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Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC): What You Need to Know

November 22, 2021

Continuing Care Retirement Communities are an excellent retirement option for senior family members. To learn more about CCRCs, we suggest that you keep on reading.

What are Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)?

CCRCs are residential care communities. They incorporate many elements from other residential care facilities and consolidate those in a community. Think of it like a campus where you can get different levels of care depending on your needs.

CCRCs want their residents to have all that they need, regardless of the level of care they require. The best part is that residents do not need to go from one facility to another. This reduces the stress involved in moving and living your retirement.

6 Levels of Care Offered in Continuing Care

Now that you have a brief introduction to continuing care retirement communities, it's time to know more about the levels of care to expect in CCRCs.

Home Care

Living in a CCRC means that you may need to rent or purchase a property within the community. However, some facilities also offer continuing care for elderlies who prefer to stay in their homes.

Also called a "home care model," it allows the community members to stay within the comforts of their home while receiving care assistance from the facility.

Designated Supportive Living

Designated supportive living is a level of CCRC care that provides accommodation to its residents. This includes meals and health support to members who live in their homes or within the retirement community.

It's similar to an assisted living facility, except that they accept Medicaid waivers. In addition, the designated supportive living is state-regulated.

Long-Term Care

If your senior family member's medical needs are more complex, staying at home to recuperate is out of the question. This is where long-term care, provided by CCRCs, can come in handy.

For example, a nursing home offers higher levels of healthcare. But this means that the elderly have to live away from their homes and within the care facilities.

Skilled Nursing Care

Some CCRCs provide skilled nursing facilities to those who need temporary medical or custodial care.

Skilled nursing facilities offer 24/7 healthcare, but these are usually on a short-term basis. They primarily focus on rehabilitative care, so patients will likely return to their homes once they fully recuperate.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is when a senior's level of care has increased, but there is still a desire to be as independent as possible. These are people with declining overall health due to aging, illness, or injury. Yet, they can manage to do some stuff themselves like feeding and bathing.

Memory Care

Some CCRCs offer services to those struggling with memory loss due to dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and many more.

If a senior family member suffers from such cognitive impairments, you can consider going to a CCRC with memory care facilities.

Memory care facilities usually have specialized staff experienced in handling those who have dementia or Alzheimer's.

Rental CCRC vs. Life Care CCRC

There are two types of continuing care retirement communities: Rental CCRCs and life care CCRCs. Before choosing your preferred CCRC, here are a few things to know about these two types of CCRCs.

Rental CCRC

Rental CCRCs have a monthly rental fee, as the name suggests. You pay an overall monthly payment based on the level of care you need. The higher the level of care that you need, the higher the monthly rent will be.

The costs of your rental fee with a CCRC will depend on what your care needs are for the month. For example, your rental price will be lower if you used a skilled nursing facility last month but are now back to independent living for this month.

Life Care CCRC

A Life Care CCRC also charges a monthly fee like a rental CCRC. However, before you start living in a life care CCRC, you first have to pay an upfront fee.

The upfront fee will depend on various things, such as the Life Care contract that you choose. Its purpose is to help cover additional costs needed for further healthcare assistance.

Pros and Cons of Living in a CCRC

A CCRC has its advantages and disadvantages, which you should both consider before moving into one. Let's first start with the benefits.

Advantages of Living in a CCRC

  • The flexibility of levels of care in one campus for partners that need different levels of health or personal care.
  • Staying in a CCRC has some potential tax benefits. 
  • Access to multiple levels of care in one place without having to move around constantly.
  • A built-in community that helps increase chances of social engagement for seniors.
  • Amenities and social activities are provided in the community.

Disadvantages of Living in a CCRC

  • The monthly service fees can be costly.
  • For Life Care CCRCs, the upfront fee is also expensive.
  • Contracts are pretty complex, so there is a need for the help of a financial advisor and a lawyer.
  • Members don't own their residence in the CCRC as they are only paying to live there. 
  • If a CCRC goes bankrupt, members could have a substantial financial loss.

What Services Do CCRCs Provide?

CCRCs provide a variety of services for their members. Here is a list of what you should expect:

Professional Health Services

Different levels of care are available on site.

You can get specialized memory care as well as the usual physician and nursing care. You can also have physical and occupational therapy provided by skilled nursing facilities.

Other services include dentists, pharmacies, and more.

Commercial Services

A variety of commercial services can be available within the CCRC. Examples would be retail stores, restaurant café, banks, and many more.

Community and Other Services

CCRCs provide amenities that encourage a better sense of community as well as socialization. Amenities provided in a CCRC also aim to create an environment of wellness and health, even for more independent seniors.

As such, one can expect a variety of services in the CCRC, such as:

  • Hiking trails
  • Pools
  • Library
  • Game rooms
  • Tennis courts
  • Greenhouse or Community Gardens
  • Fitness centers

When Should a Senior Move Into a Continuing Care Community?

For example, your aging parent has thought of retirement. They can consider living in a CCRC.

But what if a senior family member deems themselves healthy and capable of taking care of themselves? Well, the great thing about a CCRC is that you don't need to move into it when you experience your health degrading.

You can move into a CCRC any time because they also provide independent living for seniors. Therefore, if you have the budget and have planned things thoroughly, you can move into a CCRC whenever you want.

However, it's best to plan before you move into a CCRC. This includes talking with family, financial advisor, and lawyer before you make the decision.

What to Look for in a CCRC?

The first thing to consider when looking for a CCRC would be the contract. You want to ensure you understand the agreements you are getting yourself into before moving into a CCRC.

After the contract, it's a good idea to ask for the CCRC's disclosure statement as well as their financial figures. If their income is lower than their expenses, that is a massive cause for concern.

Lastly, you can start looking into the advanced care they provide, the amenities in the community, as well as the community itself.

A Brief Description of the Basic CCRC Contracts

Since CCRC contracts are critical to your decisions for staying in them, let's have a brief look at the basic CCRC contracts to expect.

Extensive Life-Care Contract (Type A)

The Type A contract gives you a full range of all the services that a CCRC provides. The CCRC should provide everything to you with little or no additional costs. However, this contract is usually the most expensive choice.

Modified Contract (Type B)

Type B contract has a limit on the services offered to you. Although you have unlimited access to healthcare, you will still pay for it through the monthly maintenance fee. However, the CCRC would usually offer health care with discounts.

Fee-for-Service Contract

Fee-for-service contracts have a low enrollment fee. However, moving forward, they would have to pay for whatever services they may need in the future separately. This contract can be cheap at first, but if you have health care needs in the future, the costs can rack up quite a bit.

Other Contract Types

Type D contracts are rental contracts, while Type E contracts are an agreement between you and the CCRC to purchase a share of your residence.

Given the many different contract types, it's best to have a lawyer with you before signing anything.

What Makes Continuing Care Retirement Communities Different From Other Retirement Options?

The unique thing about CCRC is that it helps reduce the stress of addressing a senior's declining health.

Sure, they would need professional medical attention. However, they do not want to feel uprooted.

Good things a CCRC provides a sense of community and the feeling that an elderly can still be within the comfort of their home.

It might be a costlier retirement option, but it certainly helps you cover a variety of your needs as a senior.

Conclusion

Now that you know more about CCRCs, you should better understand whether this retirement option is for you.

Remember to figure out your needs and preferences as an elderly. Ask your family's opinion and consult a financial adviser and lawyer to cover your bases.

But, who knows? Living in a continuing care retirement community may allow you to enjoy your retirement days.

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