For many senior citizens who have the means, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is the right choice. This type of community, as opposed to the strictly Assisted Care Community, offers both a gracious lifestyle and the availability of on-premises medical and nursing care. There are downsides to this choice, however, one of them being the high cost. The majority of these facilities require a substantial down payment for admission in addition to the monthly fees for meals, maid service, a base level of assisted care, and other al la cart amenities. Most offer a range of residence options ranging from studio apartments to two or three-bedroom units. Unlike condominiums and co-ops, residents do not “own” their living accommodations, they only acquire the lifetime use of them.
Having lived in this type of community as a guest resident and researcher for a period of several months, I learned a number of things about day-to-day living in this environment. One of these was that most of the residents had entered the facility after a series of residence downsizing, moving from comfortable suburban homes or spacious city apartments, through assisted care and finally to the CCRC option. The main objectives of these individuals seemed to be the downsizing of living space, the ridding of the responsibility of property maintenance, and the ready access to medical and nursing care. Many came on the recommendations of friends who had entered before them, and many formed friendship groups with others from similar backgrounds once there.
Because of the complexity of CCRC contracts, it is highly recommended that potential residents seek legal advice before committing. It is also wise to actually spend several nights as a guest of the community to attain a feel for its environment; most CCRC’s offer this option.