A Great Option for Many Retirees

Continuing-care-retirement offers residents an independent lifestyle with the security and comfort of knowing that multiple levels of health care are available to meet their changing needs without having to move off campus. Continuing-care-retirement also offers a socially active lifestyle with optional wellness and nutritional support services.

Levels of Senior health care or supportive care offered varies but typically include:

  • Up to four levels of assisted living care.
  • Short term rehabilitative care in a skilled nursing setting
  • Long term skilled care in the skilled nursing setting.
  • Specialty memory care in the assisted living or the skilled care settings.
  • Some continuing care communities also offer home health care services either with an in-house agency or thru a third party arrangement.

Continuing care communities typically provide a variety of social activities, travel opportunities, health and wellness programs, spiritual programs and good nutrition. The important reason for these amenities is not just to keep residents busy but to keep them involved, active and healthy. The ultimate goal is to maintain health and independence for as long as possible.

Independent living is usually the point of entry into the system and is for residents who are capable of independent living without personal support. The independent living units are generally nice one and two bedroom apartments with a fully appointed kitchen and a spacious living room. Most will have an outside living area such a patio or balcony.

Typical amenities for independent living could include:

  • Fine dining options. The residency agreement typically specifies how many meals per month are included in the monthly service fee (rent). Meals may be offered restaurant style in the main dining room, service in the private dining room or in the Bistro or lounge.
  • Weekly housekeeping and laundry service
  • Emergency alert system in every apartment
  • Hobby center/Life-long learning center
  • Social activities and local transportation
  • First aide clinic with scheduled health screening.
  • Day spa and hair salon
  • Supervised fitness center some staffed with exercise physiologists, strength training equipment, treadmills and stationary bicycles, exercise classes and in some cases a swimming Pool and spa
  • Scheduled educational seminars relating to health and wellness, nutrition, and stress management.
  • A branch bank and a physician’s office may be offered in a community large enough to support them.

Continuing care communities include those that are not-for-profit and those that are for-profit. Some charge a monthly market rent with an annual lease and others offer life care for a large entry fee and a monthly service fee.

Both the community and the resident make a more serious commitment in the case of the entry fee model. The resident’s commitment is the payment of an entry fee that could be in the range of $80,000 to $400,000.

The community commits to make the apartment available to the residents as long as they are capable of living independently and priority admission to the health services usually at a discount. The community further promises various levels of healthcare at no additional charge for an amount of time specified in the residency agreement. These “life-care” communities are regulated in most states because of the entry fee and the promise of future health services.

Selecting a continuing-care-retirement community is serious business that requires thoughtful due-diligence on the part of the potential resident including a review of the lease/residency agreement by your personal attorney. The Florida Department of Financial Services offers a "Guide for Consumers, Long Term Care 2009.” This publication provides some excellent guidelines on selecting a continuing-care-retirement community. It is a free download and well worth the effort. Another good source of information on not for profit communities is Leading Age.

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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

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