Welcome to the first in our four-part series on continuing care retirement communities. A continuing care retirement community or CCRC is a senior community that offers all the benefits of retirement village living such as housing, meals, social activities, and transportation, with the additional benefit of both assisted living and nursing home care offered on the same campus. Offerings may also include specialized care units for Parkinson’s disease or dementia.
Why a CCRC?
Choosing a CCRC instead of a retirement community that only offers independent or assisted living housing services is a bit like investing in a long-term care insurance policy. When you join a CCRC you guarantee a place at a campus where you receive both a general level of comfort and care as well as more specialized levels of care if they become required later on. Because none of us can be certain what our care needs will be in the future, this is a great investment that can reduce stress on you and your family. Investing in a single community ensures that you won’t have to vet different facilities as your care needs change.
Age in Place
At a CCRC, then, you get all the benefits of a retirement community such as 24/7 emergency assistance, no more home and yard maintenance, transportation options, group classes and activities, and much more without having to leave the campus for most specialized care. This allows you to age in place in the same community, among the new friends you’ve made, throughout your retirement.
Find Your Fit
Since you will be living in this community even if your care needs change, it’s vitally important that you find the right fit. Here are the top considerations for many older adults when choosing a CCRC:
- Location, location, location! You’ll want to find a CCRC that’s near family, friends, loved ones, or those who have power of attorney or guardianship over your care. This ensures that you maintain social contacts with these important people in your life as well as all the new friends you’ll make on campus. Do you prefer city or country living? If you enjoy wide open spaces, a rural community may make sense. If you like strolling around the big city near shops and restaurants, a more centrally located community would be a better fit.
- What types of amenities are most important to you? Do you want access to a health club? How about continuing education classes? Is there a restaurant and salon in your new community? Make a list of the amenities that are most important to you and decide how you want to spend your retirement. While communities do change over time, your best bet is to select a community that has everything you want right now. Promised amenities may never materialize, and you’ll want to enjoy everything life has to offer immediately!
- Specialized care. Do you anticipate needing a special type of care as you age? If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s or dementia you will want to choose a CCRC that offers programs and care for people with these conditions. This could be a care unit, specialized staff, or even fitness programs designed to help you retain or improve memory and motor function.
In the second part of our series on continuing care retirement communities, we’ll take a look at costs related to care. We will also explore the many funding options available to residents.