Continuing Care Retirement Communities


Retirement Community and Facility Types

Continuing Care Retirement Communities are designed for healthy people who are looking for security. They meet the needs of seniors who don’t want additional worries about where they are going to live as they grow older and how they are going to cope with potential future illness or the frailty of extreme old age. If you move to a CCRC you know you can continue to live in the same development no matter what happens to your health — and you know how much it is going to cost to take care of you.

A CCRC usually offers seniors a contract or contracts that provide residential living and various health care services for more than one year or the balance their life. Such facilities are also known as Life Care Communities. Residents in such facilities enjoy an independent lifestyle with the knowledge that if they become sick or frail, their needs will continue to be met.

A good reason to choose to move into a CCRC sooner rather than later is that you must be capable of living independently when you move in. If an accident or illness makes it impossible for you to live without help, then the CCRC option will probably be closed to you.

There are two defining characteristics of a CCRC. First, it provides a continuum of care that includes housing, services, and health care. That does not mean that all three levels of care (independent living, assisted living, and nursing care) are provided. Nursing care is always available, either on- or off-site, but assisted living is not always included.

The second defining characteristic is a contractual agreement between the resident and the CCRC that guarantees these services (or at least access to these services) for a minimum of one year, but usually for the lifetime of the resident. The contract may be set up in a variety of ways. The most common type of contract is an entrance-fee contract. Whether the contract is an extensive, modified, or fee-for-service type of entrance-fee contract, the resident pays a lump-sum entrance fee plus monthly fees.

Another type of CCRC contract involves an equity agreement where the resident purchases a condominium or cooperative unit instead of paying an entrance fee. In a third, but less common, type of CCRC contract, residents pay monthly fees only.

A key point to remember in distinguishing continuing care retirement communities with the many “look-alikes” is that CCRCs have a contract that guarantees services and care for an extended period of time.

CCRCs offer a great sense of community and residents often speak of themselves as being part of an extended family. Although nobody is obliged to participate in the community’s programs, there is often an array of social activities and facilities. They often have exercise equipment, and programs and classes in which to use them. Woodworking shops, hobby shops, greenhouses, and craft shops can be found in many CCRCs. Some are near country clubs with golf and tennis facilities. All have buses to take residents to whatever activities interest them, such as concerts, sporting events, and shopping.

You can search for accredited continuing care retirement communities by going to the web site for CARF International. To search for an accredited CCRC by state, click here. Select a city, state or zip code. Where is says “Program,” select Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Then click “search.”

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