Aging at Home vs. Choosing a CCRC: Who’s Winning the Battle for Senior Living?

As the senior population expands, so does the demand for senior living options. According to the US Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections, by 2030, one out of every five Americans will be over 65. This demographic shift could result in doubled average demand for senior housing options, though competition between senior living communities may increase accordingly.

For continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), the main competitors may not necessarily be other senior living and retirement communities but older adults who opt to remain at home as they age.

Why Seniors Choose to Remain at Home

Seniors might prefer staying put rather than moving into a retirement community or nursing home for various reasons.

Hefty taxes

According to a 2024 CNN report, one big reason is financial. Federal and state capital gains tax (a tax on the profit made on an asset or investment) for the sale of a long-time family home is often so large that many homeowners who might prefer to downsize are put off from selling due to the vast sum of money they’d lose. The report uses examples of homeowners in California whose properties have seen significant growth in value over time. While laws allow a tax exemption for a profit of $ 250,000 for individuals and up to $ 500,000 for couples, any profit above this must pay around 20% to capital gains – a sizable amount a homeowner might have put towards their retirement savings. 

Add this to the usual legal costs of selling a home, and it’s clear why many retirees choose to stay put for as long as possible.

Understanding this particular challenge might help CCRCs tailor packages that better serve this demographic, allowing them some financial breathing room to move to a retirement community.

Perceived loss of independence

Moving is often daunting and may feel like giving up independence, even when considering an option like a continuing care retirement community that offers full independence. Staying close to family and friends might make more sense than moving. CCRC entry fees and monthly rent may not be affordable in certain instances.

Staying at home allows seniors to maintain control and independence, enabling them to choose when to wake up each morning, what meals to have for breakfast, and how they wish to spend their time.

Practical Decisions When Selecting Senior Housing

When deciding on senior housing options, seniors must consider several practical considerations, including stairs or isolated areas that make traveling difficult without a vehicle. In such instances, it may benefit them to move into an accessible place that makes moving around more manageable.

A NIC report identified five top senior concerns:

  • remaining in their homes as they age,
  • being burdensome to children/families,
  • losing independence,
  • having an insufficient income, and
  • becoming sick or disabled

Notably, none of these top concerns involve transitioning into senior living communities.

How can CCRCs confront seniors’ desire to age at home?

More than any other senior living housing option, CCRCs must allow prospective residents to feel that their decision to move into a community is their choice—that they are doing this for themselves—rather than their family’s or children’s decision or obligation.

A great way of doing this is through marketing communications: targeted communication that addresses the seniors directly, encourages independence, and conveys a sense of community and quality of life. All of this highlights an attractive senior lifestyle, especially one tailored toward healthy, active older adults.

Continuing care retirement communities also give seniors a sense of community and belonging, often lacking in their home environment in this stage of life.

It is well known that social interaction and support provided in senior living communities are invaluable in maintaining health; For many seniors, this interaction and support are critical for maintaining well-being. Socializing has been found to reduce loneliness and isolation among older adults and stave off depression while giving seniors purposeful activities to keep mentally sharp.

Furthermore, senior living communities typically offer higher security than at home – this may be particularly important for those at risk for falls or other accidents.

Technology as a Differentiator in Senior Living

Utilizing technology can also help distinguish senior living communities from the competition.

Some continuing care retirement communities are beginning to offer senior residents tablets for social connection, entertainment, and news. Others have integrated Amazon Echo technology so seniors can order groceries or medication without picking up the phone. Still, more are offering concierge services comparable to luxury hotels.

CCR and Life Plan communities use technology to enrich residents’ lives and improve their experiences. As seniors’ needs change and new technologies emerge, we can anticipate even more groundbreaking innovations within senior living.

Wrap Up

Seniors aspire to age gracefully and maintain their dignity, whether they choose a CCRC or opt to remain at home. Senior living communities that prioritize independence, emphasize quality of lifestyle, and leverage unique amenities will position themselves as leaders in the battle for occupancy.

As the landscape evolves, CCRCs must adapt, understand seniors’ diverse needs and preferences, and continually innovate to provide an exceptional living experience.

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