More than a dozen years ago when I started paying attention to senior issues I saw two major common concerns: housing and money.

Repeatedly people told me that they wanted to continue living in their homes because the only alternative — a horrible one —was a nursing home. There were visions of dormitories and cafeterias and no privacy. I never understood exactly what all the problems were with nursing homes but the message was that if someone could no longer stay in their home and “age in place” it was the best choice.

Now, there are caregivers to help people stay longer in their homes and alternative housing choices that include smaller houses, condos, apartments and retirement communities — some with and some without continuing care. And now one of the newer choices for seniors is a CCRC. That’s a Continuing Care Retirement Community and that’s what I considered when I realized it was time to move. I was looking for independent living but wanted to be prepared if I needed extra assistance.

That need for assistance became a reality last year when in a fall I fractured my knee cap. The weeks I spent in Mary’s Woods Continuing Care were expensive as were the ambulances to take me to medical appointments, since a splint meant I couldn’t bend my knee and no one I knew had a car that would accommodate an unbent leg.

I paid my bills and benefited from continuing to live in this community. I did not expect my neighbors to help me with my medical expenses.

However, in the senior community concerns about finances continue and now a new problem has arisen. The Oregon State Legislature is considering House Bill 2056, a proposed bed tax that removes the previous exemption of CCRCs. The proposal is intended to recover federal dollars for Oregon’s Medicaid nursing facilities. Of course, that is no benefit to CCRCs that don’t do business with Medicaid.

I had little understanding of what CCRCs can and can’t do. Now what I do understand and appreciate is the action of residents here and at other CCRCs. People are writing and calling their representatives. Some are attending hearings in Salem. I see this as a new opportunity for residents to learn how government operates and how citizens may be able to influence results.

Statistics tell us that seniors are the age group most likely to vote. The fact that you are reading this newspaper and this column also suggests that you are informed when you vote. Whether or not you are concerned about senior housing choices that offer continuing care, please continue to be informed and to cast your ballots. And thanks.

Stories for Positive Aging is a semi-monthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego author of “ Facing Age, Finding Answers”Ardis Stevenson. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.

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