Continuing Care Retirement Homes: Right for You?

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are unique because they are the most flexible senior housing option. You can tailor your experience by choosing:

  • Seniors exercising at a Continuing Care Retirement homeWhat you pay for
  • How and when you pay for those services
  • Whether you’ll own or rent your unit
  • Whether you want a roommate
  • Whether you prefer to live alone
  • Which activities, if any, you choose to partake in
  • What you want to eat
  • Whether you’d like to cook or be served

This type of tailored experience means that residents at the same continuing care retirement community might all have very different experiences. CCRCs are all about choices–and the more choices, the better, right?

Well, the answer to that depends on you. Having many choices can be great. But it also means you’ll have to make many decisions about what’s right for you when you decide to enter into a contract with a continuing care retirement home.

Things to Consider

Some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a continuing care retirement home include:

  • Location - Consider the location of the community, and of the unit that you would rent or purchase. Do you feel comfortable in the neighborhood?
  • Services - Most continuing care retirement communities offer all kinds of healthcare, personal care, social and convenience services. Does the community offer the services that are most important to you? Are these services offered regularly? Are they included in your fees, or do they cost extra?
  • Amenities - What amenities are offered on site? Many communities have beauty salons, fitness centers, computer rooms and outdoor gardens or patios on campus. Do the on-site amenities meet your requirements?
  • Quality of Care - Ask about the community’s plan in the event of a medical emergency or hospitalization. If the community is Medicare- or Medicaid-certified, look into its service history using the Nursing Home Compare application on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website.
  • Cost - Can you comfortably afford the entrance or buy-in fee, monthly fees and other regular costs while maintaining your insurance premiums? Or would it be a stretch? If it’s a stretch now, it’s not likely to become easier to pay later on.
  • Community Culture - Before you sign a continuing care retirement contract, it is imperative to visit the facility in person, preferably several times, and at different times of day. Ideally, you would be able to stay overnight or for a few nights to “try on” community living, meet potential neighbors, eat a few meals and get a feel for the culture.
  • Living Arrangements - Would you live alone, with a spouse, or a roommate? If it’s the latter, would you be able to choose your roommate? Are you comfortable with that situation?
  • Community’s Financial Status - Consider the community’s financial health. After all, entering into any continuing care retirement contract involves a serious financial investment on your part. The community is responsible for demonstrating its ability to weather financial difficulties and meet your increasing needs as you age.

Consider the Alternatives

If you’re still not sure whether continuing care retirement living is right for you, then consider your other options. Most CCRC applicants enter at the independent living or assisted living level. Depending on your needs, you should evaluate your options at the independent or assisted living facilities in your area, and compare them against the factors above. A continuing care retirement community may not be for everyone, but it can certainly be a wise investment if it makes sense for you.

Written by senior housing writer Nikki Jong.