Health issues, freedom from yard work and home maintenance, downsizing, and simply planning ahead are some of the most common reasons to consider a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). But choosing the right one can be a big decision. Therefore, it’s helpful to go in with lots of questions and curiosities. Below are several considerations to help you “make the right move.”
First, do they offer memory care? A CCRC offers multiple levels of care. However, within the higher levels like personal care and nursing, do they offer specific care and programming dedicated to dementia diagnoses? Elopement or exit seeking can be a concern for those with memory and cognition impairment. Are these areas equipped with technology and monitoring systems that can prevent a resident from walking out? Are staff members trained to care for those with progressive dementia or that present behavioral challenges? Occasionally you may run across a CCRC that is not truly fashioned for these types of needs.
What happens if my loved one runs out of money? Fortunately, most CCRCs, especially not-for-profits, offer benevolent or charitable care allowing your loved one to stay as long as they need. It’s nice to have this peace of mind for the future.
Next, do they offer a “fee-for-service” or “life-care” contract? Fee-for-service or type C models typically have lower monthly fees and lower entry fees, but if personal care or skilled nursing care is required, the resident’s monthly fee will increase to reflect the market-rate for care. A life-care or type A contract normally has a higher monthly fee and entry fee, and you may only enter through independent living. On the other hand, when personal care or skilled nursing care is needed, there is very little or no increase in your monthly fee. There are modified versions of these, and it’s important to do the math to see which option makes more fiscal sense to your situation.
After touring a community or two, ask yourself, “Does (or could) it feel like home?” Sometimes you just know after that initial visit. For others, it may take several times. Many communities offer free events or luncheons to give you the opportunity to experience the spirit of living there. Take those opportunities to meet current residents and staff and ask questions and observe your surroundings. Hopefully, you’ll get the vibe you’re looking for. Also, does the community fit your personality? Do you like a more secluded, suburban or urban setting? Are you looking for a country club atmosphere or more of a purposeful and service driven environment, or a little of both? What excites you about the campus and what makes you feel good about the community? Check out the amenities and enrichment opportunities that are meaningful to you.
Lastly, what is most important to you? Is it quality care? Varying levels of care? Is it knowing that all your needs can be met in one place for and or your spouse, even if you outlive your resources? Does the investment make sense to you? Can you appreciate the value and model for what it truly is? Can you see yourself enjoying it, making new friends, opening a new chapter in your life? Can you see yourself calling it home? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself to take that next step.