Many older adults would prefer to age in place, but concerns like dementia, medical needs, and isolation may make this a challenge. For seniors who value familiarity and routine yet find themselves needing to transition to senior living, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) may strike the right balance.
CCRCs incorporate accommodations for independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care, meaning an aging adult can spend the rest of their life in the same setting, even if the level of care they require fluctuates. This can minimize stress for seniors and families, as well as empower older adults to form close, long-term bonds with community residents and staff.
“CCRCs are great for people who only want to move once,” says Kyla Jones, regional manager at A Place for Mom. “They do have to move to a different area, but it’s ultimately the same place.”
When choosing a CCRC, it’s important to consider available services, costs, and benefits to determine if this all-in-one senior living approach best fits your loved one’s lifestyle and needs.
To be considered a CCRC, a retirement community must offer independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care all in one campus, allowing residents to move between care types if their health or ability to be independent changes. Acute care services, such as short-term physical therapy and rehabilitation following an injury, typically takes place at nearby hospitals.
You may hear one of these other terms used to describe a CCRC:
As one of the most personalized types of senior living, life plan communities vary significantly. Living spaces can include houses, cottages, clusters, townhouses, duplexes, and apartments.
Despite these different settings, most CCRCs share the following common amenities and features:
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Why choose a continuing care facility for yourself or your loved one?
In addition to offering an engaging, community-centered lifestyle and many senior living activities, continuing care can be a particularly helpful option for couples with different medical needs. Spouses may not be able to live in the same apartment unit, but they’ll be nearby and can eat and socialize together.
While monthly maintenance contracts differ based on a senior’s specific retirement community, most CCRCs provide several services older adults need and value, such as:
However, life plan communities aren’t right for everyone. Determining health care options for the rest of your life and committing to lifelong financial obligations is a big decision, one some families might not be ready to make. Residents need to be comfortable with both the health care continuum and the monetary responsibility of living in a CCRC.
Due to their commitment to care for seniors at various stages in the aging journey, CCRCs can come with different costs than other types of senior living. For instance, communities typically require a large entry fee, with amounts ranging from as little as $10,000 to as much as $500,000.
“CCRCs are more expensive than other types of senior living and often start with a large buy-in,” Jones says. “They will also sometimes advance people up to a higher level of care, like assisted living to a skilled nursing facility, sooner than a community that doesn’t offer skilled nursing.”
Residents must also pay a monthly maintenance fee, which can range from roughly $200 to more than $2,000. A contract between the resident and the CCRC spells out what the monthly maintenance fee covers, as well as health care coverage and costs.
When you commit to a CCRC, you usually sign a continuing care agreement. A lawyer or financial advisor should review this document first, as it’s a legal contract between the resident and the CCRC. The continuing care agreement should cover:
There are typically three fee schedule options at a CCRC:
CCRCs may also offer residents a certain number of skilled care days each month without raising the monthly maintenance fee. This is sometimes part of the modified contract schedule option.
Based on these high entry costs, CCRCs may appear more expensive on the surface. However, they can reduce common senior living expenses, including repeated moving costs, move-in fees at multiple communities, and the price of some health care services. Ultimately, these life care communities can provide peace of mind for seniors wanting to find a safe, long-term home.
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Beyond the continuing care agreement, potential residents should fully explore the details of each continuing care community they’re considering.
When visiting CCRCs, ask about these factors:
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A Place for Mom’s 400 local experts can share information about CCRCs and other senior living options in your area. They can also help assess your family’s specific situation to figure out the right fit for your loved one — all at no cost to you.
The Aspen Institute. “The True Cost of Caregiving.”
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.
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