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Elderly Housing: Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities are increasing in popularity, and there are several options available to meet the needs of varying lifestyles.  Medical exams and insurance requirements might be necessary in determining eligibility in a CCRC.  The primary feature which distinguishes CCRCs is the requirement of a contractual agreement. This agreement allows residents to stay within the community despite their medical needs.  Seniors who initially join are normally independent and active.  However, should their health status change, services are available.  In essence, CCRCs offer both housing and health care.

There are three phases in CCRCs.  The first phase is geared toward the independent senior who requires little, if any, outside help.  Housing could be available in the form of detached homes, townhouse-style homes, apartments, etc.  Activities appealing to the active senior are often available.

The second phase in CCRCs is assisted living arrangements.  This housing type usually takes place in the form of an apartment.  Meals commonly are shared, and certain services are available.

The third phase in CCRCs is a skilled nursing environment.  A furnished private or shared room makes up the living space.  This phase is designed for seniors who require 24-hour medical care or rehabilitative treatment.

There are different types of contractual agreements within CCRCs, and most require a sizable entrance fee. The contract types are as follows:

  • Extensive. Generally affords residents access to lifetime health service without the increase of monthly fees.  Still, the up front cost might be higher.
  • Modified. Usually sets a specified amount for lifetime health care.  Should the resident exceed the limit, he or she is monetarily responsible for the overage.
  • Fee-For-Service. Often residents have lower monthly fees but must pay out-of-pocket for health services.

The cost for CCRCs can be expensive, with an entrance fee commonly ranging from $20,000 to over $350,000.  Monthly charges can range from a few hundred dollars to over $2,000.  Although amenities vary from location to location, monthly fees often cover meals, 24-hour security, emergency monitoring, laundry, housekeeping, recreational and social activities, health services, transportation, etc.

CCRCs generally bind residents to a long-term contract.  Subsequently, it is very important to do as much research as possible (should this area be of interest).  Also, check to see if the desired facility is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).  If not, then investigate all aspects of the community (including finance) to ensure your lifestyle and health needs will be properly met.

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