The last few months we have been exploring various levels of retirement living — independent and assisted living and skilled nursing care. A continuing care retirement community is when all of these levels are found on one campus.
Many people like the idea of this type of setting. They become familiar with the community, build strong friendships and feel more comfortable if they have to make a change to another area of the campus to receive the care and services their health requires. Change is challenging, and it doesn’t get any easier as we age. Moving across campus might be just a little easier than moving across town.
If a senior community does not have all levels of care, a move across town might have to happen if health conditions change. If a senior is living independently now, and his or her needs change to where assisted living is needed, and this isn’t available in the community, a move would be necessary. I always tell families to keep that in mind as they are looking for senior communities that many times health situations change, and it is wise to be sure all levels of care are an option.
When wouldn’t a CCRC be the best choice? I think perhaps when a person needs a health-center setting. If a senior is able to live at home until he or she needs a skilled nursing setting, then in my opinion, a skilled nursing care only option may be a good choice.
For a senior who is considering downsizing and moving into an independent living option, and is still in relatively good health, I would recommend a continuing care retirement community. This option allows the senior to live independently for as long as possible, and if and when the need arises, the other levels of care are available on the same campus.
While the choices at times seem overwhelming, I think it is comforting to know there are so many more options available for seniors than ever before. Retirement living is perhaps one of the biggest decisions seniors and their families will make. Knowing and understanding the choices available is important.
Information provided by Shelly Charter, Valley View Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave., Des Moines, 265-2571.