need nothing more than a community where
they can fully enjoy pursuing their personal
interests. For them, moving to an active
independent living retirement community
might be the best fit for their budget and
lifestyle, where options include renting an
apartment or the outright purchase of a
property in a senior community.
Many active senior communities have information packets that may be requested in
advance, and offer tours of the community
itself. A personal visit will give valuable,
first-hand information and an opportunity to visit with current residents who can
offer their own experiences and provide an
insider’s view on the community. Be sure
to determine that personal interests and
pursuits are offered, such as health and
fitness programs, organized activities, or
sports. Other day-to-day living arrangements should also be considered, such as
shopping centers and grocery stores within
easy walking distance. Are transportation
services provided, if needed? Where is the
community located in proximity to major
health care providers? And, what security
measures are in place for residents? For ultimate peace of mind, some seniors rent a
home under a short-term agreement at first
to make sure the community provides for
their needs and lives up to their expectations.
A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers 360-degree care in
residential community for seniors, with a
full menu of services and living situations.
Residents at a CCRC may move between
independent living, assisted living and
nursing home care, depending on their individual, changing needs. Seniors electing to
live in a CCRC (also known as “Life-Care
Facilities” and “Life-Care Communities”)
contract with the community in advance
for a lifetime commitment to provide care,
regardless of their future health and needs.
They then live in the residential community
for the remainder of their lives, and are
placed within a living situation appropriate
to their needs and abilities.
Seniors or family members of seniors who
are concerned about future security find
CCRCs a safe bet, addressing any worries
about future health problems down the road
and alleviating any concerns about hidden
costs along the way. A CCRC generally
offers seniors a contract or contracts that
provide a continuum of care that includes
access to housing, services, and health care
for more than one year, or the balance of
their lives. Usually, it is a wise idea for
seniors to move into a CCRC sooner rather
than later, as most CCRCs require that new
residents be capable of living independently
when they first move in.
There are a number of contract options
offered by CCRCs to seniors and their
families. An extensive care contract is the
most expensive, but affords the least risk,
providing unlimited long-term nursing care
at little or no additional cost for as long as
nursing home services are needed by the
client. A modified care contract comes
with medium financial risk, and provides
long-term health or nursing services for a
specified period of time, after which, the
senior or their guardian is responsible for the
additional cost. A fee-for-service contract
offers an a la carte approach, requiring that
residents pay separately for all health and
medical services provided by the facility, as
well as long-term care. While a fee-for-service contract is the least expensive contract,
it does have the highest risk, as costs can run
very high for seniors who require unanticipated extensive care later in life.
The most common element in a CCRC
contract is an entrance fee, where regardless of whether the contract is an extensive,
modified or fee-for-service contract, the
resident pays a lump sum entrance fee,
plus monthly fees thereafter. Another
CCRC contract option may require an
equity agreement where seniors purchase
a condominium or co-op apartment on the
property instead of paying an entrance fee.
Less commonly found are CCRC contracts
where residents pay monthly fees only.
Seniors and their families are advised to be
sure to read the fine print on the contract
carefully to ensure that they are signing
an agreement that guarantees the lifetime
of services and support over an extended
period of time that they are looking for.
There are so-called copycat senior-care resi-
dences that claim to offer all the benefits of
a CCRC, but in reality the services guaran-
teed by the actual contract fall far short of
the claims made by management.
Before signing a contract with a CCRC,
seniors should conduct a thorough review
of the facility’s services, operations and
finances, and determine that the CCRC
is appropriate to their needs, lifestyle and
expectations. It’s also a good idea to ask
a family attorney or accountant to review
the contract as well. If the contract is found
agreeable, ask to spend at least one night
and two days at the facility, to test drive the
community and make sure it is a good fit.
Some points to consider include:
• Are pets allowed in your residence?
• What social, recreational and cultural
activities are offered?
• Is food prepared onsite? If so, how is it?
• Are there fitness facilities onsite?
• Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable?
• What healthcare and personal care
services are available?
• What preparations have been made for
handling medical and evacuation emergency situations?
CCRCs are an excellent option for those
who are independent and in good health,
but might need some assistance with daily
living needs or require skilled nursing care.
The variety of housing offered by CCRCs
is varied as well, ranging from ultra-urban
high-rise apartment communities to cottages,
townhouses, duplexes or even single-family
homes located in a beautiful, natural setting.
An Assisted Living Community (ALC)
bridges the gap for seniors who need assistance with daily activities as a nursing home
might offer, but wish to live as independently