Continuing Care Retirement Community VS. Nursing Home: Whats the Difference?

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Grace Pointe

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Jul 31, 2023

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Colorado - Northern Colorado

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So, you’re looking into senior care for yourself or your loved one but have some questions about what the difference is between a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and a nursing home community. This blog will go into the differences along with more commonly asked questions to help you make an informed decision about senior care. 

When it comes to senior care, some might envision a hospital-like environment, and many will immediately think of the term “nursing home.” Even though modern-day senior living options — such as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) — have come a long way from the traditional nursing homes of the past, there is often still a misconception between the two. 

When searching for a senior care community, people want more than just a hospital-like environment. They want a place where they can have an active lifestyle and be in a community that uplifts and supports each other, and that’s where CCRCs come in.

Let’s first start by differentiating nursing home communities and CCRCs, getting down to which is the best fit for you. So, what exactly qualifies as a nursing home community?

What is a Nursing Home Community?

By definition, a nursing home community is a place for people who don’t need to be in a hospital but can’t be cared for at home. The primary function of a nursing home is to provide the basic medical care services that the residents require, not taking into account the quality of living. While nursing homes certainly do an excellent job of caring for seniors who need medical services, they primarily focus on providing generalized care in a comfortable setting.

What is a Continuing Care Community?

In contrast, a continuing care retirement community or CCRC is a senior living community that combines an active lifestyle, hospitality, and access to different levels of healthcare in one convenient location. A CCRC focuses on the relationship between the caretakers and the residents, listening and learning from each other to create a more hospitable place to live.

Unlike a nursing home community, CCRCs offer a continuum of care, including independent livingassisted livingmemory carelong-term care that includes skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services so residents can age in place and receive the right level of care at any given time. Residents also gain access to a broader range of on-site medical professionals — from registered nurses to occupational therapists to nutritionists — specially trained to provide personalized geriatric care.

What it all boils down to is that continuing care retirement communities focus on going beyond medical care and forming meaningful relationships with each individual resident.

Today’s CCRCs offer far more than the typical nursing home, with many amenities and services designed to help residents lead fulfilling lifestyles. With spacious living accommodations in a neighborhood-style atmosphere, enriching social programming, restaurant-style dining, engaging activities, and more residents can enjoy an active and comfortable lifestyle. Choosing a CCRC means more time, freedom, and opportunities.

Now that you understand the difference between nursing homes and continuing care communities, it’s time to think about what other kinds of questions you’ll want to ask while looking for the best senior living option. It only makes sense that you would want the best for your loved one, and knowing what questions to ask is a great place to start. Below is a list of questions to consider during your search for the right continuing care retirement community for you and your family.

How Much Does Continuing Care Cost and Will Insurance Cover Any of It?

The cost of CCRCs varies, dependent on location, availability, and popularity. Looking at the cost of continuing care in your area is a good starting point. The average monthly cost for assisted living in the state of Colorado is $4,750 according to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey

 

Here are some of the expenses associated with CCRCs you’ll want to consider:

 

  • Entrance Fee – This is a one-time fee that varies with each CCRC
  • Monthly Fees – These fees will vary depending on the services and amenities offered
  • Long-Term Care Costs – The cost of long-term care can vary and will be paid monthly
  • Assisted Living Facility Costs – These costs will vary depending on the type of housing you choose

 

It’s important to remember that these costs can add up quickly and should be taken into consideration when making your decision about continuing care. However, depending on your loved one’s medical insurance coverage, some of the costs may be taken care of. Let’s take a look at different types of insurance that can help cover some of the cost of your CCRC. 

 

Medicare

Medicare typically does not cover the costs of Continuing Care Retirement Communities, as they are considered to be long-term care facilities. Medicare is primarily intended to cover medical costs, such as hospitalization, doctor’s visits, and prescription medications.

 

However, some CCRCs offer services or programs that may be covered by Medicare. For example, if a resident of a CCRC requires skilled nursing care, Medicare may cover the costs of this care for a limited time. It’s important to research the specific CCRC you are considering and speak with their admissions team to determine which services may be covered by Medicare, if any.

 

It’s also important to note that Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) may offer additional benefits that can be used to cover the costs of care in CCRCs. However, the specific benefits offered will depend on the individual plan and may vary widely.

 

Medicaid

Generally, Medicaid does not cover the costs of Continuing Care Retirement Communities. This is because CCRCs are considered to be private pay facilities, and residents are expected to use their own assets to cover the costs of care.

 

However, some CCRCs may offer programs or services that are Medicaid-certified. For example, if a CCRC has a skilled nursing facility as part of its campus, residents may be able to use Medicaid to cover the costs of care in that particular area.

 

Veteran’s Benefits

There are several veterans benefits that may apply to the cost of care at Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Some of these benefits include the following:

 

  1. Aid and Attendance – This is a tax-free benefit for veterans who require the help of another person to perform daily activities, such as bathing or dressing. The benefit can be used to cover the costs of care in a CCRC or another facility.
  2. Housebound Benefits – This tax-free benefit is available to veterans who are unable to leave their homes without assistance. The benefit can be used to cover the costs of care in a CCRC or another facility.
  3. Veterans Directed Home and Community-Based Services – This program allows veterans to manage their own care and use their benefits to pay for care services in a CCRC or another facility.
  4. VA Pension – This is a needs-based benefit for wartime veterans who have limited income and assets. The benefit can be used to cover the costs of care in a CCRC or another facility.

 

Please note – eligibility requirements for these benefits can vary and that there may be a waiting period for some benefits. Additionally, not all veterans are eligible for every benefit.

 

To learn more about the cost of continuing care retirement communities and answer any more questions you may have, visit our blog, How to Afford the Cost of Assisted Living. Now that you know the general cost of continuing care, let’s talk about how long your loved one can stay in continuing care.

 

How Long Can My Loved One Stay At a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Most people that come to live at a CCRC do so for as long as they need, with the exception of those staying in our Rehab Center for short-term recovery. Living at a continuing care retirement community means that we can evaluate you or your loved ones’ needs and add services dependent on their current needs, whereas nursing homes look at only the medical care provided to the residents. 

 

At Grace Pointe, the progression of our continuing care changes based on your loved ones’ level of care. We offer Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Long Term Care. Each provides different levels of care and independence provided to the residents while ensuring they have a wide array of stimulating activities to choose from. 

 

What Should I Pack When I Move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community? Can I Bring My Own Furniture?

The benefit of choosing a continuing care retirement community over a nursing home is that you can personalize your room to make it your own. This includes sentimental items such as special furniture. If you find that you need more space but we do not currently have the room size you want, you can move to a bigger room when it becomes available. Our current residents have priority when it comes to room choices.

 

Although it’s encouraged to bring items that are important to you, you don’t have to bring the entire house. We have created a custom moving checklist to make packing easy for you, so you can focus on getting settled.

Grace Pointe Continuum of Care

While nursing homes provide basic medical care, CCRCs offer a combination of an active lifestyle, access to different levels of healthcare, and personalized senior care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term care that includes skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services. CCRCs are designed to provide a hospitable place to live where caretakers listen and learn from each resident, providing enriching social programming, restaurant-style dining, engaging activities, and other amenities. 

Understanding what differentiates a continuing care retirement community from a nursing home community will help you compare senior living options and find the best fit for you or your loved one. Ready to start learning more about the community and care services at Grace Pointe? Contact us today, and we can answer any questions or concerns you may have or schedule a virtual tour!

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