As a society, one of the most cherished freedoms we have cultivated over the past century is the freedom to choose how and where we will live in our retirement years. Since 1900, the number of Life Plan Communities (also known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs) in the U.S. has increased from a handful to more than 2,000 today — with more to come! However, many people still have a limited understanding of the basic attributes and benefits of Life Plan Communities and CCRCs.
As a result, a lack of understanding might make it easier to just stay where you are — what is commonly called “aging in place.” Although aging in place may make good sense for some seniors, it also has its challenges. It is important to understand what a Life Plan Community offers by comparison. Being well informed will make the work of retirement planning a lot simpler, and more fun, for you and your loved ones.
Common Risks of Aging In Place
Aging in one’s own home provides seniors with many benefits, particularly the comfort of the familiar. But as needs change, there are some clear disadvantages. Here are some of the most common risks seniors and their loved ones need to be aware of in order to ensure safe and healthy living.
The Burden of Homeownership
Yardwork, shoveling snow, even fixing a leaky faucet can frustrate most people. But for seniors, taking care of a home can become next to impossible. In addition to paying utility bills, the physical challenges of housekeeping and frequent maintenance projects can become overwhelming. Bringing in outside help can provide relief, but the costs can be daunting, particularly if maintenance projects have been delayed or overlooked for several years.
Lack of Skilled Care
Being a family caregiver is often an involuntary role adult children take on out of necessity. Besides not having the proper skills and training, it’s easy to lose objectivity when caring for one’s relative. Although hiring professional caregivers to come into the home on a regular basis can alleviate much of this burden, the costs can add up quickly.
In addition to isolation, especially during the pandemic, many seniors lose the ability to drive as they age, requiring them to rely on family, friends or paid transportation providers. Not wanting to be a burden to others creates a greater likelihood of isolation and fewer opportunities for socializing. At the same time, friends may have moved, passed on or are unable to visit. With reduced opportunities to see friends, eat out or simply go grocery shopping, seniors aging at home may face challenges with isolation, loneliness and even malnutrition.
Slips and Falls
Falls are one of the major causes of injuries among seniors. Slips and falls occur because of poor bone health, low metabolism and decreased brain health. The greatest danger when a fall occurs is the inability of a senior to get immediate help, or even reach a phone, if they live alone.
Life Plan Communities – An Essential Vocabulary
Continuum of Care: Life Plan Communities, like Generations at Shalom Park, offer a continuum of care to residents, meaning residents have access to Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing if and when the need arises. Most Life Plan Communities promise you will never have to move out or leave the community to receive healthcare, other than critical or emergency hospital care. Residents are assured that all current and future healthcare needs are met.
Independent Living means just that. You live independently in your choice of an on-campus home, cottage or apartment. Although you may not require assistance with regular activities, you have the assurance of knowing help is there, when and if it’s needed. Independent residents reap the benefits of the unlimited social, cultural, physical and spiritual amenities on the campus of a Life Plan Community. Many people don’t move into a community early enough to enjoy all that Independent Living has to offer. Those that make the move sooner rather than later are able to enjoy the benefits for years before needing higher levels of care.
Assisted Living provides assistance for what is called the “Activities of Daily Living.” ADLs include bathing, dressing, eating and more. Staff is trained to help determine the amount of Assisted Living care a resident may need. Assisted Living in a Life Plan Community is warm, supportive and offers seniors a variety of residential and recreational options.
Memory Care provides a secure, physically safe, and emotionally and socially supportive environment to residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Memory Care offers very low resident-to-caregiver ratios. The mental, physical and social well-being of each resident is of paramount consideration in Memory Care.
Skilled Nursing in a Life Plan Community provides both short- and long-term rehabilitation and medical care. Staff members are trained medical professionals, including licensed nurses, doctors, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Whenever possible, Skilled Nursing caregivers strive to help their residents return to their homes in Independent or Assisted living. In some communities, rehabilitation services may be offered in a separate setting from Skilled Nursing.
The Benefits of Choosing a Life Plan Community
Life Plan Communities (also known as CCRCs) are dedicated to providing two overarching benefits — security and choice. A continuum of care on one campus provides the security that your healthcare needs will be met no matter what. Choice is what sets Life Plan Communities apart, making them often incomparable among retirement offerings. From selecting your residence to discovering social, spiritual, physical and cultural venues, the choices are practically endless. Life Plan Communities provide much more than quality healthcare. They dedicate themselves to the total well-being and fulfillment of their residents, along with peace of mind that they will be cared for no matter when their needs change.
Generations at Shalom Park Is Coming Soon!
Generations at Shalom Park has collaborated with Aldersgate Life Plan Services, a renowned senior living provider in the Charlotte region, on the construction of 125 new Independent Living residences unlike any other in the Charlotte area. Coming to SouthPark in 2024, Generations at Shalom Park is a new vision in active Independent Living that is Jewish in spirit, making it open to all. To learn more, call 704-532-5400 or get a closer look at generationsatshalompark.com.