Happily Ever After…

In our country people aged 65 and older comprise about 13% of the population. By 2030 this percentage is expected to grow to 19%. Translating these numbers into a realistic assessment of the future means that we need a blueprint for retirement that won’t deplete our finances or burden our families. Planning before a crisis maximizes choices for both ourselves and for those we love. Carmel, fortunately, is a great place to live long and prosper. Here are some options to consider when exploring arrangements for seniors in our area.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers levels of care for those who are able to live independently now, with peace of mind should needs arise in the future. The Barrington of Carmel is an example of a CCRC. According to Jana Faultless, Vice President of Community Relations at the Barrington, there are four separate areas for residents; Independent Living for those who want to buy into a lifestyle filled with amenities; Assisted Living for those needing help with health issues; a Memory Center for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s; and Skilled Nursing for those who require medical care. By investing in a community of this nature, Jana listed four financial as well as personal benefits:

  • Ability to control costs through contractual guarantees
  • Estate preservation through resaleof initial investment
  • Tax benefits
  • Never being asked to leave

Since The Barrington is a Life Care community, costs are guaranteed to remain much the same throughout the lifetime of its residents, whether they live independently or in a skilled area.

An Assisted Living facility can also accommodate individuals who are currently independent. Lori Weaver, Executive Director at CrownPointe Communities, says that many of their residents are still driving. To determine if someone needs more help, Lori typically asks a few questions, such as:

  • How do you spend your mornings, i.e., is it difficult to prepare for the day?
  • Are you enjoying your social life, i.e., are there feelings of isolation or loneliness?
  • Do you feel safe by yourself, i.e., is mobility compromised?
  • How do you feel about maintaining your environment?
  • Are you able to self-medicate?
  • Is transportation an issue?

By engaging in this kind of discussion, Lori feels it is easier to determine what level of care is appropriate.

Vickie Greenough, Director of Community Engagement at The Rehabilitation Suites and The Terrace at Carmel Health & Living, says the average amount of time currently spent in an independent and/or assisted living community is 2-3 years, and in a retirement home 12-15 months, all the more reason to carefully research the facility being considered. Vickie recommends a personal visit so you can obtain the following information:

  • How were you greeted upon arrival at the community?
  • Is the building well-maintained and “homey”?
  • Is it licensed with an LPN/RN on site 24/7?
  • What is the staffing ratio of caregivers to residents and is there high turnover?
  • If you have time, stay for a meal so you can sample the menu and interact with residents.
  • Try to visit the community at different times so you can observe various situations.
  • Does the community provide opportunity to travel to outside events as well as transportation?

While the transition to a retirementcommunity can be fraught with challenges, its uncertainties can be greatly reduced if options are thoroughly reviewed. With so many attractive choices available in our area, Carmel seniors should be able to enjoy security, safety and active independence while still living close to family and friends.