Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt has it all figured out. With their three children grown and out of their New Jersey home, she and her husband, William, will move into a full-service retirement community this year. It will be someplace “interesting and affordable,” in her words, and, ideally, dry in the summer. “I don’t like humidity,” she said.
The 68-year-old Dr. Ehrhardt — she has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering — has been researching this move for the past couple of years, narrowing her list from more than 100 communities to around a dozen.
Yet something is nagging at her. What if, after all her careful planning, their retirement community has some kind of financial wipeout? “There you are, 97 years old, the community’s bankrupt, its managers are in jail,” she said. “Now what are you going to do?”
According to the New York Times and many seniors, it’s a legitimate concern, and one seniors should weigh as they consider moving into a retirement home. The type favored by the Ehrhardts, a so-called continuing care retirement community, or C.C.R.C., promises you can stay there for the rest of your life, with medical services on site as needed. Entrance fees range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million.
Though industry members point out that financial meltdowns in their world are rare, there have been cases in which retirement homes have had to raise their monthly fees or reduce services. A major C.C.R.C. developer and operator, Erickson Retirement Communities, now known as Erickson Living, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. The company was acquired later that year and continues to function, but not without having given its residents quite a scare.
There are seven key items to focus on when considering a community’s finances. Read them all at the New York Times.