Continuing care retirement communities, commonly referred to as CCRCs, are among the most popular choices for seniors looking to retire to a community setting. CCRCs provide not just independent living with convenient amenities and services, such as home maintenance, meals, engagement programming and more, but also offer additional levels of healthcare services for if or when support needs develop. Many communities provide various levels of assisted living, rehabilitation services and memory care support. These options are ideal solutions for seniors who want peace of mind for their future. Now you just need to choose – which CCRC is right for you?
If you’re just starting your search, you might be thinking that all continuing care retirement communities are the same. While it’s true that most CCRCs offer similar types of services, such as living accommodations, basic utilities and special programming, it’s safer to assume that no two communities are alike. Communities differ in the types of care services they offer, whether or not they offer meals and dining, the extent of their community programming and what’s included in your monthly fee. In addition to services and amenities, every community will have a different atmosphere. This will attract different kinds of people, so it’s important to choose the community that feels most like home to you.
There are countless aspects to consider when choosing a continuing care community. To help you get started, we’ve listed the top five considerations everyone should acknowledge before making a decision about moving to a community.
5 CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHOOSING A CCRC
- CARE LEVELS AVAILABLE
Although you may be at your best health today, you never know what medical conditions or health problems might occur down the road. If you think the likelihood of requiring care support as you age is high, then you should narrow your search to communities that offer assisted living services as well as skilled nursing support or memory care.
Many retirees are choosing CCRCs as their residence due to different needs among couples. CCRCs make it possible for couples to remain in the same community if one spouse requires a higher level of care. These communities are usually well equipped to handle a wide range of health needs and offer easy access to services when residents’ needs change. You can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you won’t have to move to another community if you or your spouse requires more support in the future.
- SERVICES OFFERED
It’s important to know what services are available at your chosen community in addition to care support. Do they have dining options, or will you need to continue cooking on your own? (Most communities offer three meals a day for assisted living residents, but not always for independent living). How often do they offer housekeeping services, yard upkeep or regular maintenance? Where can you park your car, or do they provide transportation? Are pets allowed?
Some of these questions may seem trite, but the little things often make the biggest impact on our daily comfort and convenience. Your own priorities matter most when choosing a CCRC. Do you want to move to where it feels like you’re at a five-star resort, or would you just be satisfied no longer needing to mow the lawn?
- FOCUS ON LIFE ENRICHMENT
You need to consider how much you desire from a senior living community when it comes to daily activities and opportunities for fun, recreation and socialization. Most leading communities offer full calendars of events, ranging from holiday parties and special performances. Some communities have an entire staff dedicated to activity programming. Others leave it up to the residents to form clubs and special interest groups.
Consider whether and how much the communities you’re looking into focus on the life-enrichment opportunities of their residents. Find out whether they take residents’ interests into account as they plan events, and if you’ll have daily options to choose from. Ask what types of activities they’ve done in the past and see if they interest you. Speaking to current residents may provide the most honest opinions about a community’s programming.
If you’ve chosen to move to a CCRC, you probably already know what you can afford. However, it’s important to consider more than just the bottom-line cost. Are the rates all-inclusive, or do they only cover the cost of rent? What kinds of fees are required (most communities have a one-time community fee)? What are the costs of different levels of care? How much should you expect your rate to go up each year? Ask if there are any special incentives going on that could help you save money.
- DOES IT FEEL LIKE HOME?
This last consideration may be the most important in making a final decision. How you feel when you visit a community is a huge indicator of how you will feel living there. Take your time and observe your surroundings: Is the property attractive? Are there outdoor spaces? Special amenities like a pool, park, garden or walking trails? Are the grounds well kept? Inside, does the style suit your tastes? Does the building require some upgrades?
The people who live and work at a senior living community play the biggest role in the community’s atmosphere. Are residents friendly? Do they seem to participate in community life, or do they mostly keep to themselves? Is the staff kind and helpful? These people will be your neighbors, after all, and it’s likely that you’ll make connections here that will help determine your happiness and social health. It’s important to feel like you belong within the community. Ask yourself if you can imagine living there for years to come.
Hopefully this list will help get you started on choosing the perfect continuing care retirement community for you. Every community has something different to offer, and you should do as much research as you can to know which ones will deliver the kind of lifestyle you want. As you choose what features, services and styles are most important, you’ll be able to narrow down your search to find the community that’s best for you.
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