What is a CCRC?
The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging defines a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) as "an organization that offers a full range of housing, residential services, and health care in order to serve its older residents as their needs change over time."
Their mission is to primarily give the elderly a sense of independence and help them enjoy full and productive lives throughout the later years of their lives. While CCRCs started out as nonprofits and still account for most of the communities, there has been a steady increase of for-profits in recent years. CCRCs not only relieve seniors from household responsibilities, they offer a predictable way to obtain and pay for future needs.
How do I know if a CCRC community is right for me?
If you no longer want to keep up the responsibility and cost of home ownership, yet are generally healthy and active and want to maintain your interests and activities, a CCRC may be a viable option as you look ahead. CCRCs are also well suited for seniors who feel they would further enjoy their lives among peers in a community-based environment that offers a broad range of social activities. Many also feel freer not having to worry about housekeeping, laundry, and meals, so they can spend more time participating in activities they enjoy. Also, a CCRC can provide different levels of care for a couple with one spouse who requires assistance with daily living, while the other can remain active in the community.
What type of CCRC should I look for?
While some residents enjoy a smaller, closeknit community, others prefer a larger environment that may offer a broader range of services and programs. Much also depends on where your family members reside, the type of climate you prefer, and whether or not you want to live in close proximity to a city. The community you choose should suit your lifestyle. Some may offer a strong focus on religious and cultural activities. Your decisions will naturally be based on your financial situation, but your individual needs and preferences should also guide your choice. May sure you take a thorough tour of the CCRC you're interested in, which will give you a feeling for the community and help you decide if it's the right one for your needs.
How many CCRCs are in the United States and how do I locate them?
There are currently about 2,000 CCRCs throughout the country. A list of 500 CCRCs are available from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging website: http://www.aahsa.org/public/find.htm. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) can also provide a list of accredited CCRCs in the areas where you want to live www.carf.org. Keep in mind that many reputable communities may have not yet applied for accreditation and/or are not yet eligible, as such requirements are based on occupancy and certain financial standings.
What types of residences are available?
CCRCs offer housing options along a continuum of care, ranging from independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing care. Residential living units can be comprised of apartments, cottages, townhouses, or single-family homes and come in many different sizes. They are designed with seniors in mind, offering safety and security features and comfortable furnishings and amenities.
Assisted living units provide residents with help in activities of daily living, from personal care to taking medications. These units are typically located in a separate wing or building.
Short- and long-term nursing care includes rehabilitative and round-the-clock services within the community or at a nearby care center. Some CCRCs provide nursing or assisted living units designed for seniors with specific illnesses, such as Alzheimer's or other dementia-related conditions.
What types of services and amenities can I expect?
While each community is different, most offer state-of-the-art community centers, auditoriums, and health clubs. A CCRC may be built with a specific set of interests, cultures, or religions in mind. Typical all-inclusive services are:
- Social, physical, recreational, cultural, activity, and educational programs
- Scheduled transportation
- Exercise programs
Health care services include:
- Resident health clinic
- Wellness programs
- Health education
- Nursing advice
- Physician services
- Pharmacy services
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapies
Many communities offer an abundance of other features and amenities such as:
- Beauty and barber shop
- Carports or garages
- Chapel, chaplain, religious services
- Convenience store, gift shop, coffee shop
- Game room
- Guest accommodations
- Hiking/walking trails
- Private dining room and catering services
- Educational classes
- Volunteer activities