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Continuing Care Guide: What Are CCRCs?

By , Caring.com senior editor
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What is a continuing care community, and who should move there?

How does a continuing care community work? Also known as a life-care community, a continuing-care community is the "one-stop shopping" of the retirement world -- a campuslike setting (or an urban high-rise) that offers everything from independent living units through assisted living and nursing home care, all in one place.

Generally, a continuing-care retirement community (CCRC) will expect an older adult to move in when he's still healthy enough to live independently. As residents age and their needs change, they can get a greater level of care without having to uproot themselves. They can also stay within the community and receive short-term nursing care if they need it after an illness or injury, then move back to independent or assisted living once they recover. If they move in as a couple, even if one becomes ill and requires much more care than the other, they'll be able to remain near each other, if not in the same apartment.

Meals, housekeeping, activities, and some medical care are usually included in the contract (although this varies from one community to another, so be sure to check).

Who should move there? A CCRC is a good option for people who value security. Knowing that no matter how their health changes down the line, their needs will be met and they won't have to move can bring great peace of mind. If the person you've been caring for is becoming socially isolated as he ages and would welcome an opportunity to make new friends and share in group activities, this can also be a great choice.

If, on the other hand, your friend or relative values independence over security, continuing care may not be his best option. To join such a community, he'll likely be handing over a large chunk of his assets to secure a spot, and CCRC administrators will play a big role in deciding when he needs to move from one level of care to the next.

You can request a list of accredited CCRCs in your area from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities at (520) 325-1044 or www.carf.org. A geriatric care manager can also help you explore options in his area.