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About Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Learn what they are and how they work

En español | When your parent or loved one decides they’re ready to move from the family home, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) may be worth considering. Offering a variety of services within one community, CCRCs guarantee lifetime housing, social activities and increased levels of care as needs change. These features, however, do come with a price. Learn more about CCRCs to decide whether they’re right for your loved one.

See also: Retirement communities bring in the kids.

What CCRCs Are
Part independent living, part assisted living and part skilled nursing home, CCRCs offer a tiered approach to the aging process, accommodating residents’ changing needs. Upon entering, healthy adults can reside independently in single-family homes, apartments or condominiums. When assistance with everyday activities becomes necessary, they can move into assisted living or nursing care facilities. These communities give older adults the option to live in one location for the duration of their life, with much of their future care already figured out. This can provide a great level of comfort to both your parents and you and take much of the stress out of the caregiving relationship.

What CCRCs Cost
The most expensive of all long-term-care options, CCRCs require a hefty entrance fee as well as monthly charges. Entrance fees can range from $100,000 to $1 million — an upfront sum to prepay for care as well as to provide the facility money to operate. Monthly charges can range from $3,000 to $5,000, but may increase as needs change. These fees are dependent on a variety of factors including the health of your loved one(s), the type of housing they choose, whether they rent or buy, the number of residents living in the facility and the type of service contract. Additional fees may be incurred for other options including housekeeping, meal service, transportation and social activities.

Types of Contracts
There are three basic types of contracts for CCRCs:

  • Life Care or Extended Contract: This is the most expensive option, but offers unlimited assisted living, medical treatment and skilled nursing care without additional charges.
  • Modified Contract: This contract offers a set of services provided for a set length of time. When that time is expired, other services can be obtained, but for higher monthly fees.
  • Fee-for-Service Contract: The initial enrollment fee may be lower, but assisted living and skilled nursing will be paid for at their market rates.

It is very important to review with your loved one each option as well as the long-term financial plan to support them. Often, charges above and beyond the entrance cost and monthly fees arise. Ensure that everyone understands just how much money will be needed to support this housing option.

Also, make sure the facility they are considering will be financially viable over the long term. Get assurance that 10 to 15 years down the road your loved one’s CCRC will still be operating and able to provide them with the care they’ve already paid for.

Where to Begin
Help your loved ones research CCRCs in their area and offer to accompany them on visits. While there, investigate thoroughly and meet with a representative who can walk them through the different housing options, cost structures and contract choices. Here is a checklist of things to look out for and ask while you’re visiting.

If your loved one decides on a CCRC, suggest that they request a weekend or week-long stay at the facility to ensure it’s the right choice for them. Once they are ready to commit, run the contract by an attorney to be sure everything is spelled out as it was agreed upon with the facility.

Other Tips

  • If your parents are considering a CCRC as a couple, be sure they understand what will happen if one of them needs a higher level of care or dies, or if their circumstances dramatically change. Investigate whether there are circumstances where they can get a refund or leave any of their entrance fee to their estate should a change be necessary.
  • When visiting, spend ample time visiting each part of the facility, regardless of whether your parent or loved one is in perfect health. Chances are they will need assisted living or nursing care at some point.
  • Make sure they see all financial reports, licensing and inspection reports and any complaint investigations.

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