Seven Myths About Retirement Communities

By Nancy Nolan, Director of Marketing & PR (ret.)

Foulkeways at Gwynedd

Gwynedd, PA 19436

edited 4/2/20

1. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are for the old and frail.

The hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear people asking their 65 year old friends, with some degree of incredulousness, "Why are you looking at retirement communities?"

These uninformed individuals are obviously confusing THEIR mental image of the 'Nursing Home' where their parents or grandparents spent the last years of their lives, with the reality of a modern day Retirement Community. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are NOT Nursing Homes. Rocking chairs and sleeping seniors, lined up in hallway rows, is NOT what modern retirement communities boast; rather, their slogans should be, "Can you keep up?" or "Enter at your own risk, our daily pace is brisk!"

2. I'm too young to move into a Retirement Community.

Really? Most retirement communities require you to be 62-65 to enter. The last thing you want to do is wait until you're in your 80's to move. You need to still be active and engaged to enter into a new community and go through the hassle of downsizing a dwelling you may have lived in for decades. You need to be in top shape mentally and physically to make new friends, explore new experiences and renew old passions. Whether you're looking to learn French, find a new tennis partner or explore the hiking and biking trails around your new home, don't wait too long. Sedentary lifestyles are not for the 'young at heart.' (See Don't Wait Too Long to Find a Retirement Community)

3. Active Adult Communities and 55+ Communities are the place for active seniors to move.

In fact, the average age at move-in at 55+ communities is 75! Sure you can be active there, but what happens when you need health care? Now you're looking at a scenario where you or your adult children are desperately looking for a facility for you to rehab, or a community that provides the assisted living or skilled nursing care you suddenly find you need. You are no longer in a proactive role. You are forced to find immediate care, which could mean a facility that is no one's first choice is the only one offering a vacancy.

4. I'll stay in my home, and when the time comes, I'll get 'in-home' help.

Good Luck with that!

Do you have subcontractors, handymen, gardeners, housekeepers, home-shoppers, meal preparers, transportation specialists, companions, medical providers and 'others,' lined up and waiting in the wings for your call? NO? Well then, let's have a discussion about how many different skill sets you'll be needing as you become more frail. You are being unrealistic if you think that one of those 'HomeCare for Mom/Dad' organizations has employees sitting around just waiting to be called into service possessing just the skill sets you need; no more and no less.

More than likely when you place that call, you will be told that only 'three out of the six skills you request are currently available.' So now, tell me again, how you can stay in your home with the help of a HomeCare Agency? Maybe you can contact two or three additional agencies, and together they can supply you with the skill sets you need. (If you're really good at negotiating, would you mind calling Home Depot for me and helping me schedule a Washer/Dryer installation I've been waiting weeks to book?)

5. I'm hoping to die in my sleep, so why spend money when I don't have to?

Only one percent (1%) of the total population in the US will die "in their sleep." The rest of us will spend between 5-7 years of our lives in a combination of Personal Care/Assisted Nursing and Skilled Nursing Care.

Given today's pricing of $79,200 per year for Assisted Living, plus additions for 'fee for service' items, or $120,633 per year for Skilled Nursing Care, doesn't it make sense to contract with a retirement community who will provide these same services at a much more palatable rate?

6.  If I move to a retirement community I won't have any money left to leave my children.

If you move into a retirement community you will be leaving your children the greatest gift you can give them; peace of mind! Talk to the grown children of friends who are already happily ensconced in retirement living and they will support what I have just said; knowing that Mom or Dad or both are enjoying their days, have easy access to medical care and are surrounded by new friends and neighbors is 'priceless,' and removes the burden of care from their shoulders.

7. Choose a retirement community based on the lowest monthly fees! All communities offer the same monthly 'package.'

The lowest monthly fee is NOT always the best buy for the money; retirement communities fall into three categories; LifeCare contracts, Fee for Service contracts and modified contracts.

You may find that the lowest monthly fee provides NO EXTRAS, such as food or medical care; instead you will be charged 'extra' for all the services you utilize. Some communities pay for your utilities and taxes, other require you to pay for them directly. Find out what is included in the monthly fee at every community you explore. Be sure you are comparing 'apples to apples' and you may find that LifeCare contracts often prove to be the best buy.


See Accessing Important Information About a Retirement Community (CCRC)

also, Don't Wait Too Long to Find a Retirement Community

Additional Sources of Information About Retirement Communities

About Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Expanding the World of Possibilities for Aging

U.S. News
How to evaluate retirement communities

Wall Street Journal
Searching for Security
How to tell whether a continuing-care community will be able to keep its financial promises