A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a facility or organization that provides housing along with multiple levels of health care and residential services. Their function is to assist senior residents as residents needs change with time. CCRC communities endeavor to offer seniors a sense of independence and self-sufficiency.
CCRCs may be for-profit or non-profit. The first CCRCs were mostly non-profit organizations. However, as the "baby boomer" generation has aged, there has been a rise in the number of for-profit communities being established.
While both health care and residential related services are provided in CCRCs, the specific services offered vary considerably. Basic services commonly found include meals, local transportation, security, and on-site medical services. Some communities offer a wider range of services than others, such as laundry service, housekeeping or assisting residents with the processing of insurance and Medicare forms. Basic services are also often included in the cost of the housing unit. However, others are commonly paid for separately.
CCRCs can have significant differences in their basic environment and layout. They come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from deluxe high-rises with balconies, to townhouses and, or one or two-bedroom cottages. Communities located in different parts of the country differ in their approach to routine activities. For example, a CCRC in a large city may serve daily meals in a somewhat formal setting similar to a restaurant. Conversely, a community in a rural area may serve family-style meals that are passed around the table, providing a more home-like setting, or buffet style meals. Small differences like these can make a huge difference in the general atmosphere of the community and really depend on the needs and requirements of the senior and their family.
With respect to long-term care, CCRCs are distinctive in that they offer transitional levels of care within a single community. CCRCs are a good option for those who might need the additional assistance offered in a nursing home as time goes by.
Most Continuing Care Retirement Communities offer 3 levels of care:
- Independent Living Unit (ILU): The primary purpose of an ILU is to provide housing for elderly adults who are able to perform basic tasks of everyday life, but who occasionally need the assistance of others. ILU’s in CCRC’s makes it possible for the individual to feel free and independent, as well as safe and secure. Residential services such as meals, laundry service and housekeeping are often available. Medicare home health services are usually available for individuals, too. In addition, some seniors who require physical therapy or skilled nursing are also available.
- Assisted Living: Assisted living is an intermediate stage between independent living and skilled nursing care. Assisted living in a CCRC provides assistance for residents who have chronic care needs, but do not require around-the-clock skilled nursing care. Residents who need help with taking medications, bathing, dressing, and other daily requirements are best served by assisted living services.
- Skilled Nursing Care: Both short-term and long-term professional care, such as physical rehabilitation and 24-hour nursing services, are provided at this level. Some CCRCs provide specialized skilled nursing units for people with specific medical needs, such as seniors suffering from Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other mental and psychical issues.
Movement to higher care levels may be permanent or temporary. Some CCRCs have formal written standards that are used to assess residents' needs for specific levels of care. Others use a less formal approach to the decision-making process. They work very closely with families and seniors alike to make sure that everyone is amenable to this solution. Of course, this decision is not an easy one to make. One thing that’s very important is that you advocate for your loved ones health.