A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a type of senior housing that provides multiple levels of residential, custodial, and health care services at one location. At a CCRC, you will find independent living units, an assisted living facility, sometimes a dementia or memory care unit, and a nursing home. A senior usually enters a CCRC as an independent living resident and, in exchange for an entrance fee, is guaranteed on-site assistance with activities of daily living and health care, without having to move elsewhere for the rest of his or her life. Simply put, as a resident’s custodial and health care needs change, they are able to stay in the same community. The concept especially appeals to couples who, because of the continuum of lifetime services, can stay close to each other even if their health needs drastically differ over time. For independent living residents, amenities are provided that are comparable to those offered in an independent living community (Link to Senior Housing Options: Independent Living Communities Post 1, Series 2).

In addition to the entrance fee, which guarantees the continuum of care for the resident’s lifetime, CCRCs charge a monthly fee, as does an independent living community or an assisted living facility. This monthly fee covers amenities and services provided to the resident and can increase as the level of care increases. By opting for a CCRC and entering into a contract upon entry, seniors should not have to worry about where they will live for the rest of their lives, how they will be cared for as they age, and how much it will all cost.

Before signing a contract, review the terms, conditions, and requirements of the contract. Here are some items within the contract to review carefully:

•          Under what circumstances a resident can cancel a contract;

•          The refundability of the entrance fee;

•          An explanation of all fees and under what circumstances they can be increased;

•          A list of all services covered by the monthly service charge and all those available for an extra fee;

•          If you outlive your money, does the CCRC have a “benevolence fund” or “resident assistance fund” and are you eligible to access it?  If you utilize the benevolence fund, will the CCRC have access to your estate and to what extent?

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Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning