What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

As more seniors aim to maintain their independence long into their golden years while still adequately planning for the future, there’s growing demand for continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). A popular type of senior living community that offers some unique advantages for older adults, continuing care retirement communities give older adults the freedom to live life on their own terms coupled with the security of having access to various levels of care as their needs change.

How Continuing Care Retirement Communities Work

Continuing care retirement communities offer a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing on the same campus. This arrangement enables seniors to easily transition from independent living to assisted living and eventually to a skilled nursing setting as their needs change.

There are two types of CCRCs: rental CCRCs and life plan CCRCs. They differ in how older adults pay for them (which we’ll discuss more below) but also in that Life Care CCRCs guarantee their independent living residents placement in their assisted living or skilled nursing communities when the need arises. This benefit gives older adults peace of mind that their loved ones won’t need to make those decisions and arrangements on their behalf should their healthcare needs change as they age.

Some of the biggest benefits of CCRCs include increased opportunities for socialization, access to a variety of services and amenities, and a maintenance-free lifestyle.

What Services & Amenities Do Continuing Care Retirement Communities Provide?

Continuing care retirement communities offer a wide range of services and amenities. The specific services and amenities can vary from community to community but may include:

  • Dining services
  • Transportation
  • Exercise and game rooms
  • On-site barber shops, beauty salons, and manicurists
  • Massage therapy
  • Activities rooms and arts & crafts rooms
  • Wellness centers and healthcare services
  • On-site storage units
  • Private dining options
  • 24/7 security
  • 24-hour emergency services
  • Accessible laundry facilities
  • Maintenance services such as trash removal, water and sewer, and more
  • Personal care services

The cost of a continuing care retirement community can vary based on the services and amenities offered. A continuing care retirement community that offers fewer services and amenities may cost less than one that offers a full suite of services and perks. Older adults can weigh the costs against their desired services and amenities when choosing a CCRC.

How Do You Pay for a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Older adults who choose a rental CCRC pay a monthly rental fee to reside in the community. These rental fees can vary based on the level of care the resident receives.

Life plan CCRCs, as mentioned above, guarantee that residents will have placement in their community as their needs change. These CCRCs also require a monthly fee, as well as an entrance fee which is paid upfront.

Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover the cost of living in independent living or assisted living communities, and Medicare coverage for skilled nursing care is limited, as well. Some older adults are able to sell their home to cover the entrance fee. Because they eliminate the costs associated with maintaining their home, some seniors find that the monthly fees work out to be similar to or even less than their previous monthly costs. In other cases, the cost of living in a CCRC may exceed an older adult’s previous monthly expenses.

Seniors who don’t want to sell their home immediately may be able to take out a home equity loan to cover a CCRC entrance fee. The entrance fee can be written off as a medical deduction on taxes, which can offset the initial cost somewhat as well. Long-term care insurance plans can be used to cover some or all of the costs of residing at a CCRC in many cases. Coverage or reimbursement varies based on the type of long-term care insurance coverage the senior has, the costs of the continuing care retirement community, and other factors.

Types of CCRC Contracts

After choosing a continuing care retirement community, seniors enter into a contractual agreement with the company that outlines the services provided for the required fees. There are a few common types of contracts used by CCRCs, including:

  • Type A, or extensive life care contract: This type of contract includes a complete range of services but also requires the highest fees.
  • Type B, or modified contract: This option offers a more limited set of services. Should a resident require additional services not included in the contract, it results in higher monthly fees.
  • Type C, or fee for service contract: This option often comes with a lower upfront entrance fee but requires residents to pay for higher levels of care, such as assisted living or skilled nursing, should the need arise.
  • Type D, or rental contract: This type of contract is used by rental CCRCs and outlines the services offered for the agreed-upon fee.
  • Type E, or equity contract: This type of contract is an alternative to an upfront entrance fee. Rather than the upfront fee, older adults can enter into an agreement to purchase a share of their unit.

Again, the specific terms may vary from contract to contract, so older adults should review them carefully and consult an experienced elder law attorney before signing.

Continuing care retirement communities are an increasingly popular option for older adults who want to maintain their independence as long as possible while having the peace of mind that their needs will be met as they grow older. CCRCs like Arbors of Hop Brook offer an array of services and amenities to provide a carefree, enjoyable, and convenient lifestyle for older adults who want to maintain a vibrant and active lifestyle long into their golden years.