Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are sometimes called life care communities. Entering one is usually a once-in-a-lifetime choice and that’s the appeal. Many have large campuses that include separate housing for those who live very independently, assisted living facilities that offer more support, and nursing homes for those needing skilled nursing care. With all on the same grounds, people who are relatively active, as well as those who have serious physical and mental disabilities, all live nearby. Residents then move from one housing choice to another as their needs change.
While usually very expensive, many guarantee lifetime shelter and care with long-term contracts that detail the housing and care obligations of the CCRC as well as its costs.
A wide variety of independent living units may be available: large and small apartments, cottages, cluster homes, or single-family homes. In addition to usual features, they may include grab bars, a monitored emergency call system and other safety features. Residents of these units are usually active, older people.
Assisted living units may be small studio or one-bedroom apartments with scaled down kitchens. These may have group dining areas and common areas for social and recreational activities. Residents typically need some assistance in daily living activities but also want some independence.
Nursing home accommodations are usually furnished one-room units for two or more persons with an attached bathroom. Residents require skilled nursing care (short term or long term) and may benefit from rehabilitative therapy to maintain or improve their abilities.
The costs of living in a CCRC can be quite high and unaffordable to those with low or moderate incomes and assets. Most communities require an entrance fee and monthly payments. These fees can range from lows of $20,000 to highs of $400,000. Monthly payments can range from $200 to $2,500. In some places, residents own their living space, and in others the space is rented. In some communities, the entrance fee may be partially refundable. Frequently three different fee schedules may be available:
Extensive contracts, which include unlimited long-term nursing care at little or no increase in the monthly fee.
Modified contracts that include a specified amount of long-term nursing care. Beyond that specified time, you are responsible for payments.
Fee-for-service contracts in which you pay full daily rates for long-term nursing care.
Some CCRCs are affiliated with a specific ethnic, religious, or fraternal order, and membership may be a requirement. The majority of CCRCs require potential residents to have a medical examination to assess their physical and mental status. Selected pre-existing conditions may cause a CCRC to refuse an applicant. Some CCRCs require residents to have both Medicare Part A and B. Naturally, residents must be able to meet the entrance fee and monthly payments.