The Vista Blog

Talking to your grown children about your retirement decisions

Many grown children envision that day in the future where they’ll sit with their parents and give them “the talk” — that it’s time to move out of the house or make another major life change, often due to health or financial concerns.

But who made that rule? More and more, it’s the other way around: It’s the senior having the talk with their grown kids. Today we have a generation of technologically savvy 60+ year-olds who have, for all their lives, made their own decisions. So why would they stop when it comes time to consider moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

Inevitably, kids will have questions when presented with the idea that their parents are leaving their home behind. The first is obvious: “Do you really need this?” They see their parents as vibrant and healthy — “so why are you giving up your independence?”

The reality is far from that. These are “independent-living” communities, after all. Such questions, while normal, point to the fact that many people still don’t understand what a senior living community— and a CCRC, in particular — can offer an active older adult.

And there are many ways to respond.

“This puts me in control.”

In his landmark book, How to Say it to Seniors, author and older adult psychologist David Solie argues that, starting in their mid-60s, people are confronted with a loss of control, the realities of their future health, and begin considering their legacy. They’re beginning to experience loss — of friends, of careers, and more — that provided them with relationships and reverence their whole lives.

Making the decision to leave your home for a CCRC allows you to drive your decision and provide assurances for your future through the guarantee of independent, active living now and predictable, pre-paid costs for health-care services, should those needs arise later.

A study by the Institute on Aging covering 5,000 CCRC residents across 29 states found the vast majority said moving to the community improved their social wellness. They reported higher life satisfaction, a better mood, more positive perceptions of aging, less stress and depression, and more control over their lives.

“This gives us all assurances for the future.”

Older adults are often encouraged to decide their future living plans before the decision is made for them through a health issue — at which point, there’s no option for independent living or predictable costs.

The extensive life-care agreements offered at a CCRC like The Vista covers the entire continuum of care and allows residents to access higher levels of health-care, such as assisted living, skilled nursing, or memory care, without having to move to a different community or pay a higher monthly fee.

Depending on the specific financial agreement, some or all of these services may be guaranteed with an initial entrance fee (the majority of which is often refundable) and stable monthly fee, providing predictable future costs for residents. A health checkup is required to enter a CCRC and access the predictable fees.

Of course, there are calculations to crunch in terms of aging in place at home and risking unknown health-care costs versus predictable CCRC fees. Be sure to talk to your financial planner or accountant, but understand these contracts can be a critical part of estate and legacy planning.

“These communities are not what you may think.”

Independent-living communities look less like a health-care environment and are more like a resort or apartment neighborhood. They offer multiple dining venues (formal, casual, and grab-and-go settings), wellness and fitness facilities, and activities and amenities galore. Event calendars are often so packed that residents will tell you it is impossible to do everything offered in a single day.

Residents also find their independence is even greater than the life they were living before, especially when you consider the maintenance-free living: no more lawn care, tending to HVAC, or even changing lightbulbs (unless you care to!).

“This gives me more connections.”

Traditional neighborhoods evolve over time: Older residents move out, younger homeowners come in. Longtime homeowners soon find they don’t have the same neighbors as they did 30 years ago, and don’t have as many peers of a similar age to socialize with. Independent-living communities provide those connections and new relationships.

Finally, for the adult child, there are questions they can ask, too.

“Can I meet the leaders?”

A healthy community should always welcome the opportunity to answer questions and address concerns. Take time to understand the track record of the community, tenure of leaders, and how finances and admissions are managed in order to ensure long-term stability (and the assurance your parent or parents won’t ever have to move).

“Can we arrange for a stay?”

At the moment, the rules are different with COVID-19, but in normal times most communities (ours included) will greet you with open arms for a few nights’ stay and meals to get a feel for the space and lifestyle.

“How do they keep residents safe?”

CCRCs and other senior-living communities have had to implement significant precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19. While some restrictions will be lifted post-pandemic, many communities are implementing permanent health, safety, and visitation protocols to keep every resident and staff member safe in the future.

If your children have questions about your decision to move to a CCRC, we’re here to help. Contact our team at (201) 848-4200.

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