After reading the Aug. 22 story in the Apalachicola and Carrabelle Times headlined “Study offers ideas to boost Carrabelle economy,” I wholeheartedly agree that the area should have assisted living facilities which effectively meet the needs of the community and its populace. If the current local needs are not being properly met, then certainly that shortfall needs immediate addressing and correcting.
However, the study suggesting that, in part, Carrabelle's future be tied to the eldercare industry seems flawed at best. How can Carrabelle aspire to become an eldercare mecca when it has almost none of the qualifications or resources needed to achieve success in that area?
The “many vacant condominium units,” suggested for assisted living conversion, were not constructed with the special needs of the elderly in mind. Conversion, including meeting ADA compliance, would probably prove costly, if not cost prohibitive. Ultimately, conversion of these individual units, which are spread out over an area would not result in the creation of a facility whose clientele could be efficiently and effectively overseen and cared for.
In outlining some of the "special challenges" of the area, the Aug. 22 article warns about the income decline that can result when the population grows older. The article also points out that affordable accessible healthcare is already a concern for local residents. We should not seek to further grow our elderly population until we have the current healthcare concerns fully resolved. Attracting the, predominantly fixed income, elderly to assisted living facilities is not the answer to Carrabelle's financial woes. I daresay these envisioned, large, assisted living care facilities would probably not be purchasing their many provisions from the local IGA or Dollar General. Their operation would ultimately probably mean more money leaving town going to Wal-Mart, Costco, or some wholesaler.
Lastly, who are we trying to attract to these envisioned, assisted living facilities? As aforesaid, current and future local assisted living needs should unquestionably be fully addressed. Most assisted living candidates, however, probably choose to remain in the communities in which they already live in or in communities in which they have family. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that, just because we build the facilities, a large infusion of "outsiders" needing eldercare is going to materialize much less provide us with an economic boost locally.
I give a great big YES to development of a hospitality district, increased tourism, recreation facilities, and retail establishments. Becoming an eldercare attraction, not so much.