55-plus or CCRC: What’s your best next move?

55+ Communities in PA vs CCRCs – The best time to move into Continuing Care Retirement Community

Maybe the kids have grown and gone and you feel like you have more space than you need. Maybe you’re just tired of all the upkeep. Maybe you want to live among folks your own age. Maybe all of the above are true for you. Whatever the reason, you’re starting to think about your next move.

What are your options for retirement living?

Many empty nesters find themselves trying to decide whether to move to a 55-plus community or a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). To make the best choice for you, it’s important to understand what each of these two types of senior communities are. Do a little digging, and you’ll find significant differences.

What 55-plus living offers is a community of adults over age 55. The developments are run by a homeowner’s association, which takes care of maintaining outdoor and common areas. Many communities have a clubhouse or meeting room where residents can organize activities.

“A 55-plus community may be a good choice if all you’re looking for is a quiet neighborhood where you don’t have to cut the grass or shovel snow—but it may not offer everything you want or need now or in the future,” says Dawn Lytle, Director of Sales and Marketing for Simpson at Jenner’s Pond in southern Chester County, PA.

What does a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offer?

Some people choose 55-plus living because they don’t think they are old enough for a continuing care retirement community. In fact, you only need to be 60 to move to most CCRCs in Pennsylvania.

“Most of the new residents moving into our cottages are in their late 60s or early 70s and new residents moving into our apartments are in their late 70s or early 80s, on average,” Lytle says.

A CCRC offers a much broader range of services and amenities than you’ll find with 55-plus living. For one, life in a CCRC is truly maintenance free. Not only does the community provide services like lawn care, snow removal and exterior maintenance, but it takes care of maintenance and repairs inside your cottage or apartment as well. No more trying to find trusted contractors—the maintenance team will take care of it. Don’t feel like cooking all the time? CCRCs like Jenner’s Pond offer a variety of dining options, from light fare to fine dining, and flexible meal plans.

Wondering what to do now that you don’t have to spend weekends on home upkeep? Move to a CCRC and you could probably have something on your calendar every day—and someone to do it with. The community organizes activities and events on- and off-site, from fitness, art and computer classes and lifelong learning programs to day trips for shopping, sightseeing or taking in a show in Philadelphia or Lancaster. Residents form clubs based on their interests and organize activities as well. Jenner’s Pond has its own library, computer center, theater, woodshop and game room, and residents receive a YMCA membership. If the outdoors calls you, you’ll find walking trails, a dog park, rose garden and raised garden beds on-site.

“At places like Jenner’s Pond, residents enjoy a strong sense of community,” says Lytle. “With so many people and so many shared interests, you make the kind of social connections that ‘add life to your years’ and keep you engaged and active.”

You’ll never have to move again

As an independent living resident, you may not need to take advantage of all the services that a CCRC offers, but you may be happy to know they’re available as you get older and your needs change. CCRCs generally offer transportation for grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments, as well as the convenience of amenities like a gift shop, hair salon on site and the safety and security of a call system in each cottage and apartment.

Benefits of CCRCs vs. Pennsylvania 55+ Senior Living Communities

Access to healthcare services can become increasingly important as we age. That’s where the “continuing care” in CCRC comes in. Unlike 55-plus communities, CCRCs offer a full continuum of healthcare services, from physical and occupational therapy and on-site wellness services to assisted living to comprehensive skilled nursing.

“Some of our residents who have moved from 55-plus communities tell us that when they went to the 55-plus community they didn’t realize that they would need to move again when they needed healthcare services,” says Lytle. “For several reasons, it’s easier to make that move before you have a serious health issue.”

At Jenner’s Pond, moving from independent living to a higher level of care is a group decision made by the resident, the resident’s family and healthcare provider, The Executive Director, the Director of Health Services and the home care team. Residents are guaranteed a spot in the Health Care Center if they need it. If a spot isn’t immediately available, the community provides additional home care services with Jenner’s Pond Home Care until the transition is possible—and tries to use the same home care team during the transition, so the resident is surrounded by familiar faces.

Individuals who want to move to a CCRC when they already require assisted living, memory care or nursing services face several disadvantages:

  • They may have to wait longer for availability
  • They may not be able to get into their community of first choice
  • They may have to arrange their own home care in the interim

All the right moves

“Moving to independent living at a CCRC while you’re still active gives you more options—plus, you get to take advantage of all the community’s amenities and activities while you can still enjoy them,” Lytle says. “It saves you the hassle of having to move twice, and of making a second move at a stressful time.”

A CCRC provides a supportive network of professionals and neighbors; a tremendous range of opportunities to nourish mind, body and spirit; truly maintenance-free living; and something that has no price tag: peace of mind for you and your family, knowing that everything you need, even as your needs change, is right here.

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