Finding the right level of care for the senior in your family can be challenging. It’s important to make sure your loved ones are comfortable and healthy, while still acknowledging their autonomy and giving them a safe level of independence. Continuing care retirement communities are a great comprehensive solution for your loved ones as they age. Continuing care communities offer scalable levels of care, so you can adjust the level of care provided as your senior’s health changes. So if you are asking "how do I find continuing care retirement communities near me" - here’s everything you need to know about continuing care retirement communities and how to locate one in your area.
What is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC)?
Continuing care retirement communities are a bit different from a traditional nursing home or independent senior living communities. Continuing care retirement communities are large facilities that offer tiered care solutions for their residents. Seniors can start in an independent living facility, but then easily transfer into assisted living care units or full nursing care if their health starts to deteriorate. Continuing care retirement communities provide a very wide range of services that are designed to provide complete peace of mind for families.
What specific services do continuing care retirement communities provide?
Continuing care retirement communities offer independent living options, either in the form of single-family houses or senior apartment complexes. Seniors in these housing units live independently, but can choose to access resources designed specifically for senior care and convenience if they choose to do so. These resources typically include dining services, cleaning services, medical care and physical therapy on-site, gym facilities and group exercise classes, and social activities. They are available to both couples and singles, and many continuing care retirement communities allow seniors to bring their pets with them as well.
If a senior’s health starts to decline, they can transfer into a form of more in-depth medical care. There are typically two forms of care available at continuing care retirement communities. The first is assisted care. A senior in assisted care will receive help with their daily tasks and personal care as needed. For example, many seniors may need help with things like cooking, cleaning, and running errands, so they’ll receive assistance with this throughout the day. They’ll have access to meals prepared as needed, and they’ll also receive help with things like bathing, dressing, and grooming as needed. Seniors in assisted care will have access to the same amenities that those in independent care do, they just may need help accessing them. Seniors in assisted care typically don’t receive full medical care every day, and they may still do some activities independently.
Finally, seniors who are nearing end-of-life or struggling with severe medical conditions will have access to skilled nursing care. This is daily medical care in addition to the assisted care services mentioned above. Patients will receive help taking medications and be closely monitored to make sure their health is stable. Patients can typically transfer back out of skilled nursing care to assisted care as their health improves. Most continuing care retirement communities offer personalized care programs that address the specific problems your loved one is struggling with.
How much do continuing care retirement facilities cost?
Unfortunately, continuing care retirement communities are some of the most expensive forms of senior care. Because these facilities are so comprehensive, they can charge more for their services. Most CCRCs require an entrance fee, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as monthly payments of three to five thousand dollars on average. However, this hefty price tag covers complete care for life, so for people who need all their services in one place and have the money to spend, continuing care retirement facilities can be worth the price tag. The exact amount you’ll be charged per month will depend on which services your loved one is using while they’re in care - some communities have a lower base fee and then add on extra charges depending on which services you use, while others have higher base fees but don’t charge extra for certain services. While most normal medical insurance plans won’t cover continuing care retirement communities, many long-term care insurance plans will, so if you’ve had one of these plans taken out ahead of time, you may be able to save money on continuing care retirement facilities.
How do continuing care contracts work?
When you enter into a continuing care retirement community, you’ll typically have to sign a contract with the facility before you can start care. There are a few different types of contracts available, depending on which CCRC you choose. The first type of contract is a fee for service contract. In this contract, you’ll pay a much lower base fee when you first enter the facility, but you’ll pay fees for medical care and other services as you use them. This type of contract may make sense if you are relatively healthy and don’t anticipate needing extensive medical care for a few years.
The next type of contract is a set length contract, often called a modified contract. In this contract, you pay a set fee to obtain services for a specific amount of time. During this time, you won’t have to pay additional fees for service. Once the contract has ended, you can add on additional services for an extra fee, or sign another modified contract, depending on what is most financially viable for your needs. These contracts are a good option if you can’t commit to a full life of care, but want to purchase full care for a specific period of time.
The final type of CCRC contract is a full life contract. In this type of contract, you’ll pay a set amount up front to receive comprehensive services for the rest of your life for whatever you need. This type of contract can be very expensive, but it provides peace of mind knowing that you’ll be taken care of regardless of what happens to you later in life. It’s important to be completely confident that you’ll be happy and comfortable in a CCRC before committing to a lifetime contract, because these contracts can be quite difficult to reverse.
What should you look for in a continuing care retirement community?
There are many things to look for when searching for a continuing care retirement community. The first is that they truly do provide you with the full range of services you need to stay healthy as you age. Since continuing care is so expensive, it’s important that you are getting the value you deserve for the fees you are paying. CCRCs should offer comprehensive medical care, including treatment for any existing medical conditions, screening and preventative care for new medical conditions, physical therapy for injuries, and mental health services that include dementia and Alzheimer’s care. They should also offer meal services, cleaning services, and help with personal care, as well as transportation for running errands and social activities. Do some thorough research into the services your continuing care community offers before making a final decision.
You should also make sure that the staff at your continuing care retirement community are highly trained professionals. The doctors and nurses on staff should all be medically trained to offer safe and helpful care. It’s also important that if your loved one struggles with a specific medical condition that there is someone on staff who specializes in treating that condition. Everyone on the staff, both medical and non-medical, should be friendly, welcoming, and very comfortable dealing with seniors. Interviewing staff members and taking a full tour of the CCRC is a good way to get an idea of the culture in the retirement community.
It’s also important to make sure the residence is comfortable and welcoming in terms of design and decor. The residences should have enough space for your senior to comfortably move around and make themselves at home, but shouldn’t be so large that they can’t keep them clean or might become overwhelmed. It’s important that couples can stay living together if they want to, and it’s also helpful if seniors can bring their pets with them into the community. It’s also important that the communal spaces are appealing and don’t feel too clinical, and that seniors have access to maintained outdoor spaces. Feeling relaxed and at home is very important for seniors’ mental health.
Finally, it’s important to find a continuing care retirement community that fits within your budget and offers a contract that fits your needs. Since continuing care can be very expensive, it’s important to start planning financially for it well ahead of your move if it’s something you’re interested in for the future. You should also make sure you’re not locked into a contract that’s less than ideal - it’s important that you feel confident in the contract option you choose. If you opt for a full life CCRC contract, it’s absolutely essential that your continuing care community has an established presence and is very reliable, so you can count on them continuing to be there well into the future.
What are the benefits of continuing care retirement communities?
There are many benefits to staying in a continuing care retirement community. The biggest benefit is that the care is completely comprehensive, so you don’t have to worry about finding another care provider if your situation changes in the future. It also makes the transition from independent senior living to assisted care much easier, because you don’t have to worry about moving or finding a new community. You can stick with the same providers and just increase the level of care you are receiving. There are also so many preventative and well-being services available on site, so you don’t have to go elsewhere to exercise or eat well.
Another important benefit of staying in a continuing care retirement community is that families can stay together. Couples aging together can live together while they’re still in good health, and then if one needs additional care, the couple can stay close together while one is receiving treatment. Since continuing care retirement communities are so comprehensive, it’s easy for families to come visit. Younger family members that may be worried about their seniors can rest assured that their loved one is being well taken care of, and that they have all the resources they need at their disposal.
Finally, these facilities provide a true sense of community that can prevent seniors from becoming lonely or depressed, which is an unfortunately common challenge that many seniors face. These communities offer a variety of outings and other activities that seniors can do together, so they have plenty of opportunities to interact with others and make new friends. There are also plenty of enriching activities available that give seniors a daily routine, engage their mental capabilities, and can even help them better manage memory issues such as dementia.
How can I talk to my loved one about continuing care retirement communities?
It’s important to plan for healthcare and living assistance ahead of time, before you urgently need to deal with the problem. This can be a difficult topic to bring up to a loved one, but it’s a very crucial conversation to have. It’s important to approach it from the perspective of really caring about them and wanting them to be healthy and happy so they can live a longer life. Continuing care retirement communities may be more appealing to seniors than a nursing home, because they have the option to live independently for a longer period of time. It’s also very important that seniors are involved in the decision of choosing a continuing care retirement provider, even if they are struggling with declining mental capabilities. Your senior should be part of the facility tours and interviews you conduct to choose a community.
How can I find a continuing care retirement community near me?
At SeniorLivingHelp.org, we list options for seniors looking to transition into more managed care. Searching our online directory for resources in your metro area is a good way to start. Talking to your current doctor about more comprehensive living facilities is another good way to find continuing care solutions.