In the first installment of this three-part story, I introduced my mother who is looking to move from her house into a senior living community. After making it clear to me that she only wants to move into a place that offers all levels of care, in other words, a CCRC or Life Plan Community, she has arranged to visit two places: one has independent living and assisted living but no memory care; the other has only independent living.
I mention this not to belittle my mother but because it is fairly typical of any older person investigating senior living options. It is a process first of self-realization and then of actual investigation. When she finally looked into actual communities, she decided that having a full continuum of care is less important than she initially thought. Why? Because, when it comes down to it, first, she is apprehensive about surrendering to “institutional life,” and second, she wants something that is not that different from where she currently lives.
First stop: An independent living and assisted living community.
I drove my mother and her husband to our first stop, which was a mix of independent living and assisted living apartments. “Wow, these people are old!” was her comment as we walked through the assisted living section. From there, we went upstairs to the independent living area to look at three apartments each with different floor plans.
I took pictures to document what they liked and didn’t like. My mother said that they liked the large one-bedroom. It has two bathrooms and a large living room / dining room. Most of the apartments they viewed were in transition, being remodeled. Because of this, they have an opportunity to choose various floor and decorative finishing options. They especially liked a corner apartment that overlooks a lovely park. Both my mother and her husband remarked that the location of the community felt like home to them. It’s a lively, diverse neighborhood with interesting restaurants and shops nearby. It is also within walking distance of one of my brother’s home.
After viewing the apartments, we sat down with the community Sales Director who was personable and knowledgeable. She answered all of their questions and asked if they were ready to move. “Just about,” my mother replied. “I still need to sell my house, but the realtor said it will sell fast.” The move in cost is over $100,000. She has the money in her retirement account but isn’t quite ready to put that kind of money down at this place.
Second stop: High-end independent living apartments.
At this location, we had to climb two sets of stairs to reach the front door. As we toured the lobby, we noticed a pianist playing Nat King Cole tunes. My mother was charmed, by the music and by the musician who stops in from time to time to play for the residents. Either that or the Sales Director has hired him to play whenever she is showing apartments. Clever and effective.
Before touring the actual apartments, we sat down for lunch. The community dining room is actually a restaurant that overlooks a lake that sits in the middle of the city. The setting was beautiful and the food quite good. The restaurant / dining room is clearly a big selling point.
Part of the monthly fee is a dining plan that offers 60 meals per month at this restaurant. My son’s wife told me that they have met friends for brunch at this restaurant more than once. Having an actual restaurant to dine with friends and family rather than a senior living dining hall is a huge selling point.
This place is exclusively independent living.
After finishing lunch, we toured three different apartments. The apartments are all beautifully furnished. They also have beautiful architectural features that harken back to the buildings original design as a lakeside hotel in the 1920s.
For those residents who need some help with their activities and daily living, they hire one of the local home care companies for assistance. Two of these agencies have office hours right in the building.
Within 30 minutes, my mother and her husband were ready to put down a deposit. The move in cost is around $6,000, substantially less than the previous community. The difference is that there is no assumed responsibility by the community for taking care of people when they can no longer take care of themselves. It is basically a non-refundable deposit on an age-restricted apartment.
The long and winding road to decision-making.
This is not what my mother said she wanted at the onset of this journey. When they need more assistance, they will be forced to move into a community with levels of care. Yet she is now quite sure that this is what she wants. I will sit down in the next few days to make sure this is the right route for her. She will also check in with my brothers and sisters to get their opinions before making the final decision.
NEXT: The Decision-Making Proces
SGD is a full-service Bay Area advertising, marketing, branding and public relations agency specializing in seniors, boomers and adult children. In addition to working with new senior living communities, we’ve repositioned, rebranded and relaunched senior living communities in California, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia attaining occupancy rates of 90% or more in very competitive markets.
About the Author: Duff Reiter is an Account Director / Planner at SGD Advertising specializing in senior / boomer, healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands since 1984.