A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is an ideal senior-living option for those planning to “age in place.” A typical CCRC offers several housing choices, as part of a continuum of care. These generally include independent living, assisted living,Skilled nursing (also known as nursing homes),and, sometimes, memory-care units. They can be the most expensive accommodations for aging adults, but they can be worth the cost. Residents have the flexibility to expand and change services as needed, without having to move to a new community. Care is individualized, and therefore it is more precise.
Most community operators encourage residents to socialize, offering numerous education and entertainment programs. Other basic services may include the following:
- health care services
- meal preparation
- personal care and hygiene
- emergency assistance
3 Common CCRC Contract Types
- Extensive – Also called life contracts, extensive contracts are the most expensive because they include health care services and assisted living with no additional fees.
- Modified contract – A modified contract is similar to an extensive contract, except health care services are limited. If a resident needs additional services, he or she is charged a separate fee.
- Fee per service – This contract is less expensive initially. However, residents are charged for services on an as-needed basis.
Selecting the Right Community
It’s important to note the financial health of any prospective CCRC. These communities are very costly to maintain and tend to cut resident services when they are struggling financially. You want to ensure that this is not going to be a problem for your loved one in the future. An easy way to determine if a community is financially stable is to check residency rates. Such rates should be at or near capacity to maintain financial wellness.
Do some research online as well. Medicare.gov can provide ratings for skilled nursing facilities, as do individual state’s long term care ombudsmen. And there are a number of resources available to help you through the evaluation process.
Compare the costs to the cost for maintaining your loved one in their current home. Costs like transportation, companion care, housekeeping, transportation, meals, and medication assistance when added to mortgage or rent costs can end up being the same or more as a CCRC, so don’t automatically assume a CCRC is out of their budget range. Also consider if the community has an “entrance fee,” a one-time up-front payment and whether that is partially refundable. And don’t be afraid to ask what the annual increase is so that can be factored into your loved one’s budget.
If possible, spend a few days in a community observing and assessing it. Some important factors to consider include the following:
- The property – Is the facility properly maintained? Check the interior and exterior of the community. Does it feel like home, or does it seem institutional? It should be comfortable and homey so your loved one is at ease.
- The residents – Speak with the residents. Inquire about their experiences in the community. Are they happy with the services? Do they have issues or complaints? Do they feel as though it is a good value? Most importantly, are these residents the type of people whom you want as friends and neighbors?
- The staff – Speak with the staff to determine if they are friendly and genuinely caring. Ask to see licenses and credentials. Look at recent inspection reports. Make sure to inquire about any complaint investigations.
Finding the right community for your loved one is crucial to his or her happiness and well-being. Take your time with this endeavor. Above all, trust your instincts. If something feels “wrong” with a community, simply scratch it off your list and move on.
CCRCs offer wonderful senior-living solutions. As always, due diligence is the key to selecting the right services for your aging loved ones.