Long-Term Care

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), also known as “Life Plan Communities,” are one type of long-term care. They offer three levels of care on the same campus: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing and memory care. Your parent might be in independent living the whole time or, if their needs change, move to assisted living or skilled nursing.


Residents pay an entrance fee ($100,000-$1 million, sometimes refundable) as well as a monthly service fee ($3,000-$6,000) for housekeeping, meals, activities and maintenance. In some communities you rent your unit, in others you must buy it. If you do purchase your place, what is the refund policy when your adult family member is no longer there?

Types of care.

Independent living can be an apartment, house or condo with one meal a day in the community dining room. In assisted living, you get more help and eat meals with others. The nursing home component may also offer memory care or it may be separate.

Back to school.

There’s a special type of CCRC on or near college campuses. At university-based retirement communities, you take classes at the CCRC or on a college campus and, if you choose, attend sports and cultural events at the college. Sometimes, residents teach courses at the CCRC.

Issues to Consider

Think about what the care is worth.

For CCRC’s: While it’s an expensive option, your Dad doesn’t have to worry about being uprooted from a familiar place if he ends up moving to assisted living or skilled nursing. Rather than living alone, you’re part of a community.

Doing your due diligence.

Before signing on, find out if the CCRC is on strong financial footing. Request audited financial reports and its licensing, inspection and complaint reports. See if your family member can try it out by spending a week there. And, visit a few times and talk to residents to get a sense of the place.

Make sure you understand how the CCRC works: get a breakdown of all costs and find out the history of price increases. What happens when the person dies? What are the finances and logistics if one spouse requires a higher level of care than the other? What if you want private help and where do you get it? How much private help is allowed in independent living?

Some institutions don’t offer all three levels of care, but rather are stand alone independent living and skilled nursing. People may prefer not being on a campus with other options and just have what they need—and no more. Ask how it’s determined if they need a new level of care (say, assisted living or skilled nursing).