5 Key Qualities to Look for in a Continuing Care Retirement Community

According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of people aged 65 and older is expected to reach 98.2 million by 2060. That means the senior population is more than doubling over a 40-year span.

More seniors are considering a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) as a way to age in place.

This option is a combined independent living, assisted living, and nursing home. If you're looking for care that's as close to home as possible, this is it!

However, not every two CCRCs are created equally. 

Finding the right continuing care retirement community requires research. It's a lot easier if you know what you're looking for, though. Throughout your search, keep a lookout for these five key qualities.

That way, you can find the CCRC that finally feels like home. 

1. Contract Clarity

For many seniors, it's important to maintain a high level of independence and quality of life. At a CCRC, you can choose to live in a single-family home or apartment within the community. Some CCRCs are even condo developments.

This gives seniors the independence they're searching for.

If they need additional help, however, it's within reach.

There are usually four types of CCRC contracts to choose from. This depends on the services you need. The contracts include:

  • Extensive/life contracts, which are the most expensive because they included unlimited assisted living and health services 
  • Modified contracts, which only include some health services in the initial monthly fee
  • Fee-for-service contracts, which offer a lower initial enrollment fee with market rates for health care services (requested as needed)
  • Rental agreements, which usually require no entrance fee but guarantee access to CCRC services as needed

When choosing a continuing care retirement community, you need to evaluate the contract and CCRC cost.

A CCRC is often the most expensive senior living option. Take note of what's included in your contract (and what's extra).

This report evaluated the cost of each CCRC contract type. While the fees depend on factors that are individual to the location, this can give you a starting point as you conduct your research.

You can also examine the facility's history. If monthly fees hike up more than four percent every year, it might not be the best fit. 

2. A Caring Community

Once you've developed a list of potential CCRCs to choose from, ask if you can stay a few days. This can help you develop a clearer picture of what the community is like. 

While you're there, try to determine if this is a caring community.

Though living in a CCRC offers residents their independence, it also offers a community of familiar people and surroundings. 

Ask yourself if the CCRC facility feels like a community. Would you feel at home here, or like an outsider?

To get a sense of the community, speak with some of the residents. They can give you valuable insight into the community lifestyle. Do they enjoy living there?

Ask about the services, staff, and level of care as well. You can even take note of how the residents interact with one another. That way, you have an unbiased view of the community.

Make sure to talk with the staff as well. Do they seem to genuinely care? Would you trust those staff members to help you if you were a resident? 

Ask about staff turnover, too. A facility with a new director every year doesn't sound promising.

Check on inspection reports, any complaint investigations, and licensing while you're there. 

That way, you can feel rest assured this CCRC is a safe living environment for the long-term.

3. Financials

Ask to see the facility's disclosure statement and any audited financial figures. 

The disclosure statement will indicate if the CCRC has the financial resources to continuously provide their services. 

Consider it a red flag if you see their expenses are higher than their operating income. Liabilities that exceed assets are a problem, too. 

You can have a financial adviser review the financial figures for you. That way, you know the CCRC is financially stable. 

4. Amenities

During your tour, ask about the facilities amenities. This can include a health center, wellness program, rehabilitation program, or pool.

Some centers even offer spas where residents can get a massage or facial. 

On the other hand, you might prioritize transportation services. Ask if the facility is located near public transit. If it's not, does the community offer transportation?

Other amenities might include high-speed Internet, a juice bar, or even priority access for sports tickets.

Keep an eye out for overlapping senior services, too. That way, you can take advantage of all the services and amenities the CCRC and surrounding areas offer. 

5. Advanced Care

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6 years. With the right care for seniors, however, we can improve this life expectancy.

Some continuing care retirement communities offer wings dedicated to memory care services. This can include Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

If you or a loved one requires advanced levels of care, make sure to prioritize those needs during your search. Advanced levels of care aren't always available in every community. 

Once you find a community that offers this care, ask about the occupancy rate. Facilities that are filled might have a difficult time keeping up with financial obligations. Meanwhile, a lower rate over an extended period of time can indicate problems with the facility. 

CCRCs with higher vacancies might offer incentives (a lower entrance fee or temporary monthly fee discount), so keep those in mind, too!

5 Key Qualities in a Continuing Care Retirement Community

The search is on! With these five key qualities to find in a continuing care retirement community, you can narrow down your search. Discover the perfect fit and everything you need in a CCRC with these tips. 

Find a continuing care retirement community in your area by using this free online tool. Then, you can find the perfect CCRC for yourself or a loved one.