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Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are similar to traditional retirement communities in that they offer housing, services and amenities to residents 55 years or older. The notable difference is that CCRCs provide health care services; they will likely have an on-site nursing center or Alzheimer’s care unit so residents may age in place.
A continuing care retirement community (or CCRC), also sometimes referred to as life care retirement community, provides several levels of care to assist seniors as they age. A typical CCRC will offer independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care together in one location. Residents are able to transfer from one type of care to another as their healthcare needs and desires change, and this model can minimize the disruption to an aging loved one.
Continuing care communities allow seniors the ability to choose whichever housing option suits them best. Independent living options usually include apartments, cottages or single-family homes. They are meant for seniors who are independent and do not need constant care or supervision. Residents can come and go as they please, and enjoy active lifestyles.
Assisted living residents generally live in small apartments with shared dining and common areas. Residents are assigned one or more staff members to attend to their daily needs and help with common chores such as laundry, bathing, basic hygiene and light housekeeping. Recreational activities and programs are scheduled for the enjoyment of the residents.
Skilled nursing care is provided on site to treat residents recovering from short-term conditions. The facilities are also equipped with medical personnel and accommodations to support residents who require long-term, intensive, round-the-clock medical care as well.
Continuing care allows residents the convenience of having all of the healthcare and support services they may need in one primary location. They can easily transition from one residential care setting to another, sometimes provided in the same location or by simply moving into a nearby building. Seniors maintain the stability of familiar surroundings and continuity of healthcare from one team of providers. Families are not burdened with finding new housing and healthcare services should their loved one’s needs change over time.
The costs associated with continuing care can be very high. Most communities have several payment options that offer varying levels of service and price. A lifetime contract requires the greatest payment and commitment initially, but guarantees unlimited care for a resident as much and as long as necessary.
A modified contract offers medium-level payment in exchange for a specified period in which long-term nursing care will be provided by the CCRC. After the period has expired, residents and their families will become responsible for any outstanding expenses.
Some communities allow “a la carte” pricing in which residents pay only for the services they use at fixed daily rates. If a senior does not need intensive care, this plan is the most economical. But if a resident has extensive medical needs and requires long-term nursing care, this option can become very expensive.
Written by senior housing writer Jacqui Howell.