Coronapanic lockdowns will devalue independent living retirement homes?

The elderly folks whom I know that live in “independent living” retirement homes have now been locked down for six months. They can’t socialize, which was their motivation for moving into the dorm-style environment. The dining rooms are closed and meals are brought to their apartments. The shared athletic and activity facilities have been closed. Many are widows who are essentially locked into solitary confinement.

For folks who had only 4 years of life expectancy remaining, in order to protect them from a 5-20 percent chance of dying from coronaplague, they have now had a 100 percent chance of losing out on most of the things that they valued for 12 percent of their life expectancy.

(A friend’s mom has actually lost nearly 100 percent of the things that she enjoys for 100 percent of what turned out to be her remaining life. This widow was locked down in March, giving up her four weekly exercise classes and her multiple hours per day of socializing and excursions. She was feeling worse and worse. Eventually she got to see a doctor and was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She is almost certain to die befor the lockdown is lifted.)

On the other hand, the elderly folks that are living in regular houses or apartment buildings are free to visit family members, free to socialize with each other, free to go out to stores (whichever ones the governors and state license rajs will permit to open!), free to go to the beach, etc.

Independent living facilities are fairly expensive. Hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy in (co-op or condo) and then thousands of dollars per month for services, most of which are now shut down. Why spend this money and put oneself at risk of a multi-month or multi-year lockdown, whatever the state governor feels like ordering? Why not instead stay in an ordinary house or apartment building and hire a helper for a few hours per day if needed?

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Plan Retirement before College

At lunch with some retired folks here in Williamsburg, Virginia I asked “Don’t you miss your friends back in D.C.?”  No, they replied, “We went to William and Mary [the local liberal arts college] and 21 of our friends from school have retired here as well.  We have more friends here in Williamsburg than we do back where we lived when we were working.”

College is the time when a lot of people form their closest friendships.  Perhaps it makes sense to pick a college based on whether the town is a reasonable retirement destination.

Duke and UNC Chapel Hill are good (warm weather, cheap housing).  Yale is bad (high-crime neighborhood, cold weather).  Harvard and MIT are bad ($2 million fixer-upper houses, cruel winters).  Any school in Florida is prime!

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