When married couple Mara, age 67 and Lou, age 70, started thinking about the next phase of their lives they knew change was in their future. After raising three children and taking care of a large home for many years, they were ready to move to a community where the property would be maintained for them. They realized that living independently for the rest of their lives, while appealing in theory, might not be realistic.
Mara and Lou knew from their past experiences with their own aging parents that the health issues that often accompany aging could eventually affect their ability to care for their home, themselves, and each other. They wanted a long-term solution where they would be safe, secure, and cared for, for the rest of their lives.
Mara and Lou had always been careful future planners, and this time was no different. After thoroughly exploring their options, they decided on a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
What is a CCRC?
A CCRC is a community that provides both housing and nursing care as needed. Residents join when they are independent and can live safely on their own. When you apply, the CCRC will closely examine your health records and evaluate your current physical and mental health. Additionally, the CCRC will request detailed financial information to determine your ability to pay the entrance fee and monthly fees.
What are the benefits of a CCRC?
A CCRC enables you to age in place. According to the Social Security website on life expectancy, people age 65 can expect to live, on average another 19-21 years. Additionally, 33% of people age 65 will live past 90 and 15% will live past 95.
You will generally move into a CCRC when you’re able to live on your own. Then, over time and as your needs change, the amount of care you receive can change too. Another way to think of a CCRC is as independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care all rolled into one.
What are CCRCs like?
A CCRC campus often looks like an upscale suburban community. It may be composed of houses, townhouses, cottages, and apartments. There are often recreational facilities, including activity centers, swimming pools, and gyms, as well as a common dining room. CCRCs usually offer social events, such as card games and movie nights, as well as outings to cultural venues. Many residents find that living in a CCRC enables them to live a very fulfilling life, without worrying about moving to get the extra care they may need in the future.
Are CCRCs regulated?
It depends. CCRCs are regulated at the state level, but not every state regulates CCRCs. It’s important to request financial information from the CCRC in order to try and determine the viability of the facility.
How much do CCRCs cost?
Each CCRC has different fees, which you should thoroughly explore. However, there are generally three types of payment options with CCRCs.
Type A contracts, also known as Lifecare, are all inclusive (housing and medical) with a high entry fee and a relatively stable monthly fee.
Type B contracts are also called modified contracts because you have an entry fee and will pay a relatively stable monthly fee for a defined benefit period. If care is needed beyond that time, you will pay for care at the market rate.
Type C contracts or Fee-For-Service models may have no or a small entrance fee and a monthly fee. However, you will have to pay market rates for health care services.
In addition to the fee structure, you should also review all the additional features in the contract. For example, refundability of the entrance fee, the type of CCRC ownership structure (non-profit or for profit), and what other services, such as housekeeping and transportation, are included.
How do I know if a CCRC is right for me?
Moving to a CCRC is a commitment. Therefore, those who are considering a CCRC should consult with their trusted advisors, such as their CPA, attorney, financial planner, and their loved ones before making this important decision. You should also speak with your financial advisors, including your CPA, about the tax benefits that may be associated with choosing a CCRC.
A CCRC is something I’d like to explore. What do I do next?
Give yourself ample time to understand the available options and different aspects of a CCRC. Careful due diligence, including reviewing financials, visiting different facilities, speaking with your trusted advisors and family members, meeting with current CCRC residents, and considering the social and lifestyle factors will help you to make the decision that’s right for you.
You can also learn more by visiting these websites:
leadingage.org – education for the aging population
carf.org – an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services
projects.propublica.org/nonprofits – financial information on non-profits
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