So now we are being presented with another ‘innovative’ way to guarantee long term care for the millions of aging seniors. The senior living industry has over built assisted living and independent living units. A Wall Street Journal article last week even used the word glut. The acronym CCRC stands for Continuing Care Retirement Community. There are about 2000 CCRCs nationally with 745,000 residents. In general they have significant buy in fees (usually $200,000 and up and monthly fees $2000 to $4000 and up). These CCRCs contract with the individuals to provide the level of care as it is needed right up to nursing home and hospice care. But this is not selling so well so there is a new version of this, CCRCs without walls emerging .
I think it is dawning on the senior living industry as well as the real estate developers that they have over judged the desire and/or the financial ability of upcoming seniors to move out of their homes and afford their products. So there is a ‘middle muddle’ out there in the real estate people about building for the middle income prospects. Building more affordable units has yet to materialize. In other words not everyone can find the $400,000 to buy a luxury senior villa, or have the $200,000 plus from owned property to pay buy in fees fro CCRCs. All alternatives to living at home besides co-living and house sharing are expensive alternatives to staying at home.
One the surface with the CCRC without walls, there is a smaller price tag. But you start paying it ahead of actually needing any services. In fact, if you have dementia or Parkinson’s or any other progressive problem you are disqualified. If you need significant services after you sign up, they are to be provided. If you do not need them, you still pay your monthly fees (after a smaller buy in fee with a smaller monthly fee). The biggest item here is that those services are provided by check ins in your own home. It is not clear to what extend these services are in terms of helping you maintain your home and helping with other non medical services, shopping, food prep, banking and cleaning. They do add the prospect of social activities in the community
It is the beginning of a new effort by the senior living industry to keep their services out front. There are only 32 CCRCs without walls at this time. Time will tell if this alternative will work. To me it adds up primarily for the CCRC. They get fees longer in preparation for needing to provide more complex services later on. By contrast you get obtain in home services as you need them, maybe some paid some volunteer, you could join a village to village network or other social group through senior centers or faith based groups to stay connected. Plus in home tech is able to provide a certain safety net of its own.
It partly comes down to how lucky you are feeling about the prospect of being able to manage much longer on your own. People deal differently with this prospect of uncertainty. I believe a national long care term insurance is on its way in the next few years because it has to be. In the meantime you can roll the dice or place your bets as you so desire.