Aging in Place: Friend or Foe?

In case you missed it the first time, here are some thoughts on “aging in place” at a CCRC:

The term “aging in place” became popular several years ago to describe a particular type of senior housing whereby residents were allowed to remain in their independent living apartments, even though they required higher levels of care.

The main benefit of aging in place is that you don’t have to move if you become sick. Your bedroom remains your bedroom. You don’t have to worry about moving to a smaller assisted living apartment. It is a huge benefit for seniors that might need to make several moves during the last years of their lives. Once they move into the community, their apartment becomes their home.

The main disadvantage of aging in place is that communities have trouble marketing units that turned over (in other words, the units vacated due to resident death). Aging in place is an attractive marketing technique for younger communities that attract younger residents, but it is very difficult for a community that has been open for several years to resell units to younger residents.

Imagine this: You go into a CCRC, and during the tour, you notice health care workers coming in and out of the rooms. In the hallway are seniors that would normally be in a nursing home. They are all sitting in wheelchairs, and most of them are asleep. Would you want to move in here?

When the independent living residents are mixed with the assisted living residents, it makes it hard for the community to sell units to younger seniors. If the community is known as being an aging in place community, then it is probably fine. Most Holiday Retirement Communities, Sunrise, Belmont, and Atria communities (which are not usually CCRC’s) are marketed for independent living and assisted living needs and allow residents to remain in their apartments as long as their needs do not become too acute.

But, if you are considering a CCRC that markets aging in place, make sure the community has some policies that help attract younger residents to fill vacated units. Otherwise, you run the risk that your estate might have a long delay in receiving the refund portion of your entrance fee (while the community tries to resell your unit).

In summary, there is no problem with aging in place. It is a fine idea, and it creates a lot of security for seniors that are worried about being bused from place to place as their needs progress. However, the policy can be detrimental to CCRC’s that are trying to maintain a young, vibrant resident population.