Continuing Care Retirement Communities – Are They Right for Your Loved One?

Moving can be a hassle, no matter your age. That said, relocating as a senior presents a unique set of challenges. Unfortunately, many seniors have to move several times in their golden years in order to receive the proper care they need. Wouldnt it be nice if seniors could forgo the need to move to a new facility every time their needs change?

That idea is the guiding principle of continuing care retirement communities, or life plan communities. Keep reading to find out more about this unique senior living option and if its the best fit for your loved ones.

What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Our medical needs change as we age, and our living situations often have to change so that we can get the care we need. For example, many seniors move into assisted living communities early into their retirement years, as they only need limited assistance on a daily basis. They may later have to move to a totally new facility if they later require more medical attention than their current location provides. This move can be incredibly stressful for older adults and their families.

Thats where continuing care communities, or CCRCs, stand out. They are senior living communities that offer a wide range of healthcare services for older adults in need of long-term care. In other words, CCRC residents can live on a single campus for the rest of their lives and have their health care needs met by the communitys trained caregivers and staff, all without having to move to a different location.

This permanency offers a high level of comfort and stability to residents, giving them peace of mind that their needs will be met at their current home.

Levels of Care

CCRCs offer a continuum of care, with residents only receiving and paying for the services they need while knowing that they can increase their current care levels should the need arise. While each CCRC will differ in the exact levels of care and amenities they offer, the following are some common care levels CCRC residents can expect at most locations.

Independent Living

Independent living refers to a type of senior living arrangement where residents require little to no assistance with daily activities. Because of this fact, independent living communities offer their residents a high degree of autonomy and amenities not seen in many other senior living communities, such as swimming pools.

Some CCRCs offer independent living options in the form of senior condos or apartments, complete with garages and parking spaces for residents and their guests.

Assisted Living

An assisted living facility offers a higher level of care than an independent living location does. Assisted living staff help residents with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, toileting, and dressing.

Virtually all CCRC residents can expect the option to receive assistance with ADLs.

Memory Care

Memory care can refer to a dementia ward within an assisted living facility or CCRC or it can refer to a specialized facility with its own campus. A memory care facilitys primary purpose is to provide care to people with serious memory problems, such as those with Alzheimers disease.

Most CCRCs offer some form of memory care services for residents.

Skilled Nursing Care

Skilled nursing facility (SNF) is the technical term for a nursing home. Locations that offer skilled nursing care offer around-the-clock medical care and attention to residents.

Most CCRCs offer skilled nursing care services in their communities.


As is the case with every other kind of senior living arrangement, potential residents should expect fees for living at a CCRC.


There are four primary types of CCRC contracts potential residents should expect; which one the resident chooses will affect how they are billed for the services they receive. They are:

  1. Type A (Extensive Life Care) – Usually requires an entry fee (potential for refunds) and monthly fees. Often provides priority access to the CCRCs healthcare services.
  2. Type B (Modified Life Care) – Usually requires both an entry fee and monthly fees. Can offer a finite number of free healthcare service days or perpetually offer a low rate for healthcare services.
  3. Type C (Fee for Service) – Usually offers lower entry and monthly fees than Types A and B. Healthcare services are often not offered at discounted rates.
  4. Type D (Rentals) – No entry fee but have monthly or annual rates. Priority access to healthcare is not as common with rentals as is the care with other CCRCs.

Entrance Fees

Many CCRCs require a one-time entry fee for people to enter their communities. How much the fee itself is will vary by location, and many CCRCs offer a 50% (or more) refund of this entrance fee to survivors when the resident passes or moves.

Depending on the type of contract and the location someone chooses, the entry fee can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Monthly Fees

Most CCRC residents pay monthly service fees in addition to their one-time entry fee. These fees will vary based on several factors, such as the type of services needed and where the person lives.

That said, residents who first paid an entry fee can expect to pay between $2,000 to $4,000 in monthly fees. Residents who have not paid an entry can expect to pay more, usually between $3,000 to $6,000.

Financial Resources

There is no sugarcoating the fact that senior care in the United States is expensive. Fortunately, there are financial resources available for eligible seniors looking to move into a CCRC. Medicare and Medicaid may help pay for services received at CCRCs, but only if the facility itself is Medicare or Medicaid certified.

Final Thoughts

There is no one-size-fits all senior living arrangement. For seniors who prioritize familiarity and stability, a continuing care retirement community may be the right choice. By offering a continuum of care across one community, seniors will likely be able to live in one location for the rest of their lives, giving them a sense of comfort and security that other senior living communities cant hope to match.