One of the things that I love to do during the Passover and Easter holidays is to catch up with old friends that I haven’t seen in awhile.
One dear friend and I were getting nostalgic about my visits with him and his family during Passover in their small Brooklyn apartment when we were younger. I remember those days fondly, and how his parents welcomed me into their modest home for gefilte fish and other goodies. (Please, don’t even bring up the current gefilte shortage!)
I asked about his parents.
“My parents are doing better than me,” he told me. “I can’t reach them. They’re always out and about. They’re enjoying the best years of their lives!”
“Are they still in Brooklyn?”
“Are you kidding me? They’ve been in a retirement community in Jersey for about a decade now. I’ve never seen them so happy.”
After feeling guilt (always a good feeling to have during the holidays) about being unaware of this for so long, I told him that I was glad to hear about their good fortune.
For many seniors and retirees, the move to a retirement community can be a wonderful and rewarding experience for their later years. But my friend, Brad Breeding, president of LifeSite Logics, which is a company that helps people find the right retirement community, says that planning for the future should include an understanding of the retirement-living possibilities available to retirees.
I’ve written about Brad’s advice on choosing a retirement community for you or a loved one on this site in the past. Brad just came out with a book that details the aspects necessary to research and plan for retirement living in the future. His book is called “What’s the Deal with Retirement Communities?” and it covers the questions that Brad has encountered in this field, which range from understanding the different types of retirement-community choices to how to pay for them.
The section of the book that jumped out at me as required reading focused on the ways to “pull the curtains back” on how a particular retirement community operates, and what specifics consumers should look at when considering various options.
When my friend discussed how his parents had done their due diligence in choosing their retirement community, he pointed out that it was not only an investment on his parents’ part—he wanted to ensure that the owners of the community were making an investment in them as well. They all felt that making such an important decision required a long-term commitment from both parties—the retirees and those running the community.
Brad echoes this point when he states that, “When someone choose to move to a Full Service Retirement Community, they are placing their trust in the community to provide housing and health care for the rest of their life. Likewise, the community is making a significant commitment to the resident to provide such housing and care.”
Brad’s book makes it clear that very few Continuing Care Retirement Communities actually experience bankruptcies. However, you can imagine the disruption and potential financial disaster that a bankruptcy could cause to a senior or retiree who has made a financial and living commitment to such a community.
That’s why I found Brad’s book compelling in its discussion of how families can gain a level of confidence in the financial well-being of a community by looking at various specifics.
- Evaluating the qualitative aspects of a community, including the experience of the management and board of directors, their accreditation, their debt rating and even the size of their waiting list.
- Looking at quantitative factors such as the communities’ financial ratios, occupancy levels and their ratio of independent to health-care residents.
- Understanding the state-level regulation that the community must adhere to—some states have no regulatory structure in place!
- Asking: What access to health care does the community provide? For Medicare-certified communities, you can check their CMS rating at Medicare.gov. You can also dig into records for complaints about the community.
- Canvassing the residents. Brad writes that often the best thing to do when evaluating a community for a loved one is to observe and speak with those who are living there and gain a level of comfort that this is the right fit for them.
There are many considerations that someone needs to make when choosing a retirement community for themselves or a loved one. Brad’s book covers many of them and is a good starting point for those beginning the process of choosing a retirement community.
Making the right decision will make a world of difference as it did for my friend’s parents. (Happy Passover, Geri and Bert!) If only it could do something about this gefilte fish shortage!