Retirement Planning and Continuing Care Communities: Myth v. Reality

Our local business magazine just ran a thorough and thoughtful article on retirement planning. It shows pictures of youthful seniors doing water aerobics, swinging on a lake-side hammock and more. The article highlights idyllic retirement where assets cover comfortable living and seniors have choices. 

Yes, some people (those blessed with good health and good jobs or both) can enjoy this kind of retirement. What the article does not address, (and I am not implying the article should have addressed this issue) is what happens when one spouse suffers a debilitating health condition like Dementia, or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or MS, etc. 

  • Can the family stay together?
  • Is one allowed to stay in an apartment while the other goes to the skilled care facility? Is there an additional charge for that?
  • What happens when one spouse becomes confused, and wanders, leaves the campus – is there a policy wherein the facility is allowed to ask both to leave?
  • Can they facility force your family to hire a private duty nurse or remove you from the assisted living units?
  • What if a loved one is asked to leave, do you get your entrance fees back?

Each and every facility has a different policy and the law provides little to no guidance. What is heartbreaking however, is the families that sign up for what they believe is the answer for them – permanent care no matter the condition, selling their home and paying exorbitant entrance fees, only to learn the community will not care for a patient that wanders, or keep families in the same level of care etc. 

So while they water aerobics facility may be a selling point – the bigger and harder questions need to be asked as well. 



Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at