Senior Resources » What Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

What Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Older woman retiree with a white striped shirt, sitting in a wheelchair, smiling at a nurse who is helpng her
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Retirement is an exciting time. After working tirelessly for many years, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Of course, with retirement come questions. Will you age in place? Or will you move into a retirement community? Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are a popular choice among seniors who want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while still having access to essential healthcare services. If you’re an older adult who’s interested in CCRCs, this article is for you! Here’s everything you need to know.


What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

senior woman sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a blue sweater, and smiling with a healthcare worker in a continuing care retirement community
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a wide range of activities, social events, and care options. These self-contained communities boast everything a retiree needs to live their best life! Of course, they also provide seniors with a continuum of care options, from independent and assisted living to memory care. What differentiates CCRCs from other retirement communities is that they provide seniors with a guarantee of lifelong care and housing. Seniors who move into CCRCs can enjoy independent living while they are healthy and active. However, as health needs change, they can move to assisted living or nursing care facilities on the same campus without having to worry about moving. Additionally, CCRCs provide a range of amenities, such as housekeeping, transportation, meal plans, and recreational activities.

How Do CCRCs Work and What Are the Contract Types?

couple signing papers at a table with an advisor

CCRCs offer contracts that determine the level of services and financial arrangements between the resident and the community. There are three types of contracts: life care, modified life care, and fee-for-service.

  • Life Care: A resident pays an upfront entrance fee and an ongoing monthly service fee in exchange for unlimited access to all levels of care provided by the community.
  • Modified Life Care: A resident pays a lower entrance fee and a reduced monthly service fee but will have to cover additional costs for certain types of healthcare services.
  • Fee-for-Service: A resident pays an entrance fee for their independent living unit, and then pays for any additional services needed as they arise.

What Are the Benefits of Living in a CCRC?

There are numerous benefits of moving into a CCRC, and one of them is access to lifelong care. Residents also enjoy a built-in support system and community. Some additional benefits of living in a CCRC include:

  • Access to healthcare services within the community
  • A worry-free lifestyle with housekeeping, maintenance, and transportation services
  • A sense of community with shared amenities and activities
  • Protection of financial assets through fixed monthly fees.

How to Choose a Continuing Care Retirement Community

nurse and patient

Choosing a CCRC can be a daunting process. However, keeping a few key factors in mind can help you make an informed decision. Considerations may include:

  • Location: Choosing a community near friends or family can provide peace of mind. Additionally, the weather or climate may also be a factor.
  • Quality of Care: Research the quality of care provided by the community, and talk to current residents. Make sure that you also check online reviews, as well! Websites like Yelp and even the Better Business Bureau may provide additional insight.
  • Types of Amenities: Review the amenities available to residents and choose the ones you consider important. Make sure that you have access to clubs and hobbies that you enjoy!
  • Contract Type: Understand the cost structure and contract type of the CCRC. Consult a financial or retirement planner to breakdown the fee structure for you. And don’t ever be afraid to ask questions!

Find a Continuing Care Retirement Community

Living happily ever after isn’t just for fairy tale characters. Retirees can also live happily ever after in the CCRC of their dreams! Whether you’re a Baby Boomer thinking of the future or a retiree looking to shake things up a bit, you can find the right community. Always do your research and keep an open mind—and heart! We hope this guide helped you understand what a Continuing Care Retirement Community is and the many benefits they offer.


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Originally published May 23, 2024


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