General Questions About CCRCs
- What is a continuing care retirement community?
- Why should I move to a CCRC if I’m in good health?
- Are there age requirements for a CCRC?
- Will I own my own home at a CCRC?
- What types of housing options are available?
- When should I begin considering a CCRC?
- Who determines when it’s time to transition to another level of care?
- Are CCRCs safe?
- Are pets allowed in a CCRC?
- Will I need a car while living in a continuing care retirement community?
The Costs of CCRCs
- What is the cost of living at a CCRC?
- What’s covered in my monthly fees?
- Will monthly fees increase?
- Are my utilities, television, and internet access included?
- How do people pay for life at a CCRC?
- What happens if I run out of money?
CCRCs Amenities and Services
- What’s included at a CCRC?
- What dining and food services are available?
- What recreational activities and social events are provided by a CCRC?
- What happens if my spouse and I need different levels of care?
General Questions About CCRCs
What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?
Many people mistakenly believe that a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is interchangeable with an assisted living community or a nursing home. However, CCRCs actually get their name from the concept that they offer residents a continuum of care over time. These communities provide a full range of health care, housing, and residential services to meet the needs of residents as they change over time. CCRCs usually include three main stages of care, including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. While residents may only need limited services when they enter the community, they have the option of receiving a higher level of care if needed.
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Why Should I Move to a CCRC if I’m in Good Health?
The best time to make your move to a CCRC is before you require health care. Most CCRCs actually require residents to be healthy, active adults when they first enter the community. Living in a continuing care retirement community takes away the burden of dealing with routine maintenance, appliance repair, and grounds maintenance so you have the chance to enjoy your active lifestyle as you pursue your interests and passions. You also have peace of mind knowing that you’ll receive the level of care you need if your health declines in the future.
Are There Age Requirements for a CCRC?
In most cases, CCRCs require residents to be a minimum of 55 years old, which is the age limit noted in the Fair Housing Act. However, it’s possible for certain communities to have even more stringent age requirements for residents, so it’s always important to check.
Will I Own My Own Home at a CCRC?
Whether you purchase or rent your residence will vary depending on the specific CCRC you choose. Some communities do allow you to actually purchase your residence in the community while others may offer you the ability to have equity in the residence you choose. If you are renting, remember that the monthly payment you pay not only covers the amount of your rent, but fees for services, amenities, and maintenance. Before making your move, check carefully to determine whether you will own your new home outright, have equity in it, or simply be renting the residence.
What Types of Housing Options are Available?
Housing options at continuing care retirement communities vary from community to community. For seniors are at the independent living level, options may include studio apartments, multiple-bedroom apartments, and even freestanding cottages. Of course, as your needs change, you may find that smaller apartments or rooms are easier for you to manage, but with a CCRC you have the ability to change your environment to fit your unique needs.
When Should I Begin Considering a CCRC?
The earlier you begin considering a CCRC the better. These communities are designed for seniors who are healthy and active enough to live independent, full lives. Most CCRCs offer premium recreational activities and amenities tailored to the desires of active seniors. Since these communities make it possible to move seamlessly from one kind of care to the next, it’s a flexible, comprehensive type of senior care that is a perfect option for seniors who want to enjoy their golden years without worrying about big moves or home and grounds maintenance in the future.
Who Determines When It’s Time to Transition to Another Level of Care?
This can vary based upon a CCRC’s policies and the contract you’ve signed. However, the decision to transition to another level of care is usually a joint decision made with the help of family members and a team of professionals, which may include a social worker, nurse, and physician. If you’re not satisfied with the decision, an appeal process is usually available to make sure you get the best care for your needs.
Are CCRCs Safe?
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, property crimes are higher for elderly adults, and among seniors reporting violent crimes, 59% report that they were victimized near or at their homes. This makes safety a huge concern for aging adults, particularly since criminals often target seniors who live alone. Most CCRCs are gated communities that offer 24-7 security personnel on-site to ensure that residents are safe and secure, another benefit of CCRCs that offers peace of mind for active adults.
Are Pets Allowed in a CCRC?
Pets can be very therapeutic for seniors, and many CCRCs are happy to welcome them into the community. However, some communities may have restriction on pet size, breed, and type, so ask about their policy if you want to bring your pet along with you. You may be required to pay additional deposits or fees, as well.
Will I Need a Car While Living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community?
Many CCRCs provide ample room for you to bring along your own vehicle, although this is a question you’ll want to ask before you choose a community. Even if you don’t have a vehicle, many communities will provide transportation to residents and public transportation may also be an option. Check with the communities you’re considering to see if they provide transportation and if you’ll be required to pay an extra fee for this service. You may also want to ask about parking arrangements if you want to bring your vehicle to the community.
The Costs of CCRCs
What is the Cost of Living at a CCRC?
According to the AARP, CCRCs are the most expensive long-term-care options available and they require both significant entrance fees and monthly charges. Entrance fees may range between $100,000 and $1 million, and this upfront sum prepays for your care and also gives the community the money it needs to operate.
Monthly charges for living in a CCRC range between $3,000 and $5,000, although these fees vary based upon the services and amenities you have, your health when entering the community, and the type of housing you choose.
Before choosing a CCRC, it’s always important to learn about the community’s entrance fees, monthly charges, and what’s covered in the fees you pay, since it’s possible for fees to increase as needs change. Learn more about the cost of living in a CCRC and the types of contracts you have to choose from before making your decision.
What’s Covered in My Monthly Fees?
What’s actually covered in your monthly fees will vary depending on the CCRC you choose. However, these fees generally cover the cost of your residence, landscaping maintenance, home maintenance, access to community amenities, and security. For additional, high-end amenities, you may be required to pay additional fees.
Will Monthly Fees Increase?
In some cases, monthly fees are locked when you sign the contract for your CCRC. However, many CCRCs increase monthly fees annually. When comparing CCRCs, find out if fees are raised annually or if fees are randomly raised throughout the year. Ask about any caps on fee increases as well.
Are My Utilities, Television, and Internet Access Included?
Most CCRCs are already wired for some type of TV and many of them provide WiFi as well. Utilities and communications are often included in your monthly fees, but you should check with the specific community to see if these options are included or if you’ll need to subscribe for them independently.
How Do People Pay for Life at a CCRC?
In most cases, residents fund the move from their home to a CCRC by selling their home and through the use of investments and retirement accounts. Applicants are generally required to prove that they have the means to meet entrance fees and monthly fees before they move into the community. In most cases, Medicaid and Medicare cannot be used to fund life in a CCRC. However, Medicare, and in some cases Medicaid, may be used to help fund the cost of specific services according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
What Happens if I Run Out of Money?
Many CCRCs have special funds in place to assist residents who run out of money due to no fault of their own. Most communities want to do everything possible to help you stay in place and continue receiving services. However, this is an important question to ask before you choose a community, since some places will require you to move if you can no longer pay for services.
CCRCs Amenities and Services
What’s Included at a CCRC?
A continuing care retirement community is designed to offer multiple levels of senior care as its needed, so CCRCs offer a wide range of services. Services range from assisted living and independent living to memory care and skilled nursing. Services and amenities vary from community to community, and certain services may require you to pay additional fees. Some of the services and amenities often included at CCRCs include:
- Dining services
- Local transportation
- Fitness centers
- Laundry services
- Educational opportunities
- Memory care
- Security systems
- On-site security
- Scheduled activities and entertainment
- Grounds maintenance
- On-site medical services
What Dining and Food Services are Available?
When you’re a part of the independent living side of a CCRC, you’ll probably have the ability to cook your own meals in your residence. However, some CCRCs do provide restaurants, snack bars, and food delivery services for your convenience. Some smaller communities may have dining halls, and then if you need to move on to a higher level of care, such as assisted living or skilled nursing care, other dining options will be available based upon your needs.
What Recreational Activities and Social Events are Provided by a CCRC?
Since CCRCs are designed for active seniors, they generally provide a variety of recreational and social opportunities. These activities and events vary, but they can include book clubs, continuing education classes, movies, sports, fitness clubs, holiday celebrations, and more. Check the social calendar at communities you’re considering to find out what types of activities are offered to determine whether you find them appealing.
What Happens if My Spouse and I Need Different Levels of Care?
The goal of most CCRCs is to keep couples together whenever possible as they receive personalized health and personal services within the community. When one couple requires a higher level of care, one option may be to remain in an independent living home while receiving the additional assistance through home care. However, there may be cases when other options need to be considered if your spouse requires skilled nursing care for more serious injuries or health problems.
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