5 Benefits of Living in a CCRC During the Pandemic

January 25, 2021 | Community | Events | Advice

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Photo CC: Two residents sit on a bench next to each other, residents holding drinks, residents high-fiving 

5 Benefits of Living in a CCRC During the Pandemic

Most people who choose to live in community do so because of the support, friendship and fellowship that shared environments bring. It is difficult, therefore, to imagine how communal living is possible, enjoyable, and more importantly safe – in a world that still struggles to control the wildfire-like spread of COVID-19.

That is why it might come as a surprise to learn how many benefits come with living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) – even during a pandemic, when communal activities have been largely eliminated. Read on for 5 benefits of living in a CCRC during COVID-19.

1. Community Preparedness.
Most CCRCs have contingency planned for all sorts of emergencies, from power outages to natural disasters. So, it should be no surprise that its leaders are some of the best-equipped with approaching the pandemic with an eyes wide open outlook and begin planning for not IF there is a positive case, but what to do WHEN there is. Taking a proactive approach to disaster planning means knowing the whole community is prepared for anything that might happen. (Ask this of a conventional neighborhood or apartment complex!)

2. A Known Quantity of Risk.
By now, most of us are used to wearing masks and practicing physical distancing from those outside of our household. Yet how many of us walk into a grocery store and see people unmasked, or crowding too close, or not wearing the mask correctly? There is security in community knowing that everyone is following the same PPE and infection control practices to protect themselves and each other. All of us, every day, no matter where we go, can expect some exposure to people who may or may not be positive for COVID-19, and we do not know their overall infection practices. The greater world is an unknown quantity of risk. Living in a CCRC that has strict infection control and PPE requirements, however, is a known quantity. There is reassurance that everyone who lives and works in community is doing everything possible to control risk.

3. Store-to-Door Services and Meals.
At the start of the pandemic, there was a “run” on all sorts of essential products – including toilet paper, Kleenex, and sanitizing cleaners. While most people scrambled to try to locate these supplies, residents in a CCRC did not have to worry, knowing that their basic needs would be met: environmental service workers clean and sanitize their homes and common spaces, the dining services teams source, prepare and deliver fresh, scratch-made meals, while other staff shop for groceries or pick up prescriptions.

4. Socially Connected Programs and Events. One of the hardest realities of life during COVID-19 for everyone but especially for older adults, has been isolation – not only from friends and family – but from worship services, volunteer activities, the theater, and the arts, to name a few. For many elders, these activities are the very things they most anticipated enjoying in retirement. Creative retirement communities have shown immense resourcefulness in bringing the world to older adults’ doorsteps. The explosion of live fitness classes, virtual world tours of faraway places, even in-home group wine tastings and online worship services have all helped bridge the gap between real life and COVID-19 life.

5. Neighbors Caring for Neighbors. Living alone, people can find themselves isolated and lonely: perhaps knowing few neighbors or having family live too far away to visit or offer support. In fact, a 2020 poll conducted by the University of Michigan indicates that loneliness among older adults doubled during the first months of the pandemic, with 41 percent reporting feeling a lack of companionship. In this singular capacity, CCRCs excel. Neighbors look out for neighbors. Staff look out for neighbors. Collectively, retirement communities have united in finding ways to encourage connection – even if it is just a simple hello or a wave from the door! Residents in CCRCs are aware of each other. Sometimes, just knowing a neighbor cares can make the difference between a good day and a great day.

Weighing living options in retirement can be daunting, even under circumstances that do not involve a pandemic. Take the time to analyze your own lifestyle, what makes you happy, and what you need to feel fulfilled and supported in your later years. Community living is not only possible, but beneficial, in so many ways.