Older adults painting together at a continuing care retirement community.
Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community Right for You?

CCRC is short for Continuing Care Retirement Community.

That’s a buzzword for a type of community that works well for many aging adults. Perhaps you or your loved ones.

In a CCRC, healthy, active seniors typically move into independent apartments. They pay an entrance fee, ranging from less than $450,000 to more than $1,000,000. The entrance fee reduces their monthly rent over what they’d pay in a comparable rental community. When a resident leaves the CCRC, part or all of the entrance fee often is returned to them or to their estate.

As in other communities, residents in a CCRC no longer worry about shopping, preparing meals and doing the dishes. Ditto for housekeeping and home maintenance. With the extra time, they can enjoy fun activities and fellowship with peers. If they give up driving, transportation is available.

A big difference: When independent residents of a CCRC need help with such things as bathing, dressing or medication management, they can move to on-site assisted living. And if they need either long or short-term nursing care, they can receive it in the on-campus health care center. As seniors travel through the system, they’ll know the staff and the residents. For many, that brings security.

A CCRC works particularly for several groups of seniors (assuming the entrance fee is within their budget.) See if your aging parent falls into one of these categories:

1. Your parents are both living, but worry how the survivor (usually Mom) will do when the other passes.

Typically when a couple moves into a CCRC, they begin developing friendships with neighbors. When a spouse dies, the survivor has support from others who’ve traveled the same road. Widows or widowers go out to dinner or to movies together. And sometimes, romance strikes the widowed, and marriage follows.

2. One of your parents cares for her spouse, who suffers from a chronic illness.

A CCRC offers the healthy spouse help with the domestic duties so she can focus on caregiving. He or she can easily take a break by attending activities and support groups on campus. If the ill spouse needs assisted living or nursing care, it’s an easy walk from the healthy spouse’s apartment.

3. If you are advocating for an aunt or uncle without children, a CCRC can be extremely helpful. 

When your relative needs more care, the staff in a CCRC will bend over backward to make the transition as easy as possible.

4. Your mother or dad is alone and needs companionship.

All types of retirement communities can help brighten someone’s outlook. When I talk to senior clients and their families, I often say, “Retirement living is a little like living in a dorm, sorority or fraternity. There’s a difference, though. No wild parties.”

Do you have any experience with CCRCs you’d like to share?