NY Times: Seniors Hand in Their Keys but Hold Onto Independence in RV Assisted Living

A group of seniors that has valued their independence and ability to roam because of their RVs have reached the proverbial end of the road, but they haven’t given up the RV lifestyle, reports a New York Times article in the last of a series on creative senior housing situations.

About 50 seniors continue to live in their RV homes in a 33-lot park, Escapees Care, located in Livingston, Tex. They’re situated next to a larger, 140-acre park, Rainbow’s End, where the Escapees Club, the largest association of RV enthusiasts, is headquartered.

Residents of Escapees Care all live in their RVs, and have access to the Escapees Care Center, which has registered nurses on call 40 hours a week, but has no beds. The costs for living in the park are $824 a month per person, or $1,236 a couple. This covers costs of transportation, laundry, and three meals a day, besides access to the care center, which offers adult day care for those with dementia, and a weekly support group for those with low vision, says the Times article.

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“It is really an RV-assisted living,” said Robert Brinton, Facilities Director, in a video included in the article. “Most of our people are what we call full-timers. They lived in their RV twelve months of the year, so when they come in here, it’s just like coming into any RV park. It is not a nursing home,” he emphasized.

The driving force behind the care center is Kay Peterson, who founded the Escapees Club in 1978 as a way to unite the RV community. She raised $170,000 in donations from Escapees Club members and opened the center in 1997 after witnessing her aging peers forced into undesirable senior housing situations. Residents’ dues cover about 56% of the operating costs, reports the Times, while donations from the Escapees Club make up the rest.

Many members have been able to maintain a fairly independent lifestyle, although aging has limited their mobility, and most of the RVs are permanently parked. Through group activities and close proximity, they’ve created what was described as a strong social network.

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“I think of us as an extended family,” said member Rae Spake in the video.

Read the article and watch the video here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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