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Senior Citizen's Guide to Chicago

Continuing Care Retirement Communities Reduce Risk for Seniors

For seniors living on their savings built over a lifetime, the turmoil on Wall Street and the devaluation of the housing market are a major source of concern and stress. While the idea of selling a home in a down market and choosing a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) may seem like a big commitment during uncertain times, many seniors find moving to a CCRC may offer exactly the stability that they want and need.

"Making the decision to move to a CCRC is buying security," says Deborah E. Hart, chief financial officer of Smith Senior Living which sponsors Smith Crossing in Orland Park and Smith Village in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood. CCRCs provide a lifestyle that includes housing options as well as social and other programs. All settings—ranging from free-standing villas and independent living apartments to residences for those requiring support through assisted living, Alzheimer's and memory support, and skilled nursing care—are situated in a single location.

Hart and Smith Senior Living CEO Michael Flynn will present a special program, "The Dollars and Sense of CCRCs," at 11 a.m. on Wed., March 4, at Smith Crossing, 10501 Emilie Lane in Orland Park, IL. Guests will gain valuable tools to help them evaluate their own financial situation and decide if moving to a CCRC is right for them. The seminar is free and open to the public, but reservations are required by phoning Bonnie Cummings at 708-326-2300.

CCRCs Make Expenses Predictable

At Smith Crossing, for example, seniors who choose independent living residences pay an entry fee that includes a lifetime care benefit and then a monthly charge that covers their housing plus a host of services and amenities. A CCRC plan eliminates worries about fluctuations in housing prices, expensive home repairs and having not purchased long-term healthcare. Monthly budgets become more predictable. In fact, when you compare the costs of renting a two-bedroom apartment along with all of the amenities included in some CCRCs, the cost is very similar.

Home Values Follow Cycles

Home values follow predictable cycles. Every 30 years, values will drop, then begin to rise at about two or three percent a year.  For seniors, it may be financially wiser to make the best of the current situation than to try to wait out a recovery.  "Many seniors bought their homes in the 1950s or 1960s. So they still have significant value in their homes despite the market changes," says Hart. "Many seniors realize they won't make as much as they might have a few years ago. But when they sell their home—even in current market conditions--they often do better financially when they move to a CCRC.

What happens if I outlive my savings?

Seeing their portfolios dramatically drop in value over the last six months has many seniors very concerned about their financial future. This makes it even more important for seniors, along with their families and advisors, to check financial policies before they choose a community.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities help manage healthcare expenses

The appeal of CCRCs is they offer independent living for active seniors along with services and accommodations, if and when they need then, for assisted living, Alzheimer's and memory support, and skilled nursing care. That way, if residents' health decline, their needs easily can be met without moving to another place or creating financial upheaval.

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