The DANGEROUS truth about senior communities

By
Real Estate Agent with Realty One Group # S.0190863

In 2018, I went to work at a local senior community. It was a concept known as a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC. This community had independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care all in one campus. Once you moved in, you would never need to move out. We were actually the only CCRC in Las Vegas. I came into the position with great anticipation of really helping families get the best care for themselves or for their parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, I did see a lot of the opposite.

First off, if you are planning for a community of this type in your future, realize they are expensive. Our smallest 1 bedroom (about 600 sq. ft.) was over $134,000 PLUS $3,400 per month every month until you went to a higher level of care (at which point costs would go up higher). I heard of one in California where a 1 bedroom was over $600,000 up front and over $8,000 per month.

Second, listen carefully to what they are telling you. Then repeat back the information so that they must confirm it. In communities like the one I worked in, you never actually sold real estate (and so unfortunately, you were never kept to standards of integrity that we are). I knew a director of sales that all the time told clients of savings of over 50% (when in fact, they were more like 10 to 30%). He is still the director of sales and he still sees no problem spreading false information to make a sale.

Look closely at the community. I mean REAL close. If you were a property manager would you have replaced the carpet years ago? I know of one director of a community where the maintenance team was understaffed and weeks behind schedule and that director told the maintenance director to eliminate a maintenance position so they could save money and hopefully get a bonus.

Before making a commitment, show up unexpectedly at dinner time. You’ll want to see what the food is like when they can’t make special preparations ahead of time. I know one couple who moved out (losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so) simply because the food was so bad.

Talk to existing residents as much as possible. Especially if none of the sales or management staff is around. You want to hear first hand experience of what it is really like to live there. There was one day where one of the folks in a memory care had wandered off in the night half dressed and the 1 staff member there to oversee 12 residents in that area had no idea. A resident living there may tell you information like that.

Investigate the community. I spoke with a woman who moved to another community instead of the one I was at. She told me how twice in the previous 12 months that community was shut down for health code violations.

Finally, you can never arrive too early to independent living but you can arrive too late. The first family I ever got a deposit from while I was there had been telling the community for 5 years that they weren’t ready. One day I was called and the lady said, “I am so glad you called. I am ready and I want to move in.” Unfortunately, after we took the deposit, we did a brief 11 question cognitive test. She only got 2 correct. We had to refund her and send her away. She had no idea what year it was or how old she was. Her own son didn’t realize how bad her cognitive state had become.

If you are thinking about senior communities for yourself, your parents or grandparents use complete diligence before making your choice.

Comments (82)

Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Yes, Lyn Sims the stakes are high (because its our loved ones) so we must always make sure to do due diligence.

Oct 15, 2020 08:29 PM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Dana Basiliere it sounds like you are a man that knows what he is talking about and has first hand experience. Hopefully yours went well.

Oct 15, 2020 08:31 PM
Shannon Jones
The Shannon Jones Team - Long Beach, CA
Long Beach CA Real Estate

Great info. Thanks for sharing!

Oct 16, 2020 10:26 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning Shannon Jones glad you found the post useful.  It breaks my heart what some families have had to go through.

Oct 16, 2020 11:02 AM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

I have never been a fan! I may end up going to one, but it will be kicking and screaming

Oct 17, 2020 12:42 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Tom Bailey I hear ya loud and clear. I advise to have people you trust to do due diligence should you ever require one.

Oct 17, 2020 08:06 AM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Rocky Dickerson 
Excellent set of details to share with us. You are right about one thing for sure -- the CCRC concept is costly. The one where I volunteer charges more than the amounts you mentioned. They do return 90% of initial cost to families when a resident moves out as soon as the unit is re-assigned to another. Lynn

Oct 17, 2020 01:41 PM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Lynn B. Friedman that's true I should have mentioned that.  The prices I named were the non refindable prices.  If you wanted 50% refunded it was far more expensive.

Oct 17, 2020 02:33 PM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727

Rocky Dickerson 
Of course, everywhere is different - only one price point here! And if a new resident chooses finishes other than the standard ones, the upcharge is NOT part of the refunded amount. Take care! Hope to see you at the MeetUp on Tuesday. Ben Kinney is coming to give an update/answer questions. 

Oct 17, 2020 02:36 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Thank you for posting this.  I always wonder why these places are so very expensive, yet they pay the staff that actually cares for the residents so very little.  Could it be insurance reasons?  It's so difficult to find care for older people, living so much longer but needing special care.

Oct 17, 2020 04:16 PM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR I am sad to say that I learned recently that many of these "non profits" in the industry actually own subcontracting companies that make huge profits off of these folks.

Oct 17, 2020 04:27 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Rocky Dickerson - This is a chilling expose and I thank you for it. I have known many friends who have brought skilled people into their parent's homes to assist them.  It seems to be a more controllable way to care for your loved ones while allowing them to live in a familiar place surrounded by those they love. 

Oct 18, 2020 07:41 AM
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR

Good Morning Rocky Dickerson , Thank you for your article and your honesty.  This is great information to have if anyone is considering  a senior community.  

When I saw your title, at first I thought you were talking 55+ communities.  We have many of those in south Florida, but we also have senior communities as you are referring to.  

Oct 18, 2020 07:45 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morniing Sheri Sperry - MCNE® having been a real estate broker before I was in that industry, it mortified me how many people just assumed all the sales staff were real estate agents and bound to that level of ethics and integrity. Unfortunately, they are not in way too many areas.

Oct 18, 2020 08:40 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Thank you Elyse Berman, PA yeah the status of senior care is much worse than people realize. There are some great caring people in the industry, unfortunately, there are far too many bad ones.

Oct 18, 2020 08:43 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Rocky Dickerson Actually he's still in his home, living on his own at 98 - with some help that comes in every day.  By the time we selected a nice place, they wouldn't take him.  But when the time comes, I think I know where it will be.

Oct 18, 2020 07:33 PM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089 that is great that he is still in his own home. And 98? Wow! That is amazing.

Oct 18, 2020 08:05 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow!  Thank you, thank you for this super informative post of which I did not realize.  Sharing this information is HUGE for family members with this topic of discussion. 

Oct 23, 2020 12:10 PM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Thank you Jan Green after seeing what I had seen while in that industry, I just want to get the word out on what to look out for.

Oct 23, 2020 12:13 PM
Jan Green

You could write an entire series on this topic!


 

Oct 24, 2020 08:04 AM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

That is thought provoking...anger inducing...and head scratching information.

I would use other words but am told they (AR, my wife, etc.) do not like my regular choice of 4 -letter words that I would use if we were talking face to face or on the phone.

I am glad you got out quickly...I am sure it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you think about the hardships caused.  

Nov 12, 2020 02:39 PM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Very true Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker  I am sad at the state of so many in that industry, and how so many don't have any interest in making it better.

Nov 12, 2020 02:58 PM