Continuing Care

CCRC is a living option for seniors that provide independent living units (including apartment, townhomes, or houses), assisted living units, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation care in a campus style setting. Some CCRCs will also have memory care units for residents with dementia. The assisted living units, nursing homes, and special care units are generally intended for residents of the community. A typical community will have about 300 units.

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What is a CCRC?

The CCRC model is intended to create an environment where seniors can live in one community as they age and get the level of care that they need. Seniors can enter the community in the independent living units, and if their needs increase, they can be moved to the assisted or nursing units. Seniors can lead an active lifestyle and get the care they need without having to move to a new community. Some of the services that CCRCs will provide include social work, dietician and nutrition, pharmacies, and various types of therapy.

CCRCs offer so much more than just health care. Depending on the terms of their contract, seniors may be offered laundry and housekeeping services, meals, lawn maintenance, and transportation services. Beyond those amenities, CCRCs offer many activities for their seniors and most communities will include a swimming pool, a common dining room, wellness centers, and gyms. There are often social events that seniors can attend to interact with others in the community, which may include a night out at a show, dining, or dancing. With everything in one location, it is easy for seniors to lead a social and active lifestyle.

Costs of a CCRC

Designed as an upscale neighborhood with many amenities and services, CCRCs are very expensive. Most low and middle-income families will not be able to afford to send their elder loved one here. There is usually (but not always) an entrance fee that can range from $10,000 to $500,000 and a monthly maintenance fee that may be anywhere between $200 and $2,000.  The entrance fee is based on the size and type of unit, and may be refundable if the resident moves out or dies. CCRCs may offer a range of contract types for health care, ranging from unlimited access or a fee-for-service basis.

Because CCRCs are typically privately owned and most of the services provided are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, there is no federal requirement for accreditation. However, many CCRCs will seek accreditation from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA).

Benefits of a CCRC

Continuing care retirement communities are not for everyone. Some seniors simply do not want to move out of their homes and leave their communities to join a new one. Also, the transition from seeing people of all ages to being surrounded by a majority of elderly people is unappealing for some. Moving to a CCRC is a personal decision that should not be taken lightly.

Choosing a CCRC is more than just choosing a geographic location even though that is a very important factor. You want to make sure that your loved one will have the full range of amenities they are looking for. Not all CCRCs have nursing or memory care units, so that is something you will want to keep in mind while long-term planning. By visiting community websites, you may have access to reviews, pictures, and videos, but many CCRCs have guest housing so that you and your senior can spend some time in the community. This way, you will be able to taste the food, participate in some activities and talk with residents and staff before making a decision.

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