How To Receive Care for Life

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Moving is an arduous process, and it’s understandable that individuals may not want to make the transition more than once in this phase of their lives. For those who are looking to stay put, but also want a built-in support system, continuing care communities may help them achieve those goals.

What are CCRCs?
Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer long-term contracts that guarantee lifelong shelter and access to specified health care services.

CCRC residents enjoy an independent lifestyle when they are able, with the knowledge that if they become sick or frail, their needs will continue to be met. A staff of medical professionals is on hand to provide several levels of care, from independent living to nursing care.

Most CCRCs establish minimum requirements for incoming residents based on age, financial assets, income level, and physical health and mobility. In general, residents are expected to move into the community while they are still independent and able to take care of themselves. This way they can get to know the community and its residents while taking advantage of the ample amenities.

Who Needs a CCRC?
A good candidate is anyone who wants the security of knowing they will receive the necessary care for the remainder of their life while having the ability to age in one place and make a home of their own. Many CCRCs have several stages of care, including residences for independent living, assisted living and nursing care. A member can move up or down this continuum of care for the rest of their life, depending on the extent of their health.

How Do I Pay For a CCRC?
In return for guaranteed lifelong shelter, amenities and health care, residents usually pay a lump-sum entrance fee and regular monthly payments. There are three basic types of CCRC contracts: extensive, modified, and fee-for-service.

An extensive contract covers shelter, residential services, and amenities, plus unlimited long-term nursing care without an increase in monthly payments (except for normal increases related to operating costs and inflation adjustments). An extensive contract spreads the risk of catastrophic health care costs among all the residents of a community, so that no single person faces financial ruin. Entrance fees and monthly costs under extensive contracts are typically higher than those under modified or fee-for-service contracts.

A modified continuing care contract covers shelter, residential services, and amenities, plus a specified amount of nursing care. After the specified amount of care has been received, the resident can continue to receive care on an unlimited basis but must pay for it at daily or monthly nursing care rates.

A fee-for-service continuing care contract covers shelter, residential services, and amenities. While emergency and short-term nursing care is usually included in the contract, access to long-term nursing care is guaranteed only at daily nursing care rates. Entrance and monthly fees are lower under this type of contract because residents are responsible for all long-term nursing and health care costs.

It is highly advisable to have an attorney review a CCRC contract before any commitment is made.

Most CCRCs provide a variety of residential services, which may be covered by monthly fees or be available at extra cost, depending on the contract. Services routinely offered include meals, recreation facilities, apartment cleaning and maintenance, grounds maintenance, prescribed diet, transportation, utilities, and special care during illness.

What to Look For in a CCRC
Request an information packet from every CCRC you are considering. Read it carefully and visit each one. Dine with residents, talk with staff, read the residents’ handbook and try to immerse yourself as much as possible in the daily life of the community. Be sure to assess the management’s philosophy and its relationship with residents, keeping in mind your own needs,

Many adults who are familiar with the process of finding a CCRC recommend that you visit at least three to get a good grasp on your priorities. Keep excellent notes, and be sure to do research on the internet. Ask a trusted family member of close friend to visit communities with you.

Advice on evaluating a CCRC is offered in The Continuing Care Retirement Community: A Guidebook for Consumers. To order, call LeadingAge Publications at 800-508-9442.

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