What is a continuing care retirement community? - The Explorer: Aging Well

What is a continuing care retirement community?

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Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 4:00 am | Updated: 10:16 am, Wed Aug 27, 2014.

For more than 50 years, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) have been one of the top lifestyle choices for older adults across the country. CCRCs are popular because they offer exceptional value and protection against the high costs of long-term care. 

A Continuum of Care

At a CCRC, a person’s independent lifestyle is enhanced by access to a wide variety of services and amenities. But what really sets CCRCs apart from other retirement options is the contractual commitment to provide a full continuum of care onsite. CCRCs typically offer up to four levels of living accommodations: independent living, assisted living, memory support, and skilled nursing care, with the cost of such care either partially or fully covered by the entrance and monthly fees. (And spouses who need different levels of care can continue to live in the same community.) CCRCs are regulated by the State Department of Insurance to ensure long-term financial stability of the community.

Most rental communities do not offer the CCRC contractual commitment to provide a continuum of care like that mentioned above. At many rental communities in the area, people who need such care must make their own arrangements, and then often move to receive the care—with no discount on the cost. 

In addition to guaranteed access to the care continuum, major benefits of a CCRC include a strong sense of community, the peace of mind knowing you have planned for future care should it be needed, spacious residences, a comprehensive services and amenities package, a built-in social network, and a maintenance-free lifestyle.

How a CCRC Works

A CCRC asks for a one-time entry fee—of which the majority is typically refundable to you, your children or your estate—and then monthly cost-of-living fees. In exchange, as a CCRC resident, one can “age in place” while enjoying a fulfilling, worry-free lifestyle—knowing that guaranteed, in-house care is available, if ever needed. 

How to Make the Right Choice

If you are considering a CCRC, you will of course ask about amenities and services, view the private apartments or homes, and see what types of activities and lifestyle are offered. However, because of the refundable investment you’ll be making, you should also thoroughly investigate the financial health of the CCRC organization or owner to ensure it is financially secure, well-run, and with stable management in place.

You should also review all available plans, and ensure that you completely understand your financial obligations and what is included for your monthly fee. You might also ask:

How much are the monthly fees adjusted if more services or care are required?

What is the CCRC’s history of monthly fee increases?

What happens if the fee increase is greater than the ability to pay?

Is the entrance fee refundable and, if so, how much and when?

A CCRC Right in Your Backyard

A local example of a CCRC, Splendido is an all-inclusive community in Tucson for those 55 and better. Splendido residents enjoy priority access to Sonora at Splendido, an onsite health center, so they can enjoy a beautiful, spacious Terrace or Villa Home and maintain a worry-free lifestyle—with no concerns about having to plan to accommodate health care needs that may arise. This access to quality health care right onsite and protection for residents against the high cost of tomorrow’s health care expenses are important benefits not offered by ownership communities. The combination of services and amenities, including interior and exterior maintenance, housekeeping, transportation, and recreational, social, and dining services for an all-inclusive monthly fee, is a feature unique to CCRCs like Splendido. 

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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