Skip to comments.Aging Baby Boomers: Could older folks live aboard cruise ships?
Posted on 12/20/2004 5:44:16 PM PST by qam1
MIAMI - Gil and Teresa Betthauser spent more than a decade of their retirement touring the nation in a motor home, and now in their 70s, they can't imagine the idea of ending their travels to move into an assisted-living facility.
That's why they're intrigued by a recent study that proposes seniors who need only minimal care should take the money they would have spent on assisted living and book permanent passage on cruise ships.
"When people have an opportunity to go to the Bahamas, they'd have something to look forward to and they'd live longer," said the 76-year-old Teresa, who currently lives with her husband in a retirement community in Tucson, Ariz.
The two Northwestern University physicians who wrote the study, Drs. Lee Lindquist and Robert Golub, make the case that the costs for an entire year in an assisted-living center are comparable to those on a cruise ship. Doctors or nurses are always on call on larger ships. All meals are taken care of. Libraries, movie theaters and pools are available for entertainment.
And perhaps most importantly, the allure of being in the warm weather all year and visiting exotic places might persuade some resistant seniors to get the care they need.
"It comes to a point where they can't live at home alone," Lindquist said. "That's the hardest thing to do, to send someone to an assisted-living facility. No one thinks they're old enough."
The authors acknowledge that crew members would have to receive additional training, such as in dispensing pills and helping the elderly get dressed. And only seniors who weren't bedridden or seriously ill could live at sea.
"With assisted living, these are pretty much independent seniors. They'd need help with maybe one or two activities, meal preparation, shopping or taking medications," Lindquist said.
The study calculated an annual cost in a double cabin on a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ship at about $33,000 per person. A search on Yahoo's travel Web site had prices as low as $399 per person in a double cabin for a seven-night cruise in the Gulf of Mexico on a Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. ship. Port charges, taxes and government fees could bring that up to about $26,000 a year per person.
That's not a bad deal, the study contends, because the average annual cost at an assisted-living center is about $22,000 per person, according to federal and private data. In large cities such as Chicago, those costs can exceed $48,000 a year.
There would be extra costs, such as transport from the ship for emergency care and crew training. But Lindquist said she has gotten hundreds of e-mails since the study's November release from people interested in the idea, including the Betthausers. Lindquist suggests there could be an untapped market among America's more than 35 million people who are age 65 or older.
About 800,000 Americans with an average age of 80 are in assisted-living facilities, according to the National Center for Assisted Living.
There might only be 30 or 40 elderly people living on each ship, so companies wouldn't have to worry about being known as "the old folks cruise," Lindquist said. That way they could also mingle with a younger crowd, said Lindquist, who got the idea after taking a cruise with her parents, who are in their late 50s.
So far, the cruise industry hasn't enthusiastically responded to the proposal. The two biggest cruise companies, Carnival Corp. & PLC and Royal Caribbean, refused to comment on the plan.
About 9.8 million people traveled on cruise ships last year, and more than a quarter were 60 or older, according to industry figures.
But the International Council of Cruise Lines, a trade group that represents the major companies, doesn't think the industry is prepared to handle a large number of permanent residents with special medical needs.
"Cruises are intended to be a vacation. They're not intended to be a long-term assisted-living facility," council President Michael Crye said.
Cruise lines also have been marketing themselves to a more active crowd over the past two decades, getting away from an old saying that the typical passenger was "newlywed, overfed or nearly dead."
Crye said none of the council's members was considering Lindquist's idea but agreed one day there might be a market for this type of cruising. "Baby boomers are going to be over the next decade or 20 years people that are going to be in this category," he said.
Would make an excellent senior community.
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
Someone should start a company which caters specifically to this market.
"the average annual cost at an assisted-living center is about $22,000 per person, according to federal and private data. In large cities such as Chicago, those costs can exceed $48,000 a year."
I know several assisted living facilities in small town Ohio which cost around 4000/month--48K per year. The only thing a cruise ship could not provide, that they have now, is proximity to family.
And that means more to AL residents, at least those (many) who have family nearby, than warm weather or sunny climes.
They will only go for it if they don't have to pay a dime.
"Gil and Teresa Betthauser spent more than a decade of their retirement touring the nation in a motor home, and now in their 70s, they can't imagine the idea of ending their travels to move into an assisted-living facility."
Currently living in Tucson. Ten to one they don't have any family within 1000 miles.
The ships should not be exclusively for the elderly. There should be room for their children who would like to combine a cruise with a visit to the folks.
Not a bad idea. Karen and I once took a "cruise to no-where." Did a lot of reading, drinking marqueritas, and trap-shooting.
hmm you used to be able to get a deduction for your RV if you lived in it a certain # of months per year...maybe they can do a time share type thing... live on board during the cold months...and get the deduction
And then what.....sink the ship?
Do you mean the Freedom Ship? http://www.freedomship.com/ Looks good to me, there's nothing better than a day at sea!
'Someone should start a company which caters specifically to this market.'
"Virgin" Airlines, possibly ...
Why can't someone work out a deal with a hotel for say $50/night for room and board for a year plus reasonable access to the hotel doctor?
This way if you don't want to get seasick and don't mind walking the same stretch of beach you could have a nicer place to live than an assisted living facility?
Bump for the Seasoned...
The government has a heavy hand in assisted living units even though they are private pay. Hotels may not want to get involved in inspections, surveys, mandates.... A cruise line in international waters might be able to get around it.
Would Medicare/Medicaid be paying for this?