Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Every month Chris and I explore another option in your Care Arsenal, and this month we will help you understand what Continuing Care Retirement Communities are. For short, we call these types of care communities “CCRC’s.”

Sometimes CCRC’s are called Life-Care Communities. A CCRC is a retirement community that covers a full range of aging services and levels of care, from independent living cottages or apartments to assisted living housing, to full-blown skilled nursing services. In most cases, each change in care-level requires a move to new living quarters. The different levels of care may all be housed on different floors of a high-rise building or in different wings or buildings across a single campus.

Independent living is usually the entry-level for most residents. The idea is that residents enjoy a higher quality of life in a community of peers with similar life experiences. Independent living residents experience maintenance-free housing and landscaping, housekeeping services, and sometimes even congregational meals in a restaurant-style dining room. A variety of activities and opportunities abound for those who enjoy hobbies, concerts, games, dances, and even excursions.

As the resident begins to need assistance with personal care needs like bathing, toileting or walking, they must move into the Assisted Living section of the CCRC. This area has more of a nursing presence and closer supervision of the residents. CNA’s, Home Health Aides, or Nurse Aides will assist with those personal care items that need help. With this transition usually comes a higher monthly cost.

Skilled Nursing Assistance is the highest level of care provided in CCRC’s. You would probably think of this as a Nursing Home, but still on the campus. It will have the highest monthly cost for the resident, but it provides constant nursing supervision of the resident. Frequently when a couple resides in a CCRC, and one spouse needs Skilled Nursing Services, the other spouse will need to remain at their current level of care unless both require the same level of care. It is sad when a couple married 60+ years must live separately because of the declining health of one.

Payment options for CCRC’s vary greatly. There are many models that may apply. Some require a large sum of money for an entry fee, but remain relatively consistent with the monthly residential fee, even when levels of care increase. Others require a minimal entry fee, but the resident is in a “pay as you go” program where every level of care costs significantly more than the one before.

You might want to check out Genworth’s Cost of Care resource: https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html

So that’s more or less the rundown on CCRC’s. They can be very expensive but can also be very enjoyable for the socially active retiree. Be sure to ask lots of questions and understand the contract and its requirements. If your loved one has dementia, or if you suspect they might, be sure to ask if the CCRC has a Memory Care facility. That’s also critically important to know. Finally, ask if they allow private duty caregivers in their facilities, and how they screen and track those individuals. Arm yourself with knowledge and visit several times throughout the year before you decide to commit so that you can experience lots of different seasons and conditions within the community. The more you know, the better the decision you can make.

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