In recent years, many attractive options for retirement living have emerged. One popular option is the continuing care retirement community, or CCRC. This type of community is different from other housing and care options for older people because it offers a long-term contract that provides for housing, services and nursing care, usually all in one location.
At the same time, CCRCs offer some distinct advantages, including physical and financial security, independence and access to health care, companionship of friends and neighbors of similar age, and access to community facilities and privacy. The CCRCs emphasis on the individual, coupled with a supportive environment, allows you to continue to pursue your lifelong interests.
There are many options in the CCRC industry. Consider the community size when making your decision; do you prefer a large community with many options and services, or something smaller and more individualized? Would you prefer a more formal environment or are you a casual person at heart? There are CCRCs of all types and sizes, and you should find one where you will feel most at home. Use the list below as a starting point for asking questions when visiting or contacting communities.
If you have decided that a CCRC is the best option for yourself or a family member, it is best to visit a few facilities. Here is a checklist of things to keep in mind and questions to ask as you decide what facility is best for you:
- Find out what kinds of services the facility offers and which ones are included at no extra cost. Sometimes, extra services are available for additional fees.
- Inquire as to what kinds of contracts are available to you. The CCRC contract is a legal agreement between you (the consumer) and a continuing retirement community. This agreement generally secures living accommodations and services, including health care services, over the long term. The three most common types of CCRC agreements are:
- Extensive Contract: This offers unlimited long-term nursing care for little or no substantial increase in your usual monthly payments.
- Modified Contract: This includes a specified amount of long-term nursing care beyond which you are responsible for payment.
- Fee-For-Service: You pay full daily rates for all long-term nursing care required.
- Determine what fee structure and contract option best suits your personal circumstances.
- Find out if the CCRC is subject to licensure. Ask to see the most recent inspection reports.
- Find out what the payment schedule is. Also, find out if the residents own or rent their living space.
- Find out if the CCRC is accredited by the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission, the only accrediting body for CCRCs. Visit the CCAC website at ccaconline.org to learn more about accreditation and see a list of accredited communities, or call (202)783-7286 for more information.
- Before signing a contract, have your accountant or lawyer review the contract.
Reprinted from New LifeStyles Guide to Senior Living and Care, Edition #46