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Live-in-Place vs Retirement Community
Old 04-04-2008, 10:30 AM   #1
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Live-in-Place vs Retirement Community

I just viewed Chinaco's link to the PBS Retirement Show. (Thanks, C.)

I was very interested in the Beacon Hill Village segment. It showed us a group of folks who wanted to retire in place vs in senior housing, and who created an organization ($580/yr per person) to provide them with services such as transportation, handyman services, etc. etc. in their own homes.

"Their innovation is so appealing that a national expert on aging at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asserts it could well change the way Americans—and the rest of the world—grow old. "The assisted living and the die-with-a-golf-club-in-your-hand communities had better take notice," says Joseph Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, a think tank on aging."

Here's their site: Beacon Hill Village: Home

And AARP's article on them: AARP Bulletin: Declaration of Independents

How many folks here would be interested in this type of service when the time comes? It looks good to me even relative to the upscale retirement community my Aunt and Uncle are in, and I understand it's a lot cheaper, too.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:15 AM   #2
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I had heard of that a couple years ago. I think it could work well but this group in particular has the advantage of living in a very very very dense housing area with tiny apts. for the most part and services at their doorstep anyway. MGH (Mass. General Hospital) is one block away. Outside of negotiating tenement stairs, there's hardly a place more convenient for an oldster in some respects.. unless you have to golf.

I could see it working in other urban areas, esp. NYC.

The upscale retirement communities have a huge investment in land, buildings, atria, swimming pools, golf courses, etc. so you do pay for that. Plus more maintenance and staff and staff parking, driving, etc. I'd prefer the urban solution as I wouldn't want to feel stuck in the boonies after I'd gotten past the point of being able to drive safely.

My mom in the suburbs has a informal network among her oldster friends: she can still drive so she takes others to doctor's app't.s when she can.. and the one or two able-bodied older guys do occasional handyman things for her for modest pay.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:34 AM   #3
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The other advantage of the Beacon Hill group is $$$$. This is not a middle class area of town, folks.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:45 AM   #4
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Orchidflower, you're right.. but it depends how long the oldsters have been living there. It's tres cher now.. but in the late '70s I knew a good number of students living in those small and then-poorly-maintained and scruffy walkups. Now there is probably a mix of very well-off along with "average" fixed-incomes among the elderly residents. Probably depends on who got in early in the condo-conversion wave, also.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:04 PM   #5
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DW and I have talked about it - when I can't mow the lawn anymore we'll move to a duplex or something like that. There are some nice ones nearby with 2-car garages that are affordable. But her father is 81 and still cuts the grass on a riding mower, the guy next door is 74 and cuts his grass with a walk-behind, so hopefully it'll be a while....
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:54 PM   #6
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DW and I have talked about it - when I can't mow the lawn anymore we'll move to a duplex or something like that. There are some nice ones nearby with 2-car garages that are affordable. But her father is 81 and still cuts the grass on a riding mower, the guy next door is 74 and cuts his grass with a walk-behind, so hopefully it'll be a while....
Mowing got to be too much for me at around age 57, so I hired a lawn guy and joined a gym for exercise instead. He charges $35/mow (just went up from $30/mow). He mows once a week, or less often when it doesn't need it. So, that probably comes to about $100-$120 a month on average. Now that I think about it, you live on a lot of land (I think?) so that could be a lot more.

Anyway, I rationalized it by skimping in other areas.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:05 PM   #7
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Walt34, you could also ditch the lawn and plant a natural forest or meadow -- that's really taking off here, partly because we're in a semi-arid Mediterranean climate and lawns just don't do well (or take ungodly amounts of water). The bonus? A gorgeous view, a nice place to lounge in the shade, and no lawn work. Just hire someone once or twice a year to mulch and you're done!

This is what my mom is doing (she lives in Oregon) so that as age (and arthritis) catches up with her, she and my
Dad can stay in their house.

Just a thought.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:05 PM   #8
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Mowing got to be too much for me at around age 57, so I hired a lawn guy and joined a gym for exercise instead. He charges $35/mow (just went up from $30/mow). He mows once a week, or less often when it doesn't need it. So, that probably comes to about $100-$120 a month on average. Now that I think about it, you live on a lot of land (I think?) so that could be a lot more.
We're just about on mowing season here, too. I've already had a spot-mow a couple of early-growing patches. I definitely need to get the front yard tomorrow morning.

It would probably cost us about $50 to get the yard mowed front and back (we're on nearly half an acre). Right now I'm still doing it with a self-propelled push mower (takes about 2 hours total). At some point I may get a small riding mower; for about $1000 or so I'd only have to mow the yard 20 times for it to pay for itself once I reached the point where I wasn't willing to use the push mower any more and the other alternative was hiring someone to do it. (Think July and August in the middle of Texas here. No one wants to move around, let alone push a mower across a half acre of land...)

But for now I still sweat it out. There is a chance that will be the destination of my tax rebate, though. $1200 should just about cover it given that a small mower with a 20HP engine and a 42" deck should be plenty for half an acre.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:21 PM   #9
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I've heard about the Beacon Hill stuff, too. Administering a program like that sounds like a fabulous job to me. I'd love to help people stay in their homes as they age.

Having watched two sets of grandparents go through this, (and my other set hover on the edge of the decision for the past five years -- and still hovering), I think that if you're highly social and your mobility is declining, a retirement community (especially one with a lot of social activities) is a great idea. My hyper-social grandma moved into one immediately after Grandpa died and it was absolutely the right decision for her.

On the other hand, my more quiet and retiring grandpa would probably really struggle with a busy retirement home --- he likes to be left alone and only really wants to socialize with family. Something like the Beacon Hill project would be perfect for him.

The idea of sequestering old folks away always seemed not-quite-right to me. I, for one, like having them around. Except for the "Old Man Withers" type (as seen on Scooby-Doo) who always is yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, etc.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:45 PM   #10
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I believe that within 50 years the American standard suburban lifestyle will be largely gone, or relegated to lower class and somewhat lawless groups.

Fancy enclaves like Greenwich obviously will be different.

My former residence was in an upscale suburban/retirement community. I watched many couples come out there to retire- drawn by the beauty and peaceful isolation. But let one of them get sick, or let them get older, or let them have new grandchildren back in the city and all the but the most determined are ready to go back to town.

Add in rapidly deteriorating traffic conditions, high gasoline prices (I know, I know, our prices are lower than Europe, but have you compared living densities?) and it will make more and more sense to live in concentrated communities with good public transit.

I am still young, but it is so much easier and less taxing to live close by everything you need and most of what you want that I am sure I will never return to any other way of life.

So this type of aging in place may become more and more the norm. It would sure be nicer for everyone concerned.

The other thing is that I have almost no need for being alone. I have noticed that in returning from somewhere I have walked, I will go a bit out of my way to walk on the streets with more life and foot traffic. Others who feel differently about masses of people might find it otherwise.

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Old 04-04-2008, 04:25 PM   #11
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I am a member of and do a fair amount of volunteer work with Capitol Hill Village in DC. It is modeled after Beacon Hill Village. I enjoy helping the oldsters out - we are talking about a very active, very bright group here. I often do home visits to help people get their computers working and it amazes me what some of these folks have done and are doing. I just hope there are enough Gen Xers coming behind me to help me out when I get a little decrepit.

On the other hand, DW and I just took her father and step mother to visit Riderwood, a comprehensive retirement community with assisted living and nursing home services attached. I was impressed. The place is like a college campus with activities out the kazoo and pretty good food to boot. I think I will prefer to stay in a mixed age community like Capitol Hill, but there is something to say about the social benefits of a place like Riderwood. My college senior daughter was home recently and picked up the brochure. At first she said, ''what is this, some old folks home?" Then she flipped through and said, "I want to live here. All old folks ought to get to live someplace like this, it's cool." Go figure.
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:28 PM   #12
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So this type of aging in place may become more and more the norm. It would sure be nicer for everyone concerned.
I believe you are correct. The "norm" will change in the future, driven by the boomers.

How many 55+ communities did you hear about 10+ years ago (much less than today).

My DW/me did look into the possibility of moving to such a community since I'm retired and she may be so in the next year or so (both 60).

What would we be giving up? A lot of the maintenance (lawn, exterior home work, etc.)

Unfortunately, we would also be giving up what we like about our acre+ property - having "frisbee room" for the dogs, "puttering in the garden", and just "walking the property along the woods" in a warm summer night and a springtime picinic under the trees.

We realize that "someday" we will have to move on. What we realized is that it isn't today (nor necessarily tommorow). What we will have as an "option" in the future may not even be on the horizon at this point, but it's great that we do have the option (whatever it may be) to persue our desires in retirement - not something our "former generation" family could do.

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Old 04-04-2008, 04:56 PM   #13
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On the other hand, DW and I just took her father and step mother to visit Riderwood, a comprehensive retirement community with assisted living and nursing home services attached. I was impressed.
DW has an aunt living there now. It is indeed a very nice place. Bring your checkbook. I'm not being critical about that, the people who live there get what they pay for. But for many, as another relative found when he looked into Riderwood, it is simply not affordable.
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:07 PM   #14
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Mowing got to be too much for me at around age 57, so I hired a lawn guy and joined a gym for exercise instead. He charges $35/mow (just went up from $30/mow). He mows once a week, or less often when it doesn't need it. So, that probably comes to about $100-$120 a month on average. Now that I think about it, you live on a lot of land (I think?) so that could be a lot more.
Not a lot of land, just the 1/4 acre lot. But there's a hill behind the house that I mow because it backs up to woods and I wanted to keep the critters in the woods. Ran over a copperhead with the lawn mower once right after moving. The house with the 1st wife was 3/4 acre and one of the things I learned was that I don't like spending two hours mowing. One is okay but not two.

If the weather is too hot (90+) I'll do the front one day and the back the next.

Urchina, lawns are required here. Golf course community, homeowners association, etc. I don't water it, tried that once during a drought and all I got for my trouble was a $200 water bill. The grass didn't seem to notice the water.
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:52 PM   #15
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Ross Chapin Architects This is one example of my idea of the ideal place to retire, the small but beautifully detailed 'not so big' homes and the pocket neighborhood concept, but they're almost all in WA state. We're hoping this concept will spread to the mid-Atlantic states or wherever we end up.
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:07 PM   #16
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I believe that within 50 years the American standard suburban lifestyle will be largely gone, or relegated to lower class and somewhat lawless groups.
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:43 PM   #17
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Ross Chapin Architects This is one example of my idea of the ideal place to retire, the small but beautifully detailed 'not so big' homes and the pocket neighborhood concept, but they're almost all in WA state. We're hoping this concept will spread to the mid-Atlantic states or wherever we end up.
YES! I really love these Ross Capin cottage communities and would try to move to one if it wasn't in Washington state. I wish they would branch out and build in Colorado.

I will likely stay in place until I can't take care of myself any longer. I have easy access to all services, doctors, hospitals, and there's a good cab service if I can't drive. We have a great seniors program too.

When I need assisted living I will move to a facility that allows you to keep your dog with you! There's at least one in my community already.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:15 PM   #18
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At some point, wanting to live alone will conflict with needing assistance for mundane tasks.

Will enough Baby Boomers be in this situation to facilitate a workaround?
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:03 AM   #19
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YES! I really love these Ross Chapin cottage communities and would try to move to one if it wasn't in Washington state. I wish they would branch out and build in Colorado.
When I've talked to them, they are too small (7 people in their office) to expand outside their 'home turf' which is near Seattle, although there's at least one in OR. They told me they're relying on investors/contractors in other areas to build elsewhere. I know of Bryant Park Cottages (Hilton Head) and Merchant Street Cottages (New Buffalo, MI) so far, but there may be others...
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:29 PM   #20
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When I've talked to them, they are too small (7 people in their office) to expand outside their 'home turf' which is near Seattle, although there's at least one in OR. They told me they're relying on investors/contractors in other areas to build elsewhere. I know of Bryant Park Cottages (Hilton Head) and Merchant Street Cottages (New Buffalo, MI) so far, but there may be others...
Hmmmm, my mind is working on this one. The problem might be that land is just too expensive in my neck of the woods to make it feasible.
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