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What are continuing care retirement communities?

What are continuing care retirement communities?

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are living arrangements that combine independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care on a single campus. CCRCs offer residents a continuum of care throughout their lives.

Typically, you enter a CCRC as a resident of an independent housing unit, which may be a condominium, apartment, or single-family home. When you need more care or are unable to live independently, you can move to the assisted living facility on campus. Should you need the next level of care, you can move into the on-site nursing home.

While specific services and benefits may differ, communities generally offer dining facilities, transportation, lawn care, housekeeping, social activities, laundry, emergency call monitoring, and security. As needs arise, additional services may include preparation of meals, health services such as medical care, and personal care such as assistance with toileting, bathing, and personal hygiene.

The fee arrangements for CCRCs vary and generally include both a monthly fee and an entrance fee. These fees can be quite substantial depending on the location of the community, the services offered and chosen, and the living arrangements desired. The entry fee may be fully or partially refundable, and monthly fees may increase over time. Medicare and/or health insurance may pay for some of the services provided.

There are three basic types of residential arrangements for CCRCs:

  • Life care or extended contract. This option offers unlimited assisted living, medical treatment, and skilled nursing care. This alternative is often the priciest because there are typically no additional fees or charges.
  • Modified contract. This contract is similar to the life care option, except that only certain defined services are included for a predetermined price and/or for a specified length of time. Extra charges will apply if you need additional services or are able to extend the contract's time frame.
  • Fee-for-service contract. While the initial enrollment fee may be lower, assisted-living and skilled-care services are paid for at their market rates.

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