March 2, 2011

Why Continuing Care Retirement Communities? An attractive Lifestyle Option!

Morrison,-Bob-colorBy Bob Morrison
Development Director of Ridgecrest Village

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) provide an attractive lifestyle option that has been around for decades nationally, but since the mid 1980s has dramatically evolved. These retirement campuses are especially attractive to seniors making decisions for their long-term care future. They allow seniors to convert home equity or other assets into housing and to receive daily living services and health care in ways that keeps monthly expenditures more stable. They may experience nearly all levels of nursing service, all within the same village.

This residential alternative for adults, usually 62 or older, provides flexible housing options, a coordinated system of services and amenities, and a continuum of care that addresses the varying health and wellness needs of residents as they grow older. The CCRC model enables residents to avoid having to move outside the community. If needed, they may experience additional levels of nursing service, all within the same village. Remaining within the community allows the resident to continue their existing relationships with a spouse and friends, avoid the stress of a move, and receive health care, if needed, in an environment they know and trust.

Ridgecrest Village is the oldest and most established CCRC in the Quad Cities area. Understanding the benefits of continuing care and especially “Life Care” has made quality living possible and affordable for many forward looking seniors.

Some unique features of CCRCs include:

• The ability for mature adults to eat together, enjoy activities, and socialize with spouse and friends in the same campus is desirable. This is even more beneficial should friends become spread between independent living, assisted living, and full nursing care.
• Secure private accommodations and common area amenities in a variety of styles and with a wide range of pricing options
• A single location offering a “continuum of services” including dining, housekeeping, social and recreational programs, transportation, spiritual care, and health-care services, as needed
• Possible income-tax deductions in the form of a medical expense deduction for certain fees paid
• The not-for-profit CCRCs offer protection against the loss of accommodations and services if the resident exhausts his or her funds

Services and fees for CCRCs are designed to give choices and meet the needs of the individual senior. An estimated 65% of CCRCs offer contracts that include a lump-sum initial entrance payment. A large majority of these offer some degree of refundability to the resident or to their estate.

One payment plan is used by nearly all retirement programs. The “Fee-for-service” option is simply a monthly rental fee, sometimes with a security deposit and/or a community fee to cover program expenses, move-in costs, or document fees. Charges vary depending on the amount of service provided.

The second option offered by the most stable CCRCs is called “Life Care”. This plan gives security to an individual or couple by protecting against higher costs of most future medical accommodations. An entrance fee provides a room with the appropriate level of care in Assisted Living, Memory Care, or Full Nursing Services, should they be needed, without raising monthly rates, except for additional meals. This is particularly beneficial for a couple when one of them needs the extra service but the other does not. They pay only the same low independent monthly cost even though they live in separate areas and receive different amounts of care.

A third plan is a Modified contract or “Refundable Entrance Fee” option. Should your medical needs require Assisted Living or Full Nursing Care, you receive 10 free days of higher level care; then a large percent of your Entrance Fee is refunded. After the 10 days, you pay market prices for the level of care provided. Many prefer this plan as they have long-term care insurance and/or would rather be in control of their finances.

No matter which financial plan is chosen, the CCRC gives the most care options, takes away unwanted moving hassels, and builds a level of security and peace of mind for both the resident and their family.