Thursday, April 3, 2014

Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community

One retirement option that is appealing to more and more retirees as they age is the concept of moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community.   These are a great choice for people who wish to move only once after they retire and stay in the same place for the rest of their life, without the stress of worrying about ever having to move again.

There are approximately 1,900 CCRC's in the United States.  The most popular states for them are Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa and North Carolina.

Cost of Moving to a CCRC

Although they appeal to a large number of retirees, moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community is not cheap.  Most of them require the residents to make a large upfront deposit that ranges from about $80,000 to $750,000 ... with a average of about $250,000.  In some cases, a portion of the deposit may be refunded to your heirs when you die, depending on how long you lived in the community.  While this may seem like an impossible amount of money for the average person, the majority of residents used the equity they received when they sold their home ... since they had no intention of moving back into a single family residence, again.

In addition, you will be expected to pay a monthly fee that covers your housing, meals and other amenities.  This can range from $1000 to $2700.  Again, while this may seem like a lot of money for some people, remember that it covers your rent, utilities, meals and transportation for the rest of your life.  This expense is affordable for many people who are planning to live off of their Social Security and/or pensions.  Therefore, while expensive, these communities are not as unaffordable as many people may first believe, although some people may need to supplement their Social Security or pensions with money from their retirement savings or other sources.

Types of CCRC's

Your community may be all-inclusive, taking care of nearly all your needs for the rest of your life; or they may be partially inclusive, where certain things are included and others are covered by private insurance; or they may be set up with a fee-for-service structure, where you only pay for what you use.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities vary in how they charge you for medical expenses and nursing care.  Some CCRC's include health-care costs.  In other cases, residents can use their private insurance, Medicare, and long-term care insurance to cover their medical needs and skilled nursing care. It is important to discuss this with management in advance, so you have a clear idea of how this will be handled.

Before you move in, expect the CCRC to evaluate your ability to cover your future anticipated expenses.

What to Expect in a CCRC

These communities are appealing residential communities, not old-fashioned nursing homes.  Residents live in private apartments or cottages.  Depending on the community a resident chooses, they may either have one meal a day or all of their meals served to them restaurant style.

Like other over-55 communities, the typical CCRC will have clubs, activities, entertainment, transportation, classes, swimming pools, shops, hair salons, and fitness facilities.  In addition, many of them have access to caregivers or skilled nursing care, often provided by outside contractors for an additional fee, for those who need it.  These residences also have modern amenities like cable television and Wi-Fi.

While the average age to move into a CCRC is about 80, some people do decide to move in while they are in their 60's and 70's, especially if they have have a chronic condition that makes it more difficult for them to prepare their own meals, drive their own cars, etc.  It is an ideal living situation for many senior citizens who are single, have had a heart attack or stroke, who are losing their eyesight, developing Parkinson's Disease, or have similar infirmities.  Younger adults are frequently delighted that they made this decision when they realize that they are still young enough to fully enjoy the amenities.  Older residents often say they wish they had moved in years before.

How to Find a Continuing Care Retirement Community

One way to search for a CCRC in the area where you want to live is to go to  This is the website of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities ... which evaluates and accredits both rehab facilities and retirement communities.

On the website, go to Home - Find a Provider.  Click on Advanced Search. Then enter the State and under Program scroll down until you find Continuing Care Retirement Communities.  When I entered this information for my home state of California, I found 24 CCRCs in my state that were accredited by CARF.  By clicking on the ones in the towns that interested me, I was able to learn more specific information about them.

Once you have a list of CCRCs that interest you, I highly recommend that you look at their individual websites and then go out and pay them a personal visit ... possibly more than once.

In addition to the CARF website, you may also find information on the CCRCs in your state by going on the website for the Department of Social Services in your state.  Their site should explain state regulations for these communities and answer some of your questions.  For example, in California, I learned a lot at, including finding a list of both non-profit and for-profit providers.  The state list was much longer and more comprehensive than the list on the website for, which indicated to me that there are many CCRCs that are not affiliated with CARF.

Moving into a Continuing Care Retirement Community is an appealing choice for many people and one that should be explored by anyone who wants the security of knowing that they have a permanent home for the rest of their life, regardless of changes in their health.

Resources: (from the California Department of Social Services)

"Understanding CCRCs," Where to Retire Magazine, January/February 2014. (website for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities)

If you are looking for more retirement information, use the tabs at the top of this page to find links to articles about where to retire in the United States and abroad, financial planning, medical issues, family relationships and more.

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  1. It's good to know there are so many different options in these communities. Nice article!

  2. This is a type of residential living that even I did not know much about until I started to research it. For many people, this is an excellent living arrangement.

  3. I've heard of specialized residential communities and I want to learn more about them. Would you happen to know of other specialized communities other than retirement? If you have any other information, I would greatly appreciate it.

  4. This is really a useful article for those who have in search of best CCRC. Actually I know about CCRC very well and currently my parents are living very happy life in a Florida CCRC and enjoying their vacations after retirement. I have learn number of things from this article and my past experiences in selecting a good place for my parents. Thanks for sharing this useful post. You have done outstanding work.


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