The idea of an old folk’s home has negative connotations. It implies that old people need to be put away.
In my Wisconsin farm family in the mid-1950’s, it was seen more negatively, as a place for poor old people. Dad told us if we kept up our spending practices, we would end up in the “poorhouse.” The poorhouse was a government run house or farm where the old and indigent who had no one to care for them ended up. The house was usually a dilapidated old farmhouse with a dirt driveway, overgrown weedy lawn, peeling-paint shutters hanging forlornly at windows, and old people in their rocking chairs on the front porch. I determined this would not be my fate. I mended my spending practices. I had some luck. I was able to plan and pay for my retirement.
Retirement living has changed for the better. Ads for continuing care retirement communities often show healthy, beautiful seniors enjoying wellness and fitness centers, swimming, golf, entertainment and beautiful apartments with full kitchens so residents who want to cook can comfortably do so. The new old folks’ homes are costly and vastly different from the poorhouse. A resident pays an entry fee which may be as much as a small home or even more. According to CBRE Group, a U.S. commercial real estate firm, the average CCRC entrance fee is $329,000 (“Continuing Care Retirement Communities | What is a CCRC? – SeniorLiving.org”). The entrance fee does not give ownership. The entrance fee and monthly fees guarantee housing and medical services. Monthly fees support amenities like housekeeping and meals and range from $3-5,000. A small percentage of my monthly services is deductible, and I get an IRS letter from the retirement community for that amount each year. Continuing care retirement communities have independent living which is for healthy and active seniors. Assisted living is for those who need help with daily activities. Memory care is assisted living with controlled access usually housing those diagnosed with dementia. A healthcare facility can vary in focus but provides medical services. The monthly fees increase as needs change.
New independent living apartments were being built in a lovely community ten minutes from downtown Columbus. I wanted to stay close to museums, theaters, and cultural events downtown. The contract was complex, and I needed services of a lawyer and financial advisor. I had choices of space and floor levels which determined entrance costs. Since I would not own the property, I kicked into my frugal farmgirl gear and figured out how much space I needed and chose the second smallest unit. That lowered the entrance fee and the monthly dues for meals and services. However, I wanted the top floor which was more expensive, and I wanted to buy smaller furniture which would better fit the space. I was not entirely frugal, but I would not go to the poorhouse.
As the independent living apartments were being built, I could link my computer to a camera which gave me a daily photo of progress. A sense of great anticipation took over. I got together for social events with other new move-ins. I was so happy to see a friend from graduate school at The Ohio State University who was moving in with her husband. I paid my entrance fee and signed up.
I always hated moving and grumbled, “Next time, Shady Rest.” I meant my last move to a retirement home. In July 2021 I finally arrived at “Shady Rest.”
Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community right for you?