Moving into a long-term care community can significantly improve your quality of life by reducing responsibilities, alleviating fears of isolation and ensuring a helping hand is always available. For many older adults, the decision to move out of their houses and into a long-term care community is difficult. Once you’re settled into your new home, the last thing you want to think about is going through the process again if the community you choose doesn’t work long term. To ensure you choose the care option that’s right for your current and future needs, it’s helpful to understand the types of communities available.

If you want freedom from the responsibilities of maintaining a home and access to time-saving chore services, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities are both practical options. While both community types are for older adults who benefit from daily assistance, they have unique features. Depending on your goals, budget and lifestyle preferences, one may be a better fit for your needs. Through this guide, you can learn more about assisted living facilities and CCRCs, including their key features, benefits and drawbacks.

Assisted Living

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)




Care Provided

  • Help with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Medication reminders
  • Housekeeping and linen services
  • Daily meals
  • Housekeeping and chore services
  • Assisted living services
  • Skilled nursing services


$4,500 per month

Varies by contract type

Who Should Consider It

  • Older adults who need help with daily activities
  • Older adults unable to safely live alone
  • Older adults at risk of social isolation or loneliness
  • Older adults who want to be able to remain in their home, even as their care needs evolve
  • Older adults who want a low-maintenance lifestyle
  • Older adults who don’t want the hassles of maintaining a home

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs, are residential facilities that provide a full spectrum of services under one roof. These communities typically provide independent living for active seniors, assisted living for those who need daily help and skilled nursing for those with medical needs. This makes it possible for residents to remain in their homes throughout retirement, even if their needs change.

CCRCs offer a wide range of amenities to promote a comfortable lifestyle. Some communities have on-site fitness centers, swimming pools and beauty salons. They host social and recreational activities to help residents build social connections, and many allow pets. Housing options also vary and may include detached houses and cottages, townhomes, apartments and suites. Around-the-clock security monitoring and emergency call systems are usually available to all residents.

What Services Do CCRCs Provide?

CCRCs provide three meals daily, along with regular housekeeping and maintenance services. Residents receiving higher levels of care may get linen and laundry services as part of their package, while active seniors may have access to on-site laundry facilities. Communities host social and recreational activities throughout the week, such as arts and crafts classes, games, movie afternoons and holiday celebrations. They may also have fitness classes to keep residents active and independent. Transportation services are available for personal errands, as well as community-planned outings.  

How Much Does This Care Option Cost?

The cost of continuing care varies considerably across the country, as well as across communities, making it difficult to estimate out-of-pocket expenses. In most cases, residents pay an upfront entrance fee or deposit. This fee can range between $20,000 and $550,000, but it may be higher if you choose an upscale community in a region with a high cost of living. Along with the move-in fee, residents pay monthly service fees for as long as they live in the community. Again, this amount varies depending on the facility’s location and amenities, but it also depends on the resident’s contract.

Type A contracts are typically the most expensive, but they may save you money in the long run, depending on your care needs. With this contract, you’re guaranteed unlimited access to skilled nursing services at any point during your time as a resident, at minimal or no additional cost. Type B contracts cover a specific number of days you can receive medical services. Any skilled nursing services you require beyond the scope of your contract come with an additional fee. Type C contracts are the most affordable, but they don’t provide any coverage for skilled nursing services. If you need this level of care later, your out-of-pocket expenses could be very high.

Who Should Consider CCRCs?

CRRCs are ideal for those who want the security of knowing that if their care needs change, their housing situation doesn’t have to. They’re also great for independent and active seniors who don’t want the hassle of keeping up with a house and those who are seeking a quiet, safe community with access to convenient services and amenities.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities provide nonmedical daily services in a residential setting. While exact services vary by state, most assisted living facilities provide assistance with daily living activities, such as grooming, bathing and eating, along with housekeeping, daily meals and recreational activities. These facilities may be comprised of studio, one- or two-bedroom apartments and have indoor and outdoor common areas, including lounges, movie theaters and beauty salons. Some communities feature upscale amenities, such as multiple dining options, swimming pools, putting greens and concierge services, and many permit small pets.

What Services Do Assisted Living Facilities Provide?

Assisted living facilities are for those who don’t have extensive medical needs but need an extra hand with some daily activities. Examples of services you may get through assisted living include medication reminders, help with bathing or grooming, housekeeping and transportation for errands and medical appointments. Depending on the state you live in, your local assisted living facilities may be permitted to provide limited skilled nursing services, such as medication administration or wound care. In other states, assisted living facilities can’t provide these services directly, but they may contract with a third party that does.

How Much Does This Care Option Cost?

Assisted living rates vary considerably, depending on numerous factors, including the local cost of living and state regulations. In general, Alaska and Rhode Island are the most expensive places in the nation to obtain care with local fees averaging over $6,800 per month, while Missouri is the cheapest at $3,000, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Overall, the national monthly cost of assisted living is $4,500, making it a relatively budget-friendly option for long-term care.

In addition to the monthly rate, some facilities charge a move-in fee. Depending on the pricing structure, you may have to pay additional fees for transportation services, community-sponsored activities, skilled nursing services and food beyond what’s included in the basic meal package.

Who Should Consider Assisted Living?

Assisted living may be ideal for you if you need help with daily living activities and staying in your current home isn’t feasible. It’s also a good option for older adults who are at risk of social isolation or hunger.