How Does a ‘Continuum of Care’ Benefit Seniors?

By Diane Kane, M.D.

For many seniors, moving to a retirement community is the perfect way to simplify their lives. Finding a community that offers a range of services and activities makes it easier to start a new chapter and make new friends, while affording you the independence you desire.

As you start planning, remember that even if you live independently today, there is no guarantee you will be able to do so tomorrow. A retirement community that offers a continuum of care will be able to help you as your needs change.

• Priority placement — The best reason for moving to a continuum of care retirement community while you are independent is that you will get priority access to higher levels of care should the need arise. This allows you to “age in place,” remaining close to your support network and the community you’re familiar with as your needs change.

• Care options — Having access to assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing services within the community gives you options — and peace of mind. It’s comforting to know that, as the level of care you need becomes greater, it’s readily available. It also relieves your family of the responsibility of finding and coordinating those advanced levels of care if and when you need them.

• Medical professionals on staff — When considering retirement communities, ask whether the medical staff are employees or contractors. Doctors, nurses, and other specialists who are on staff have a greater level of interaction with their patients. Often they are more attuned to the specialized medical needs of those they serve. This staffing detail can make a difference in the timely prevention or resolution of your health issues.

• Focus on wellness — In addition, look for a community that strives to help residents stay healthy and live independently as long as possible through health and wellness. Look for nutrition and fitness programs as well as emotional, spiritual and intellectual experiences that support the whole person.

• Reduce the worry — The process of moving to a new home is a big decision and can seem like a daunting task. By choosing a retirement community that offers a continuum of care, you can take some of the worry out of the road ahead and enjoy your next chapter.

Physician Diane Kane is chief medical officer at St. Ann’s Community. She is board-certified in internal medicine, geriatrics, and hospice & palliative medicine and has been involved in senior care for 30 years. Contact her at or visit

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