Comprehensive Guide to CCRCs
This guide provides detailed insights into CCRCs, covering all aspects from an overview of the concept, the types of care provided, the financial considerations, benefits and drawbacks, how to choose the right CCRC, and more.
Whether you’re an older adult planning your future, a family member seeking the best options for loved ones, or a professional aiming to understand the evolving senior living landscape, this guide is tailored to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of CCRCs.
Table of Contents
- What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?
- What is the Best Time to Move Into a CCRC?
- What is the Difference Between Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing?
- How Much Does a CCRC Cost in NJ?
- What is the Best Age to Move into a CCRC?
- Is it True That A CCRC Lacks Social Events and Leads to Loneliness?
- What Are The Different Types of CCRCs?
- What is an Entrance Fee?
- Can The Entrance Fee Be Refunded?
- Is A Life Care Entrance Fee Tax Deductible?
- What is a Monthly Service Fee?
- What Types of Maintenance and Amenities are Covered by the Monthly Service Fee?
- What Are The Benefits of Choosing a Life Plan Community or CCRC?
- Do CCRCs Have 24/7 On-Site Staff?
- What Activities Do CCRCs Provide?
- How Do Meal Plans Work at a CCRC?
- What Are The Dining Options At A CCRC?
- Are CCRCs Safe?
1 - What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?
A CCRC is designed for seniors to meet their evolving needs. CCRCs offer a range of housing options, from independent living to skilled nursing care, in one location. Residents move to a CCRC when they are active and independent but want access to care if needed. They offer a continuum of care, with residents able to move from one level of care to another without leaving the community. CCRCs offer healthcare services, amenities such as dining options, fitness centers, and social activities, and may require an entrance fee and/or monthly fees.
2 - What is the Best Time to Move Into a CCRC?
The best time to move into a CCRC is while you are still independent and healthy, but want to simplify your lifestyle to start enjoying your retirement. Don’t wait until you have a medical need and have to scramble to change your living arrangements. Moving while you are still healthy can also keep you healthier for longer, with access to more care, wellness programs, more leisure time, and less stress.
By moving into independent living sooner rather than later, residents are able to maximize their enjoyment and independence by taking advantage of all that independent living has to offer right away, including on-site healthcare services. Better yet, independent living helps you to maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle. The sooner you decide to join a continuing care retirement community, the smoother your transition will be, giving you plenty of time to adjust to the new environment with your independence and forge lasting friendships along the way.
3 - What is the Difference Between Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing?
Seniors have various living options to choose from based on their care needs and personal preferences. These options include independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing:
- Independent Living: Designed for seniors who can manage their daily activities without assistance, independent living communities offer private apartments or homes within a community setting. Residents can maintain their independence while enjoying a range of amenities such as housekeeping, meal services, and recreational activities. This option is ideal for seniors who are still active and self-sufficient but desire a maintenance-free lifestyle and social opportunities with other seniors.
- Assisted Living: Assisted living communities cater to seniors who need help with some daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, or medication management. These communities provide a balance between independence and assistance by offering private apartments with personalized care plans. Residents can still engage in social and recreational activities, with the added benefit of having trained staff available to provide support when needed. Assisted living is a suitable option for seniors who require assistance but do not need round-the-clock medical care.
- Skilled Nursing: Skilled nursing facilities provide 24-hour medical care and supervision for seniors who have complex health conditions or require significant assistance with daily activities. These facilities employ licensed nurses and therapists who offer specialized care, including rehabilitative services and assistance with medication management. Skilled nursing is an appropriate choice for seniors who require a higher level of care, support, and medical attention.
Each living option addresses different levels of care and support, and it is essential for seniors and their families to assess their individual needs and preferences to make the most suitable choice for their circumstances.
4 - How Much Does a CCRC Cost in NJ?
While the cost of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in New Jersey may be a primary concern for many seniors and their families, it is essential to recognize that these communities offer a comprehensive package of amenities and services designed to enhance residents’ quality of life. The fees associated with CCRCs typically cover a wide range of benefits, including housing, meal plans, housekeeping, maintenance, and various recreational and social activities.
Additionally, many CCRCs provide access to comprehensive care, from independent living to skilled nursing, ensuring that residents have the necessary support as their needs change over time. Although the cost of CCRCs in New Jersey may vary depending on factors such as location, type of community, and individual care needs, it is crucial to weigh these expenses against the numerous advantages and peace of mind that CCRCs provide.
By focusing on the value offered by CCRCs, seniors can make more informed decisions about their long-term care and enjoy a fulfilling and secure retirement lifestyle. Remember, when you are comparing the costs between communities, it’s not just about bottom lines; it is extremely important to compare what services are included and which are not.
5 - What is the Best Age to Move into a CCRC?
The best age to move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) depends on individual circumstances and preferences, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Generally, seniors choose to transition into a CCRC when they are still relatively independent, but the sooner the better if they want to fully enjoy the benefits. The earlier residents move in, the sooner they’re able to establish social connections, engage in activities, and enjoy a higher quality of life while having the peace of mind knowing that increased levels of care are available as needed.
6 - Is it True That A CCRC Lacks Social Events and Leads to Loneliness?
Not in the slightest! Moving into a CCRC allows residents to immediately immerse themselves in the vibrant social atmosphere that these communities offer. By doing so, they can form lasting friendships, create strong social networks, and establish a sense of belonging within the community. CCRCs have a diverse range of social opportunities, such as clubs, hobby groups, classes, and events, which cater to a variety of interests. Engaging in these activities promotes mental and emotional health, combating any feelings of isolation and loneliness that may come with aging.
Additionally, being an active member of the community allows residents to contribute meaningfully to its growth and development, further enhancing their sense of purpose and fulfillment. In short, starting life in a CCRC can lead to a more connected, satisfying, and enriching social experience.
7 - What Are The Different Types of CCRCs?
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a range of living options and care services to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of seniors. There are several types of CCRCs, each providing different levels of care and services:
- Life Care: These CCRCs typically require an entrance fee and a monthly fee, but they provide a comprehensive care package that outlines predictable costs for all levels of current or potential future care. Residents have access to a full continuum of care without worrying about substantial cost increases as their needs change. Harrogate is a Life Care community and a JS Power Award winner for best in customer satisfaction with independent senior living communities 4 years in a row.
- Modified: These CCRCs require an entrance fee and a monthly fee but provide a limited set of care services. Residents can access some assisted living or skilled nursing care, after which additional fees may apply.
- Fee-for-Service: These communities require an entrance fee and a monthly fee, but residents pay for additional care services as needed. This option may be more cost-effective for seniors who anticipate fewer care needs in the future.
- Rental: Rental CCRCs do not require an entrance fee and instead charge monthly. Residents have access to independent living and may have the option to pay for additional care services as needed. This type of community offers more flexibility but may not guarantee access to a full continuum of care.
Each type of CCRC has its pros and cons, and individuals should carefully consider their financial situation, care needs, and personal preferences when selecting the most suitable option for their circumstances.
8 - What is an Entrance Fee?
An entrance fee is a one-time, upfront fee you pay to move into the independent living part of a senior living community. The amount of the entrance fee varies, depending on the size of the residence you choose, whether it will be just you or you and another person living in that residence, and the contract option you select. At a CCRC community requiring an entrance fee, you can expect multiple contract options offering varying levels of refundability to you or your estate. For example, at Harrogate, there are several contract options to select from that will guarantee you a refund.
9 - Can The Entrance Fee Be Refunded?
At a CCRC, you don’t actually own your residence; however, most CCRC agreements stipulate that refunds will not be paid until your residence is “resold and reoccupied.” As with any big financial decision, read the contract thoroughly, and ask lots of questions to understand exactly what you’ll be getting back, and when.
10 - Is A Life Care Entrance Fee Tax Deductible?
The IRS recognizes that a Life Care contract is one where you’re prepaying medical expenses, meaning a good portion of your monthly fees are tax-deductible. And that’s true whether you receive health care services or not. Generally, regardless of which type of contract you choose, deductions are available. Because tax deductions change frequently, it’s best to talk with your tax professional for all the details.
11 - What is a Monthly Service Fee?
Monthly service fees are just what the name suggests: a fee you pay every month that covers the services and amenities package associated with living at the community. The amount you pay depends on the size of your residence, how many people live there, and the range of services and amenities available to you in your level of living: independent living, assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing.
As seen in this article, housing, not health care, was the number one expenditure for retirees over 65. Housing costs include mortgage (if you have one), property taxes, insurance, utility bills, maintenance and homeowner’s association fees – but at a senior living community, these are the types of expenses your monthly service fee pays for, along with so much more.
12 - What Types of Maintenance and Amenities are Covered by the Monthly Service Fee?
Some of the many amenities and services that are included with your monthly service fee include, but are not limited to:
- All maintenance, both inside and outside your home.
- Regular housekeeping, which often includes flat linen service (at Harrogate, we provide this service weekly.)
- Utilities – usually all except for internet service and telephone.
- Scheduled transportation to events, shopping, and medical appointments.
- On-site 24/7 security.
- Emergency response system.
- A dining plan with a variety of dining choices and chef-prepared meals.
- Access to the community’s fitness offerings (Harrogate, for instance, has an indoor heated pool and fitness center with full-time instructor.)
- Use of all common spaces (at Harrogate, those include an auditorium with regularly scheduled performances, bocce ball courts, outdoor gazebos, walking trails, card rooms, woodworking shop, garden and dog park.)
- A full monthly calendar of outings, activities, events, etc.
13 - What Are The Benefits of Choosing a Life Plan Community or CCRC?
One of the primary benefits of independent living in a life care community is the peace of mind it provides for the future. With continuing care options available, residents can access healthcare services as needed, including our five-star CMS-rated Health Center at Harrogate. Additionally, independent living provides financial benefits, with predictable monthly expenses you can plan for, along with potential tax benefits. Finally, there is the joy of maintenance-free living, meaning there are no more home repairs or yard work to worry about, and there are both housekeeping and laundry services available.
14 - Do CCRCs Have 24/7 On-Site Staff?
Yes, Continuing Care Retirement Communities have staff on-site 24/7 to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents and generally include security personnel, nursing staff, and members of the administrative team.
The 24/7 staffing model allows for swift and effective responses to emergencies, including medical emergencies, where the presence of nursing staff can provide immediate attention and care. Additionally, the presence of security personnel ensures the safety of residents at all times, allowing them to feel peace of mind.
15 - What Activities Do CCRCs Provide?
Continuing Care Retirement Communities commonly offer a diverse array of activities designed to keep residents active, engaged, and fulfilled. The aim is to promote a vibrant lifestyle that caters to a wide range of interests and abilities. Some of the common facilities and activities include:
- Multiple Eateries: From formal dining halls to casual bistros, residents can enjoy a variety of dining experiences.
- Pool: Swimming pools offer opportunities for exercise and relaxation.
- Fitness Center: Equipped for various workouts, fitness centers often host exercise classes and personal training sessions.
- Woodworking Shop: For those who enjoy working with their hands, woodworking shops provide tools and space for creating projects.
- Outdoor Sports: Many independent living communities offer outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts, golf courses, or pickleball.
- Arts and Crafts: Creative activities can include painting, pottery, knitting, and more, sometimes with instructional classes.
- Libraries: For book lovers, CCRCs often maintain libraries for quiet reading and book clubs.
- Natural Trails: Walking, hiking, or bird-watching can be enjoyed on maintained natural trails within the community.
There is something for every resident to enjoy at an independent living facility, which helps cultivate a sense of community and greater quality of life.
16 - How Do Meal Plans Work at a CCRC?
Some communities provide full meal plans as part of the monthly fee, while others offer flexible meal plans, where residents have a certain number of meals per week or month that they can use at their convenience. Some CCRCs even operate similarly to resort dining, where residents pay for meals individually. Many communities also provide other food-related amenities like a café or bistro-style options for light meals or snacks.
Regardless of your preference, understanding a CCRC’s meal plan structure, along with its implications for your lifestyle and costs, is crucial.
17 - What Are The Dining Options At A CCRC?
CCRCs provide residents with a multitude of different dining options to cater to the diverse tastes of the community. The exact offerings may vary, but the typical dining options include:
- Main Dining Hall: Most CCRCs have a communal dining hall where meals are served at regular times. This setting promotes social interaction and often offers a varied daily menu.
- Casual Eating/Cafés: For a more relaxed dining experience or a light snack, many CCRCs feature on-site bistros or cafés.
- Specialty Restaurants: Some communities provide specialty or themed dining venues for a unique culinary experience.
- Personal Kitchens: For residents who prefer to cook for themselves, most living units in CCRCs come equipped with full kitchens.
- Private Dining Rooms: To host personal gatherings, some communities offer private dining rooms that can be reserved by residents.
Naturally, with so many diverse residents comes diverse dietary needs. As such, low-sodium, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free diets are usually provided.
18 - Are CCRCs Safe?
Yes! Communities such as ours are exceptionally safe living environments. In fact, many CCRC residents affirm that they feel safe in continuing care retirement communities as opposed to elsewhere.
The presence of 24/7 staff, including both full-time security and nursing staff, ensures immediate assistance in case of any emergencies or health issues, and CCRCs often mitigate common risks faced by seniors, such as isolation and falls. Additionally, the community environment encourages social interaction, which promotes better mental health and enjoyment of life.
Experience the full range of advantages, including a vibrant social atmosphere, personalized care, financial benefits, on-site healthcare services, and a maintenance-free lifestyle. Contact Harrogate Retirement Community today to schedule a tour and discover why it makes sense to move into an independent living community sooner rather than later.