A few weeks ago I wrote about meeting with a new client who lived in a continuing care retirement community. She selected this type of living community because her husband had passed away, she doesn’t have any children, and she doesn’t want to be a burden to her remaining nieces and nephews if her health deteriorates.

Ask yourself this question… have you thought about where you are going to live once you retire? Are you tired of maintaining your current home? Do you have children in the area that you can rely on for caregiving should your health change?

The reality is that most of us don’t plan for a health crisis or a decline in our ability to take care of our homes.

Why do we wait so long to move? The biggest hurdle we often face is the daunting task of downsizing our home and determining what to do with all of our stuff. The good news is, there are organizations like the National Association of Senior Move Managers that can help you with the process of downsizing. To find an NASMM facilitator near you, visit their website at  nasmm.org

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) have grown in popularity particularly because of their tiered approach to aging. CCRCs offer independent living cottages, condos, or apartments, as well as assisted living and skilled nursing care all on the same campus.

Nationwide there are about 2,000 CCRCs, many with long waiting lists. They are often the most expensive of all care options, but it may be worth it if you find yourself living far away from your family members and you are financially able to afford this type of living option.

Most residents of a CCRC are at least age 62. New residents are looking to take advantage of the offer of guaranteed lifetime housing,  a variety of social activities, and increased care when needed.

Selecting a CCRC takes some research. So, it is important to visit multiple locations and most importantly make sure you will be happy there. CCRCs typically require an initial up-front buy-in in the range of $100,000 to 1,000,000 depending on the location and type of unit you are choosing. In addition, you will be charged a monthly fee for your cottage, apartment, assisted living, or skilled facility.

CCRCs offer a variety of contract options to new residents that include:

Life Care or Extended Contract: The CCRC provides unlimited assisted living or skilled care without raising monthly costs.

Modified Contract: This contract offers a set of services for a set length of time – when time expires services are provided at a higher fee.

Fee for Service: This plan has a lower enrollment fee with assisted living and skilled care provided at market rate.

In order to be best prepared for determining what level of care you need, I recommend that you work with a financial planner, a health advocate/advisor, and an attorney to seek guidance before making a final decision to move.

When selecting a CCRC you should consider the following:

What is the culture of the community?

How is the staffing and the staff attitude?

What is the resident culture like?

Take time to attend open houses or other community events such as educational programs.

Check out the fitness center, walking trails, and communal areas.

Check out the food by eating at a variety of restaurants.

Talk with other residents.

Take a tour of the assisted living and skilled care units. Review the nursing home surveys by going to  Medicare.gov.

If you are getting close to retirement age, you may want to consider starting your search now for a retirement community. Many have long waiting lists with some locations taking 5-7 years to make it to the top of the list. Check out mylifesite.net to do a side-by-side comparison of multiple communities in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

Making a move to a CCRC is a big decision. So, make sure you take the time to do your research and get advice from trusted professionals to include an attorney, financial planner, and health advocate. I would love to use my knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the world of Continuing Care!