What are Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and Why Should Seniors Consider Them?


Florida Senior Consulting

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Apr 05, 2023


Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

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What are Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and Why Should Seniors Consider Them? 

March 30, 2023

What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a type of retirement community that offers a range or continuum of care – including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care – all on one campus. 

Also known as Life Plan Communities, CCRCs allow seniors to receive different levels of care within the same community as their needs change. With this model, seniors do not have to move communities every time they need a different level or type of care. Instead, they can receive all types of senior care in one location, therefore maintaining stability in their familiar community. 

How are CCRCs different from nursing homes and other retirement living options?

Many older adults decide to move to independent living or retirement communities when they want a maintenance-free lifestyle with a variety of amenities. Other seniors move to dedicated assisted living communities or nursing homes to receive specialized, higher-level care. These facilities have their purpose, and for many people, they are a good option.

But more often than not, these different types of communities are completely separate from one another. Each community has their own staff members, residents, living arrangements, services, food, amenities, features, layout, and culture. 

For example, imagine Frank, a Florida senior, lives in a community that offers only independent living. But, Frank develops a health condition and has to move to assisted living in a completely different community across town. This transition would lead to a major – and probably difficult – lifestyle change for Frank. 

Frank has already become comfortable, established a routine, and made friends in his independent living community. But, now he must start over in a brand new setting.

This is a situation in which many seniors find themselves. But, it is one that can be avoided by moving to a CCRC. 

If Frank would have moved to a CCRC from the beginning, he could have had a seamless transition between different units on the same campus, with the same friends, activities, and food. He would not have had to endure such a stressful transition. Instead, he could have the stability of staying in his own familiar setting while receiving the care he needed.

This scenario is how CCRCs are different from nursing homes and other senior living options. Dedicated assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, and memory care communities are focused on one level or type of care. However, a CCRC offers all different levels of care, so seniors have confidence that they will be able to stay in the same community as they age.

Levels of care provided by CCRCs

While every CCRC is different, most offer a continuum of four main levels of care:

  1. Independent living

Usually independent living is the first step to moving to a CCRC. Independent living is best for active seniors who want to maintain their independence while remaining social, living a maintenance-free lifestyle, and enjoying available amenities.  

  1. Assisted living

If a senior’s health or needs change, they can receive the next level of care available at a CCRC: assisted living services. Assisted living gives residents access to round-the-clock medical and/or custodial care. They also can receive help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing and bathing, while still remaining as independent as possible. 

  1. Memory care

Most CCRCs have dedicated memory care units for seniors who have dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments. Memory care units employ specially-trained staff and have spaces that are physically designed to keep residents safe. Thoughtfully-planned activities are offered to keep memory care residents engaged and social.

  1. Skilled nursing

Skilled nursing is another care level within CCRCs. Like assisted living, skilled nursing includes round-the-clock health and custodial care. However, skilled nursing care is focused on rehabilitation in the short-term. For example, seniors who are recovering from an injury or need specialized therapy after a stroke would receive care in the skilled nursing unit. 

What services does a CCRC provide?

CCRCs in Florida offer a wide variety of services and amenities. Below are some common features of CCRCs:

Professional Healthcare Services

In CCRCs, various levels of health services are available to accommodate different needs. Along with independent living, most CCRCs offer assisted living, skilled nursing services, and memory care. Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) is also available to residents of CCRCs. 

Along with these services, many CCRCs offer physical and occupational therapy, as well as mental health and nutritional counseling. Other common medical services available at CCRCs include dentists, primary care practitioners, and onsite pharmacies.

Lifestyle services

One of the main benefits of CCRCs is a convenient, maintenance-free lifestyle. Residents can take advantage of the many lifestyle services that are located onsite within the community without having to make a trip to a busy shopping center or store.

Some examples of lifestyle services that may be present in a CCRC include a beauty salon, barbershop, bank, post office, retail shops, and dining establishments.

Along with these offerings, many services are in place in CCRCs to remove the burden of managing a home. These services include housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, transportation, security, and meal preparation.

Community amenities

CCRCs offer a wide variety of amenities that residents can take advantage of to stay active, socialize, and enjoy life.

Some amenities commonly found in CCRCs include swimming pools, fitness centers, walking trails, outdoor spaces, game rooms, craft rooms, theaters, libraries, tennis courts, golf courses, events, outings, and many more.

Benefits of a CCRC

Moving to a CCRC in Florida is a big lifestyle change, but it comes with many advantages. Some of the benefits are as follows:

  • Maintenance-free lifestyle – no cooking, grocery shopping, home repairs, cleaning, or yard work required

  • More opportunities to stay social, active, and engaged

  • Guaranteed onsite access to different levels of health care if the need arises

  • Stability and familiarity when moving between care levels

  • No need to tour new communities, pack belongings, hire movers, and sign new contracts as care needs change

  • Possible tax benefits

  • Peace of mind about safety and well-being

With help from friends and family, as well as medical, legal, and financial professionals, seniors can decide if moving to a CCRC is right for them.  

What is the best age to enter a CCRC?

The best time for older adults to enter a CCRC is when they are ready for a maintenance-free lifestyle, but are still able to live independently. This can be true at different ages for different people. 

Most CCRCs allow adults to move into independent living after they turn 55, but this age requirement can vary depending on the community. 

When moving to a CCRC, people are usually required to begin their contracts in independent living rather than other levels of care. It is not common to be able to start at the assisted living or skilled nursing care level in a CCRC.

How much do CCRCs cost?

Like any senior living community, the cost of a CCRC can vary. However, most CCRCs charge an entry fee. According to NIC, the average entry fee is about $402,000, but can range from $40,000 to more than $2 million. 

After this initial cost, residents pay a monthly fee that covers maintenance and services. In 2021, the average monthly fee was $3,555, with rent typically rising about 2% each year. 

However, some CCRCs do not charge an entry fee. Instead, they use a rental model, with the average monthly charge also being $3,555. 

A CCRC’s entrance fee might also be determined by the type of residence you choose, as well as its location and size. Expectedly, a larger style home in a prime location will have a higher entrance fee than a smaller apartment in a less-popular location.

Is a CCRC a good investment?

Naturally, many people wonder if CCRCs are worth the money. While the costs seem expensive at first glance, it is important to remember that moving to a CCRC is an investment in your future health and well-being.

Some consider the entry fee for a CCRC similar to a down payment when buying a home. But, this fee also includes guaranteed housing and health care services as you age for the rest of your life. 

To that end, many people invest in moving to a CCRC by selling their current homes and using the profit to afford the entry and monthly fees.

Overall, many seniors feel like moving to a CCRC is a wise investment to guarantee a high quality of life and care in the future. 

Does Medicare cover the cost of CCRCs?

Medicare does not cover the costs of CCRC housing, food, and non-medical care. But, Medicare may cover skilled nursing care within a CCRC under certain conditions.

What are the different categories of life care contracts within a CCRC?

It is important to go over CCRC contracts closely to understand the different options and what you get with each. Though some less common types of contracts exist, there are three main types of life care contracts for CCRCs:

  1. Type A - Extensive life care contracts

While this option has the highest entry and monthly fees, it does include a full range of services and is the most comprehensive contract type. Specifically, residents can take advantage of assisted living, skilled nursing care, and medical treatments with little or no extra cost. Usually if seniors wish to enter this type of contract, they are required to have no pre-existing conditions that require higher levels of care at the time of entry.

  1. Type B - Modified life care contracts

This contract comes with lower initial and monthly fees. But, these fees will only cover the cost of a certain amount of future care. This means that the resident can only use a set number of “free” health care days. After that, they must pay the normal rate for extra health care.

  1. Type C - Fee-for-service contracts

This contract has a lower entry fee than the other types. Usually, independent living costs are covered with this type of contract, but any higher levels of care (i.e. assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing) are not included. Therefore, when residents begin to need these higher levels of care, their monthly fee will increase.

How to find a CCRC near me

When it comes to retirement, many people dream of a stress-free lifestyle filled with nice weather, friends and fun activities. And a Florida CCRC is the perfect place to experience that vibrant lifestyle.

There are approximately 86 CCRCs in the state of Florida, most of which are located in Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, and Palm Beach. But how do you find the right CCRC for you?

That’s where Florida Senior Consulting comes in.

We are local to Florida with expert knowledge of the Florida senior living market. We are familiar with all the CCRCs in the area and know the best ones to choose.

We believe senior living should always be on your terms.

Our expert senior advisors will listen to your needs and preferences when it comes to independent living. Then, with your input and feedback, we will personally find the perfect CCRC for you and your situation. 

We’ll even check on you for up to 90 days after your move to ensure your smooth transition and satisfaction.

No matter how long it takes, we are with you from start to finish, and even beyond. 

Call us at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com today to get started making your dream a reality.

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