Eight Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community

If you are evaluating your senior living options, and you have sufficient assets, you will probably at some point consider a Continuing Care Retirement Community. CCRCs are a great option if you want to move into a community — while you are still relatively healthy in body and mind — and stay there.

They usually offer a variety of living arrangements, including freestanding homes, duplexes, and condos; multiple dining options, health and wellness centers, a broad range of social activities, complete home maintenance, and best of all, a continuum of healthcare from assisted living to memory care to long-term and nursing care.

Because CCRCs require an entrance fee, of which you may only recover a portion should you leave, and a monthly fee, it's a major financial decision. A CCRC may seem to be the most expensive senior living option. But if you have the assets, and want almost everything taken care of, it could be the best choice.

An article in Forbes poses eight questions you should ask before pulling the trigger.

  1. Can you afford it? CCRCs are marketed to middle- and upper-income homeowners who typically fund the hefty entrance fee through the sale of their home. Since that fee covers housing and care, estimate what you would get for your home and calculate what you think you might eventually spend on assisted living or skilled nursing care. (Doctor’s visits and hospitalization are out of pocket-costs that may be covered by Medicare for those 65 and older or by health insurance for younger residents.)
  2. Who lives there and what do they do? Ask the age of the average resident and the type of programs the CCRC offers. The typical CCRC resident is 80 or older (though some are much younger) and a community that is post-80 may not appeal to younger residents.
  3. What is the occupancy rate? Look for an occupancy rate of 85% or higher unless it’s a new development, Kiplinger advises. After a recession-driven downturn a few years ago, the average occupancy rate of CCRCs at the end of 2013 was back to 90%.
  4. Is the CCRC financially sound? Ask to look at the CCRC’s financial records, and look for anything unusual, such as a large amount of debt, failure to meet bond obligations or evidence of liabilities exceeding assets.
  5. How much is the entrance fee and is it refundable? About half of CCRCs have a refundable entrance fee that will go to the resident if he moves or to his estate when he dies. Ask how much is refundable and under what conditions.
  6. How much are the monthly fees and what do they cover? You’ll also want to find out how much the fee might rise over time. Ask, too, whether home health care is covered and what health services, if any, are included.
  7. What if my spouse or partner needs a different level of care? One of the advantages of CCRCs for couples is that they can continue living in the same place if, for instance, one needs skilled nursing care and the other is able to live independently.
  8. Who regulates the CCRC? Find out which agency regulates the CCRC and check to be sure the company is in good standing. In most states, CCRCs are regulated by the insurance commissioner, but it can be another agency.

Ratings for nursing homes within CCRCs, which are federally regulated, are available through Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website.


Read this entire article at Forbes.