My husband and I are very lucky to live in a senior community where long-term health care is promised as a part of our rent and entry fee. (Such communities are called “Life Plan Communities” or “Continuing Care Retirement Communities.”) Our monthly cottage rent includes our apartment, a meal a day, fitness programs and the shared cost of our personal and skilled care health center, which adds a hefty $1500/month/person. The payoff comes when we need the support of the fulltime care available in the health center; we have priority access to our 5-star facility at no increase in rent.
The boundary between “independent” living and life in the health center is not clear, except that government regulations require more stringent inspections, staffing and regulations than for those of us living “outside” the health center. Movement from independent living to the health center is essentially voluntary. Thus, independent living includes residents over 100 years old who are cognitively capable of independence, as well as a few 75 year olds who can barely find their way home after dinner. Life with the cognitively challenged health center residents is funny and, frustrating. For example, how do you explain the need to wear masks to those who can’t remember their name? Or how about the story of a resident who kept the proceeds from a craft sale under his mattress, while $4000 worth of checks became worthless with the passage of time.
Our Community is well described, and well promoted in its short videos of residents and resident life. If you’re interested, check out the KCC Videos found here.
We ARE lucky. Life in a senior community is also a constant reminder of the fragility of the aged, the impermanence of us all, and the positive impact upon our vitality of our continued engagement with the world and one another.