My wife and I are almost 70. We're still trying to figure out what we want to do in life. Or rather, the rest of our lives. I've written about our quandary in numerous blog posts, such as:
I'm 65. Where's my "aging hippie" retirement community?
Our retirement community conundrum continues
New York Post features us in story about hippie retirement communities
Why it makes sense for seniors to postpone living in a retirement community
At the moment we're still living in our non-easycare 3200 square foot, multi-level house on ten acres in rural south Salem, Oregon. We're thinking more seriously about moving into the city limits, but the right home has eluded us so far.
But in the course of doing so, I've become aware of a fatal flaw in these sorts of communities, which promise to take care of you as you get older and more decrepit, needing various levels of health care. The flaw is:
In order to move in to most continuing care retirement communities, you have to be pretty darn healthy.
Thus a couple like us, who have some health problems, but nothing that prevents us from doing what needs to be done in our daily routines, would be able to start living in such a community. However, if we waited until we needed the "continuing care" part of the community, probably we wouldn't be accepted.
This is very much like the pre-existing condition exclusion that used to be part of health insurance policies prior to the Affordable Care Act doing away with it. Insurance companies wouldn't cover you if you had a significant health problem. But you needed health insurance because you had the problem.
An article, "Fit for Move-In? The CCRC Health Evaluation Requirement," explains this well. Here's an excerpt:
If you are considering a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community), you may be aware that there are certain health requirements that you may have to meet in order to enter the community under a continuing care contract. Health assessments are mainly used by CCRCs offering a lifecare (Type A) residency contract, and to a lesser degree, a modified (Type B) contracts. They are not, and likely should not, be used by CCRCs offering a fee-for-service (Type C) contract.
To confirm that you meet the health requirements of a CCRC offering lifecare or modified contracts, you may be asked to complete a health questionnaire and/or undergo a medical exam. The community may also request a copy of your medical records from the previous two years.
Now, it makes sense that continuing care retirement communities don't want all or most of their residents to need assisted living, nursing services, memory care, or other health care above and beyond simply living in the community.
This is why it makes sense to require everybody to have health insurance, something the Republicans in Congress foolishly did away with recently, because if people are able to wait until they're seriously sick to buy health insurance, the companies that offer policies will have a large proportion of insured who need expensive medical care.
So continuing care retirement communities are wise to spread out their risk pool by requiring that people be basically healthy before they move in.
But this is a fatal flaw for people like us. (Well, not so fatal that we failed to put down a deposit in two communities; those deposits are almost totally refundable, though.)
Here my wife and i are, mostly enjoying our rural lifestyle. I'm healthy enough to use a DR Field Mower to cut high grass in parts of our ten acres. I'm still able to clean out our gutters by using a Stihl backpack blower and walking along the edge of the roof. My wife can handle weeds and pruning in our large yard, plus traverse the uneven steep trails on our property.
We don't want to move to a continuing care retirement community because we don't yet need what's offered there. Which is, almost everything home-maintenance wise, plus meals and transportation services.
But if one of us gets a medical or health problem that makes a continuing care retirement community look much more attractive, likely we wouldn't be accepted to move-in. So when we don't need the services of such a community, we'd be accepted, and when we do need the services, we'd be rejected.
Some people wouldn't be as bothered by this as we are, because they'd be fine with starting to live in a continuing care retirement community when they're healthy. For my wife and I, though, this is a problem. We don't like the idea of surrounding ourselves with other old people like ourselves, including many who have significant health problems.
Where we live now, there's a mix of young and old. That's appealing to us. Yet we recognize that one day we probably will need the sorts of services offered by a continuing care retirement community.
For now, we're leaning toward not moving into such a community, but rather getting those services in our own house, whether it be where we're living now, or a house in town.