Where do you want to live in your retirement years? These days, there are many more alternatives for senior living than ever before. Active adult communities are for those ages 55+, and most simply offer a place to live like a free-standing home, apartment, or townhome. Many independent living communities provide a residence with additional services for maintenance-free living, such as housekeeping and dining. Endless variations of these basic senior living communities exist and include rental communities, co-operatives, village concepts, and so on.
A Life Plan Community, also known as a LIfeCare community or or CCRC (continuing care retirement community), offers similar arrangements for housing and wide-ranging comforts and conveniences, but with an important distinction: a long-term contract for health services and senior care, all in one location. With the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimating that 70% of people over age 65 will need some kind of long-term care during their lifetime, deciding how to control future care costs should be an important consideration for any older adult.
There are distinct advantages to living in a continuing care retirement community, including physical and financial security, prolonged independence, priority access to a continuum of care, the companionship of people of similar age, and access to community facilities. There’s also an emphasis on the individual, where residents are encouraged to live well on their own terms, pursuing their interests in a supportive environment.
Types of Contracts
While CCRCs come in all types and sizes, they all require a long-term contract of some kind. There are three basic types of contracts, and a CCRC may offer one or a combination of the three.
Type A contract — Life Care
The top tier of Life Plan Communities offer a Life Care contract. For this reason, they are sometimes called Life Care communities. In addition to enjoying premium services and amenities, residents of Life Care communities can count on access to high-quality, on-site care at predictable rates for the rest of their lives, generally with little to no increase in monthly service fees over what they paid in their independent living residence. Life Care communities typically ask for an entrance fee or other upfront deposit with varied refundability to the resident or their estate. Residents then pay a monthly fee to cover the use of services and amenities included on the community campus.
Type B contract — Modified CCRC
These communities include housing, services and amenities, with health care provided one of two ways: 1) a limited number of free days included as part of the entrance fee, with additional care billed at per diem market rates, or 2) an ongoing, minimally discounted rate. Health care services may be delivered on-site or off-site, and two monthly fees may be incurred if couples require different levels of care.
Type C contract — Fee-for-Service
Under a fee-for-service contract, housing, services and amenities are provided, but any available long-term care is charged at a la carte market rates. If a resident requires short-term care, that resident must continue paying the monthly fee on their independent living residence, plus the costs of housing and health care received in an assisted living, memory support or skilled nursing residence, which may or may not be on the same campus.
On-Site Health Services
Continuing care retirement communities generally take a residential approach to health care rather than an institutional one. At Friendship Village of South Hills for example, health services are provided in a health center that’s a friendly, homelike setting. For this reason, senior care in a CCRC is sometimes described as “levels of living”:
Assisted living — for seniors who are active but need scheduled assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing or managing medications. This living option also provides a helpful measure of independence for seniors affected by mild memory loss or dementia.
Skilled nursing — for short-term or long-term care needs. Skilled nursing refers to the types of continuous care delivered in a professionally supervised setting, for residents with acute or chronic conditions.
Rehabilitation — short-term care to aid recovery after an illness, injury or surgery. It comprises physical, occupational or speech therapy, or a combination of these therapies.
Memory care — for those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This 24-hour specialized care is delivered in a secure, homelike setting, and designed to promote a high quality of life and slow the advancement of a loved one’s condition.
Nothing Left to Chance
Having these options at the ready saves family members from worry. If their loved one needs therapy or suffers a health event, they won’t have to make decisions on their loved one’s behalf. They can be confident their loved one will be attended to quickly by people they know. If a senior has to move from independent living to assisted living, or requires an additional level of care, the transfer is handled seamlessly within the community. Plus, spouses who develop different care needs can remain on the same campus and won’t have to separate.
There are also advantages to choosing a continuing care retirement community before needing long-term health care. While still healthy and active, independent living residents can enjoy their lifestyle to the maximum. They’re in control of their privacy and surround themselves with activities and opportunities that appeal to them.
What Will the Future Hold?
No one can tell. At Friendship Village of South Hills, we appreciate the importance of planning well and would be happy to discuss the many advantages of Life Care. We’re as invested in making sure our community is the right fit for you as you are in leading a happy, healthy lifestyle. Contact us by filling out the form below.