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 Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) right for you?

Giving up a life of self-determination and independence to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community is a big decision and one that ought not to be taken lightly.

Moving to a CCRC offers a lifestyle that supports active living while residents remain independent but that gives them the security of having standby care available at various levels if, or when, they need that care. 

As a general rule in today's market the best value for CCRC living comes for those who move to such communities when they are relatively young since the one-time entrance fee is then amortized over a longer period.

CCRC communities vary widely in the what is included in the entry and recurring fees and what incurs additional charges.  They also vary widely in the financial strength of the balance sheet and in the commitment of the management toward residents or toward other interests.

Still, a CCRC has the potential to be the best of all possible worlds, offering the freedom of an adult living community and the standby support of the care services, all on one campus so a person can stay in familiar surroundings as one grows older.

Before committing to any particular community it’s important for the prospective resident to carefully investigate all aspects of the community relative to your or the prospective resident's financial and psychological capacity to bear any risks that may be inherent in the arrangement.

To the right are some questions to ask yourself before committing to signing a contract with a CCRC that may appear attractive solely on the basis of externals like the attractiveness of the building, the size and layout of the residential unit, and the current state of food service.  Externals can be misleading and it’s important to probe beneath the surface to be sure that the contract is one that you are willing to live with and that financial risks are risks that you are prepared to accept


Less than obvious questions to ponder before deciding

Will you be better off financially, socially, physically, spiritually by moving to a CCRC than you would be staying where you are or moving to other forms of congregate living, which range from naturally occurring retirement neighborhoods to active living communities to assisted living and more?

If the CCRC balance sheet is impaired, will your entry fee be used to offset past losses instead of providing benefits for you?  Can you afford to risk the loss of your entry fee?

If the CCRC offers a refund that is payable only when the residential unit is reoccupied, will your entry fee be used to pay a refund to a predecessor resident instead of providing benefits for you?

If you transfer temporarily to the nursing center, do you have to pay the fees both for your residential unit and for the nursing care?  Do they charge for your meals in both the residential fee and in the nursing fee, requiring you to pay twice?

If you require care that the CCRC is not licensed to provide, will the CCRC continue to charge you the same with the CCRC absorbing the cost of the external provider?  If not, will your entry fee be subject to pre-death forfeiture or to the contingent refund provisions as though you had voluntarily left?

If you are transferred against your will to another care level, who has the final say as to whether the transfer will take place?  Is the transfer decision appealable?

If there is a dispute under the contract, will you be required to submit to arbitration in a forum for which the CCRC is a frequent client?

How are changes in fees determined from year to year?  What input do residents have into the fee determination process?  How have historical fee changes compared with industry averages?

Are you prepared to accept the loss of freedom to make decisions fully on your own and to share decision authority with others or to be subject to decisions made by management or owners?  How are resident views recognized at the CCRC which you are considering?

Note: The material provided here is intended to help you to think of the things you will want to consider in making your decision.  The decision is yours and, while we are seeking to be fair and objective, the information provided here is only complete to the best of our knowledge and belief. We welcome any corrections or additional information.

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