August 17, 2021
Your parent is looking for a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and has asked for your opinion. How can you give the best possible advice?
It can be tricky to weigh in on such an important subject, especially if you’re new to the world of retirement living. To help you on your search, here’s what you should be evaluating when comparing different community options with your parent.
Related: 3 Reasons You Should Talk to Your Parent About Moving to a Lifecare Community
How to Choose a CCRC
First, let’s establish what we mean when we say continuing care retirement communities or CCRCs. For that, we’ll turn to AARP, which defines a CCRC as a type of retirement community that “offer[s] a tiered approach to the aging process, accommodating residents’ changing needs.”
To do that, CCRCs offer independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing services, and sometimes memory support.
You’ll also see CCRCs referred to as life plan communities, which is a term the industry is using more and more to reflect the active, holistic lifestyles these community types offer.
Another term you’ll come across that may seem confusing is “Lifecare community,” not to be confused with life plan community. A Lifecare community is a CCRC that offers a special Lifecare contract (more on contract types below).
So, with that in mind, here are some things to consider when helping your parent choose the best CCRC for their lifestyle.
1. Contract Options
Life plan communities or CCRCs offer different contract options to residents. When considering a community, ask what contracts they provide and what is included in each. You can usually find this information by downloading or requesting a brochure, but for details specific to your parent you’ll need to speak with a sales counselor.
Most contract types require entrance and monthly fees, and outline the services and amenities included in each.
Here are the most common CCRC contract types:
- Type-A (Lifecare). This contract typically requires the highest monthly fees since residents are prepaying for health care services they may need in the future.
- Type-B (Modified). This will usually have a lower monthly fee than Type-A. It includes the same residential services as the Type-A but residents may be responsible for some of the cost if additional health-related services are needed down the road.
- Type-C (Fee-for-Service). This is typically associated with the lowest monthly fees. However, fees are likely to increase if assisted living or skilled nursing are needed in the future, reflecting market rates.
- Rental. Rental contracts may not require an entry fee but typically have higher month-to-month fees. As with Type-C, you will pay full market rate for healthcare.
- Equity/Co-Op. In a co-op or equity contract, residents purchase real estate or ownership in place of an entrance fee. A monthly fee is required and higher levels of health services are typically only available on a fee-for-service basis.
2. Community Type
Within CCRCs, there are different community types. For example, a community could be for-profit or nonprofit. It could have religious roots. It may or may not be a Lifecare community, a community that offers the Lifecare plan.
This is not to say that one community type is necessarily better than the other. It all depends on which community is more appealing to your parents. Be sure to determine what category the community falls into, then discuss with your parent whether or not that type is appealing to them.
3. Financial Stability
One of the benefits of moving to a CCRC is that your parent won’t have to worry about moving again because all of their needs will be met in that one location. They can enjoy an active life, travel, spend time at their vacation home, pursue the things they love—all with the peace of mind that a CCRC brings.
However, you’ll want to do some research on how financially secure a CCRC is before they make their final decision. A trustworthy community will be more than happy to answer your financial questions and provide you with a balance sheet. Your financial advisor will also be able to help.
4. Services and Amenities
Residents get to enjoy a host of services and amenities that are usually inclusive of all contract types. When evaluating a community, look at a list of their services and amenities with your parent to determine if the offerings fit your parent’s interests and tastes.
Related: Life Enrichment: All I Want Is My Parent’s Happiness
5. Overall Lifestyle
Along with the services and amenities, try to get a feel for the community as a whole. Just like your parent’s current neighborhood, each community takes on a distinct personality based on the residents, the location, the community structure and so on.
Brad Breeding of MyLifeSite recommends visiting each community to get an inside look. Take time to speak with residents when you do. Is this a place where your parent will feel at home?
Finding the Perfect Place
Above all, the most important consideration is where your mother or father will be happiest. It may take some time to fully consider each community option, but by evaluating the five areas above you’ll be able to form a more complete assessment.
If you would like to learn more about the Lifecare community structure, please enjoy our free guide, What is Lifecare? You can also find more helpful tips and resources on our blog.