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Monday April 22, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Choosing a Retirement Community

Can you help me find retirement communities that offer a range of housing options and care services, from independent living to nursing home care? I plan to downsize from my current home, and I want my next move to be my last.

If you want your next move to be your last, an all-inclusive retirement community – also known as a continuing-care retirement community (CCRC) – is a great option to consider. Here is what you should know and some tips to consider.

What are CCRCs? CCRCs are distinct from other types of senior accommodations because they provide a comprehensive range of housing, services and care options available in one convenient location. While the appearance and services of CCRCs can vary greatly, most provide apartments or sometimes single-family homes for active independent seniors.

CCRC Features: CCRCs offer onsite assisted living for seniors who require help with daily living tasks like bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom as well as nursing home care for residents when their health declines. CCRCs also provide a variety of resort-style amenities and services that include community dining halls, exercise facilities, housekeeping and transportation as well as social and recreational activities.

CCRC Costs: The national average entrance fee for CCRCs is approximately $320,000, but these fees can range from less than $100,000 to more than $1 million. In addition to the entrance fee, there are ongoing monthly fees that generally range from $2,000 to $5,000 for singles ($3,000 to $6,000 for couples) depending on the facility, services and the contract options chosen.

With more than 2,000 CCRCs in operation throughout the U.S, finding a facility that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget will require some legwork. Here are some steps that can help you proceed:

Make a list: To find CCRCs, various websites maintain databases that will match you to a community based on your preferences. Once you have located a few, contact each community to inquire about vacancies, pricing and the availability of services wanted.

Take a tour: Many CCRCs encourage potential residents to stay overnight and have a few meals in their dining hall. During your visit, notice the upkeep of the facility and talk to the current residents to see how they like living there. Also, take a tour of the assisted living and nursing facilities and learn how decisions are made to move residents from one level of care to another.

Do some research: While on your tour, find out who owns the CCRC and review a copy of their most recently audited financial statement. Another important statistic is their occupancy rate. Unless it is a newer community, occupancy below 80% can be a concern that the facility is having financial or management problems.

To investigate the CCRC’s long-term care services, contact your state long-term care ombudsman to inquire if the assisted living or skilled nursing care has a history of complaints or problems. You can also research quality of care on Medicare’s nursing home search tool at Medicare.gov/care-compare.

Understand the contract and fees: CCRCs generally offer three types of contracts. Life-care contracts, or Type A, have the highest entry fee but cover all levels of long-term care as needed. Modified contracts, or Type B, have lower entry fees but limit long-term care services. Fee-for-service contracts, or Type C, offer the lowest entrance fees but require you to pay extra for long-term care if you need it.

Before signing a contract, you should understand how annual price increases will occur. Other important topics to review are how much of your entry fee is refundable if you move or die and what happens if you outlive your financial resources. To help you sort through these issues, consult with your financial advisor or lawyer before signing any documents.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 19, 2024
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