Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are designed for seniors who are currently living independently but want the security of being cared for when needed as they grow older. Sometimes referred to as Lifecare, they encompass a long-term care contract for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and certain healthcare services all at one location.
Residents living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) can take advantage of a full range of care and services available as his or her health needs change without having to relocate. Residents usually begin in an independent living residence, transfer to assisted living, and if declining health dictates, move to an onsite intermediate or skilled nursing care facility. Many seniors feel secure in having a contractual arrangement with a CCRC for long-term care that covers the extensive and burdensome cost of nursing home care. Some communities offer residents with Alzheimer's disease specialized programs adapting to their changing needs.
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As in the assisted living concept of care, services are tailored to an individual's needs and typically include meals, housekeeping, transportation, and personal care assistance. Planned social, educational, and recreational activities are often available as with many senior housing and retirement homes. The key difference between CCRCs and assisted living is that a lifetime commitment exists to care for a resident regardless of changes in level of care or health needs.
Most communities emphasize preventive health care through encouraging regular immunizations, examinations, proper nutrition, social opportunities, exercise and physical therapy at convenient onsite locations. Better Continuing Care Communities use a multidisciplinary approach to coordinate the care of their residents with chronic or debilitating medical problems. Services may include primary health care, specialist's care, diagnostic testing facilities, counseling and social services that may be offered in an outpatient clinic, a skilled care facility, or in a resident's home.
CCRC settings range from expansive campuses to high rise apartment complexes. Housing choices vary widely including studio, one, two, and three, bedroom apartments, townhouses or even single family homes. Some CCRCs are confused with "hybrid" communities that have emerged over time and due to popular demand. It is common to find communities that combine Independent Living with Assisted Living or Assisted Living with Skilled Care. However keep in mind a true CCRC by definition provides all levels of care allowing for aging in place.
Some CCRCs elect to become accredited by the national Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC / CARF) which conducts voluntary extensive evaluations of facilities.
Locate better communities by not only identifying highly regarded CARF/CCAC accredited facilities but also utilizing state inspection data found in our Nursing Home Inspector tool that is specific to the skilled care portion of a CCRC..
Residents commonly pay an entry or buy-in fee to join the community with monthly maintenance fees thereafter. These entrance fees may be sizable and vary considerably depending on the size and location of residences, whether for single individuals or married couples, and if renting or owning living space. Furthermore the type of additional services and amenities, and the level of financial risk for needing long-term care are determining factors in overall costs. There are three basic types of contracts and fees to consider that may require consultation with a financial planner and/or attorney to help determine which plan is best for you.
An extensive contract offers unlimited long-term nursing care with little or no significant increase in your usual monthly fees. This is the most expensive contract but may prove to be the most cost-effective later should skilled care be needed.
A modified contract includes a specified amount of health care or long-term nursing care beyond which additional fees are incurred that you are responsible for payment.