A novel by Anthony Burgess
Neither did I until I read Chapter 8, "The First Year and Beyond" of Bernice Kohn Hunt's 2006 WHERE SHOULD I LIVE WHEN I RETIRE? A GUIDE TO CONTINUING-CARE (Retirement) COMMUNITIES...acronym CCRCs.
FYI: my wife and I have lived since March 2004 in one such CCRC. It is called Highland Farms Retirement Community and is in Black Mountain, Western North Carolina 15 miles east of our county seat, Asheville. I am already telling you more truth about my retirement community than Mrs Hunt does about hers. For she gives it a false name "Kimberly Hills"(for no obvious reason) merely saying that it is in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania about 200 miles from where she and husband Morton Hunt used to live in East Hampton, New York.
The book is well organized and should be read in the order given in its Table of Contents, namely,
1. Crossing the Age Equator, 3 (NOTE = age 65 and Medicare!)
2. Continuing-Care Retirement Communities, 13 (aka CCRCs)
3. The Search for a “Perfect” Community, 29
4. Looking Over the Information Packet, 37
5. Visiting the Communities on Your List, 45
6. Checking Out the Amenities, 59 (e.g. swimming pool, cocktail lounge, exercise room, croquet, etc.)
7. Taking the Plunge, 67 (signing a contract, packing up, moving in)
8. The First Year and Beyond, 75
Appendix A. Checklist for Comparing CCRCs, 85
Appendix B. Directive to Heirs, 93
About the Author, 99
Mrs Hunt pitches her book to people 60 years or older who are wondering how to spend their retirement years: in their old house, somewhere else in a new house or in a retirement community. Bernice Hunt strongly recommends retiring to an organized retirement community with the following three ideal characteristics:
-- (1) it is not-for-profit
-- (2) and accredited by CCAC, the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission
-- (3) And is neither fee-for-service nor modified but "extensive," that is your initial entry fee to the community guarantees you good medical care until you die, including, ideally, an on the campus clinic, private room in the CCRC's medical facility and one-time payment in advance for all prescription drugs!
There are of course dozens of other things that Bernice Hunt would have us all bear in mind as we consider which CCRC to select and move into: villa or apartment?
laundry in your apartment or down the hall?
cultural events and much more.
One thing that surprised Mr and Mrs Hunt (and there were many surprises) was that once they moved in to their pseudonymous campus "Kimberly Hills," residents already there were not like what the Hunts had expected. Most were from Pennsylvania, not out of state, many had gone through school together. None (an impression later corrected) had ever voted for anyone but Republicans. Dresses for women were almost de rigueur. Men had to wear coats and ties in the main dining room. Intellectuals existed but not many. Too many residents drank more than the Hunts did. More residents enjoyed playing bridge than the Hunts did. And on and on.
"Kimberly Hills" had its own distinct "cognitive style." Mrs Hunt does not describe that CCRC's unique cognitive style. But whatever it is, it had formed over the years and then become customary. Although the author does not say so herself, it seems to me the reviewer, that her excellent Appendix A. Checklist for Comparing CCRCs might usefully have a box about gathering much more detailed information about your future co-residents before you opt definitively for your dream retirement community.
There is an awful lot of Mrs Bernice Kohn Hunt and her biography in A GUIDE TO CONTINUING-CARE COMMUNITIES as well as a tendency to boost her personal preferences to canonical status for other readers. She is determined that when she and husband retire, it will be their last move and the community's number one service will be to take good care of them when they fall sick, without demanding "pay for service."
By contrast I know quite a few in my own Highland Farms Retirement Community (doctors, missionaries, diplomats, teachers, librarians, who do not come here predetermined to die on the campus. People move out of Highland Farms to be with or near to family. They do not obsess about pre-paying an "extensive" contract that guarantees them residence till death, even if their money runs out.
On the other hand the author's neuroses or druthers or whatever they are are some of the liveliest writing in the book. Without the personal dimension, WHERE SHOULD I LIVE WHEN I RETIRE? might be about as lively as a telephone directory.
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