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What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

Today’s seniors have access to more types of care than ever – and that's a good thing. CCRCs are one of the most ideal types for those who want as close to a home setting as they can get. This is a form of independent living, but it also incorporates part skilled nursing care and assisted living services. These locations vary to some degree, though. Some offer a tiered program where the amount and type of services desired are obtained. If an individual needs more services over the long term, they can obtain them.

Perhaps the most desirable component of a CCRC is that healthy adults can live within these communities in a single-family home or apartment. Some are condo developments. They live independently if they want to or can. This creates a high level of independence and quality of life. Over time, when they begin to need help, it is there for them. They may move to an assisted living or skilled nursing area as their needs change.

CCRCs give seniors the ability to live within the same community through their life. Adults remain comfortable and familiar with the people, surroundings, and the services. They maintain the same quality of life, activities, and interactions with their neighbors. Again, this improves quality of life and directly helps seniors to feel more comfortable and at ease. It also helps family members to know their loved one isn’t moving from one location to the next and is maintaining the same level of care.

Services offered include health services, meals, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, and emergency help. In addition, the communities are chock full of social and educational activities.

Because CCRCs are an “all-in-one”, there is a greater level of comfort for residents. And children of the parents enjoy a greater peace of mind knowing that all their parents' needs from housekeeping to medical care are taken care of.

How Are CCRCs Different Than Other Retirement Options?

The most important difference here is that CCRCs recognize that many seniors want to live as independently as they have the rest of their life. For example, a senior may find himself living alone after a spouse dies. He or she still can perform the necessary tasks of living on his own but is alone most of the time. To remedy this, the individual can move into the independent living component of a CCRC. There, he or she can maintain the same hobbies and interests enjoyed previously but nearby to those who can help when there is a need. They get to know the area, the people, and their neighbors.

As that senior gets older, he or she may find that tasks like cutting the grass or mopping the floors are a bit too hard to do. This is when moving into or utilizing the assisted living components of the CCRC becomes necessary. Unlike in a traditional assisted living community, the senior already knows the community and the people. He or she is not moving away from the same community into a new one, just into a different area (in some cases) or getting a bit more help when they need it.

And, when there is a need, seniors are then able to move into the onsite nursing facility component. Again, they maintain the same quality of life and stay in familiar areas. This improves the overall quality of life.

Overall, this type of location offers customizable services to fit the needs of the individual at that point in their life. This ensures the very best level of care is always available when there is a need.

What Services Are Offered in CCRCs?

When living in a CCRC, individuals choose the amount and type of services they desire based on their needs. These communities can provide just about any of the care a senior needs over his or her lifetime. This includes health services including medical needs (in the skilled nursing component). It also includes all personal care such as toileting, bathing, and personal hygiene. Some individuals will obtain housekeeping services.

Most often, CCRCs also ensure there is emergency medical help readily available to the individual who needs it. This can provide instant peace of mind for anyone living in the property.

Residents also benefit from added services such as transportation to their appointments, to go shopping, or to other locations. They also can enjoy various programs such as social activities, educational activities, and outings. These differ from one location to the next. However, because these are full communities with numerous amenities to offer residents at all levels, they tend to offer more of the versatile needs that residents want.

Residents benefit here because they choose what they need and want. They can count on having all the care they need, though, if there is a time in their life where it becomes necessary.

Types of CCRC Contracts

In general, CCRCs have three main types of contracts with a fourth (rental) occasionally available.

  • Extensive or Life Contracts (Type A) are the priciest because they generally include unlimited assisted living and health services with little or no extra fee.

  • Modified Contracts (Type B) provide similar services to Type A except that only some health services are included in the initial monthly fee. If a resident's needs exceed those fees, then they are charged market rates for services.

  • Fee-for-Service Contracts (Type C) offers a lower initial enrollment fee, but residents pay market rates for health care services on an “as needed” basis.

  • Rental Agreements (Type D) usually require no entrance fee but guarantee access to CCRC services on an “as needed” basis.

How does one go about selecting the right CCRC?

As a senior real estate specialist, I am privileged to work with many compassionate professionals dedicated to assisting our older population with the many challenges they and their families face. There are many elder care consultants in the San Gabriel Valley but one of my favorites is Gently Guided. Please visit their website for additional information.

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