
, which currently runs 18 CCRC campuses in the United States. "From an age perspective, residents at a continuing care retirement community tend to be in their early 70s, and one of the most important things to them is to stay near their families. This makes them less interested in moving to the more stereotypical retirement areas, such as Florida
Finding a Balance: Benefits vs. Costs
Senior housing options in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) typically range from large and small apartments to cottages and cluster homes, and due to the needs of the population, they are conveniently located throughout the country. Aside from being close to home, the continuing care retirement community offers its residents a vast array of amenities and resources.
For example, at each continuing care retirement community managed by Erickson, residents have access to a health club, swimming pool and hot tub, an auditorium for movies and productions, a large conference center, a medical and dental suite with on-site physicians, a dedicated worship center, bank, convenient store, beauty salon, and at least two restaurants. College classes are even available to those who wish to take them.
While most of continuing care retirement communities are geared toward the highest earning 10 percent of the population, Erickson Communities has worked hard to make the CCRC a more cost-effective senior living option.
"The costs vary depending on the area, but the main idea is that adults won't pay more to live here than they're already spending to live in their own homes," says Rexford. "The way it typically works is a resident sells his/her house and exchanges it for the entrance deposit. That money then comes back to residents in full if they decide to leave the community at any time, or else it goes to their heir(s)."
Monthly fees may also apply, but, says Rexford, such costs rarely exceed the budget of the average middle-class retiree.
Pampered Living for Proactive People
"The unique thing about a CCRC is the people living here create the lifestyle and sense of community," says Rexford. "We provide the facilities and services, and sometimes we help with the logistics, but they're the ones making the decisions."
Rexford says the CCRC is very similar to a college campus in this sense, which is one of the primary distinguishing factors between a continuing care retirement community and an Assisted Living
community. "In Assisted Living
, the people are not setting the agenda for the campus," he explains. "The people have a higher level of need so the staff tend to set the programs and agenda, whereas in a CCRC, 90 percent of the residents are independent and therefore capable of determining the campus lifestyle."
Tom Foster, a 75-year-old former deputy superintendent of the Baltimore City Schools as well as a Civil War re-enactor and college instructor, has made his home at the Oak Crest
continuing care retirement community (Parkville, MD) for over 11 years with his wife, a retired nurse. "We had a five-bedroom house and moved here in 1995 after my mother died and my three children married or moved into their own homes," he shares. Seeing no point in two people maintaining and living in a house that size, Tom says they began looking into retirement communities.
provides Independent Living
, assisted living, and constant care on campus. We moved to this continuing care retirement community for that reason and also because the deposit was 100 percent refundable to us or our estate in case of our moving away or our deaths," he says. He also cites the large campus size and numerous amenities as a significant deciding factor.
"There are more than 150 resident-run continuing care retirement community clubs here, and my wife and I have won several awards for initiating activities and volunteering," says Tom. "I started a project called Person-to-Person, which lists residents who are willing to help others with tasks such as balancing checkbooks, feeding and walking pets, delivering meals and altering clothes, among other things."
One misconception about those who live in retirement communities is that they are no longer able to give back to society, but the continuing care retirement community is changing the way people perceive retirees.
"Not only are they very interested in the well being of younger generations and in making a difference, but they actually do help," Rexford says, referring to an educational program started by community residents called Bridging Generations. "With a unique combination of talent, experience, and time, they are able to do a great deal for those around them."
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