November 16, 2008

Retirement communities have a positive impact

I have been puzzled by the contrasting views communities and governments take toward continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). Just recently, we have seen Howard County government and its communities embrace the proposed development of a CCRC ("Doughoregan senior housing stirring no ire," Sept. 28) and a decidedly opposite reaction in a Baltimore neighborhood, Roland Park, which has rallied against a much smaller senior housing proposal ("Keep country club as city green space," letters, Oct. 22).

The benefits of CCRC development are clear. Such communities help seniors take responsibility for their long-term health care and help control the growth in spending for public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid by providing preventive care and limiting the need for hospitalizations. They allow seniors more options to stay in or nearby their neighborhoods.

Furthermore, seniors tend to thrive in CCRC settings, which combine health care services with social interaction, keeping seniors more in touch and involved in their communities.

From a local government perspective, CCRC development is unlike traditional housing projects such as townhouses, apartment complexes and single-family homes. It has been demonstrated that CCRCs have a lower impact on traffic congestion, schools and public safety demands. In addition, CCRCs typically add significant tax revenue, thereby providing a net financial benefit to localities.

Often, communities' initial reactions to development are negative. However, I urge elected officials and civic leaders to take the time to fully examine the overall impact and the long-term needs of seniors before rushing to judgment.

Isabella Firth, Columbia

The writer is president of the LifeSpan Network, a senior health care association.

Walking a little taller after Obama election

Thanks for Garrison Keillor's column "Suddenly America is cool again - can you believe it?" (Commentary, Nov. 13). So many of us are enjoying the afterglow of the election and perhaps walking a little taller. The whole world seemed to be watching on election night and applauding our choice of a new president-elect.

Velva Grebe, Towson

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