Questions to Ask When Selecting a Continuing Care Retirement Community

As you get older, your needs change and can become more complex.  You may be considering downsizing or moving to be closer to your adult children or grandchildren. Deciding whether to hold on to your current home or make a move can be challenging – especially if you need more assistance with day-to-day activities and medical care.

This is where a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) comes in. These communities are specifically designed for older adults and can meet your changing needs in a comprehensive manner.

CCRCs have grown in popularity over the years (there are nearly 2000 CCRCs in the US). There are many types of CCRCs and it is important that you make an informed decision. You might be wondering what to ask when selecting a retirement community for yourself or a loved one.

Here are a few questions and answers to help guide your process.

What Housing Options are Available in a CCRC?

Many CCRCs (like Cornwall Manor) offer a variety of housing options – from houses with lofts, sunrooms and garages to one, two, or three-bedroom apartments. When your health changes and you need additional services, CCRCs  typically also have personal care or assisted living apartments as well as a skilled nursing facility for short or long-term medical needs on-site.

Can I Afford It?

Because of the variety of CCRCs and fee plans, it is critical to research fees and what is (and is not) included. Most people use the proceeds from the sale of their home to pay the entrance fees required by most retirement communities.

This initial fee covers your housing and access to health care. Different CCRCs offer different fee plans (such as “fee for service” or “life care”) – so you should discuss these options and see what is best for you and your future needs. Medicare may pay for some of the cost of a short-term skilled nursing home stay, and many people have obtained long term care insurance for future home health, personal care and skilled nursing costs.

In addition to an entrance fee, most CCRCs also have a monthly fee which includes utilities, interior and exterior maintenance, general property taxes, emergency response, security, housekeeping, transportation and fitness center fees, together with costs for other services and amenities. Ask for the schedule of fees and what they include.


What’s the Occupancy Rate?

A facility’s occupancy rate is a vital measure of its viability. The occupancy rate is generally an indication of their services. It also serves as a sort of non-verbal review of the establishment. Therefore, it’s advisable to look for a community with at least an 85% occupancy rate. Anything lower than that can be cause for alarm — unless the facility is new and just beginning to fill up.


What’s the Financial Strength of the CCRC?

Knowing the financial situation of a CCRC is a crucial element of the selection process.

CCRCs are required to provide you with a financial disclosure statement, and they should also provide a copy of their audited financial statement. Don’t be afraid to ask about financing debt or other areas of the CCRC’s financial health.

Ask what is required in the financial application process. If it is a not-for-profit CCRC (like Cornwall Manor), they may have an Endowment Fund to assist residents who have limited or depleted resources.


What Are the Entrance Fees and Refund Terms?

Most Continuing Care Retirement Communities have a refund clause in their contract. This clause dictates that the funds will go back to the resident if they move, or to their estate in the event of their death. The refund options vary by community – from as little as 10% to 90%.

Ask each facility how much is refundable and under what conditions the refund policy can be invoked. Most communities do not offer the refund for a specified period of time or until the unit is re-marketed. It can be prudent to have a lawyer look at the contract so that you fully understand what you are signing.


What if Spouses Need Different Levels of Care?

In many situations, spouses want to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community, but need different levels of care. When you visit each community, ask how this situation can be handled and how much it would affect the cost.  Since the benefit of a CCRC is that they have various levels of health care available at one location, there are typically options for spouses.

If a spouse is unable to be the caregiver for their spouse, some options include in-home nursing or companion care, or one spouse living in a house or apartment and the other spouse living in the personal care or skilled nursing facility at the CCRC. The staff at the CCRC can explain the pros and cons of each option. From there, you can make the most informed decision.


Get  Your Questions Answered

It is important that you research and understand your options before you move to a CCRC. The staff at  Cornwall Manor is available to answer your questions and provide information. If you have a question or want to schedule a visit, call Cornwall Manor at 717-208-8376 today.