Many elderly Americans are opting to move into Continuing Care Retirement Communities; also called Continuum Care & CCRC. Although the concept is rapidly gaining popularity, it’s a concept that has been around for over 75 years.
Healthy citizens who can live independently decide to take the first step into housing for the aging process. As their medical needs evolve, they move from Independent Living onto Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care within the same CCRC.
Until health concerns must be addressed, a CCRC is much like an ‘all-inclusive resort’ with planned activities, gyms and swimming pools available, along with wellness plans and prepared meals.
According to Stephen Maag in the article The Real Deal About Retirement Communities published on January 17, 2012, the following are some advantages of a CCRC:
- Social interaction – a home-based support network and social programs for aging in place.
- New lifestyle – relaxation, freedom and choice.
- Programs and activities – preventive, holistic care.
- Peace of mind – health and social well-being ensures the concerns of older adults and their families are met.
- Wellness programs – including on-site fitness equipment.
- Dining options – from snack bars to complete meals providing health and wellness benefits.
- Transportation – for physician visits, religious services, shopping etc..
- Low-maintenance lifestyle – homeowner concerns of maintaining their own home are no longer relevant.
- Security – provides older adults and their families peace-of-mind; They are in a safe environment and not ‘home alone.’
Two other advantages a CCRC offers that Stephen Maag does not mention are:
- Couples stay together – As a married couple ages, the level of care the husband and wife require vary. For example the wife may be very active and healthy but the husband may require Skilled Nursing assistance. Within the CCRC concept they can still live in close proximity without the wife having to look after the home and commute to visit her husband.
- Planning ahead – When a milestone event such as a stroke, illness or injury happen in a CCRC the change in accommodations and care is smooth. If the senior is living at home when a milestone health event happens and the family is under pressure to find an Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing or Memory Care facility and they may not have an opportunity to consider all the options.
Most CCRCs require a substantial entrance fee which averaged $248,000 in 2010. Source: 1Q10 NIC MAP® Data. Often the entry fee is refundable when the member dies and a new resident pays their fee. Monthly fees are charged on top of the entry fee to cover maintenance, services, meals and care. The rates are often adjusted depending on the level of care necessary.
www.SeniorLiving.org, lists 34 Kansas City area Senior Living facilities. Although this is not an all-inclusive list, it sheds light on what services are currently provided by Senior Living / Senior Care facilities in our area. 14 out of 34 facilities offer Independent / Retirement Living in combination with at least an Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Memory Care or Hospice component. Only 6 of the 34 advertise themselves as a CCRC/Continuum Care facility.
However, as we communicate with a wide variety of Senior Living Operators and Developers regarding future projects, we get the sense that most upcoming projects will be either Independent Living or Continuum Care facilities drastically changing the blend of available facilities.