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6 Things to Look for in a CCRC

The old saying, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” doesn’t really apply to senior living — particularly when it comes to Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs. That’s because retirement communities vary widely in their residency requirements, services, amenities, levels of care, and costs.  

For anyone considering a senior living community, it’s helpful to first understand some of the significant differences between communities. Below, we answer and define seven of the common questions pertaining to CCRCs. Understanding these answers — and their differences — helps prospective residents select the right Life Plan Community for them. 

1. What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC? A CCRC, sometimes known as a Life Care Community, is a full-service community that offers independent living and continuing care. Older adults typically must be at least 62 years old to move in.  

If residents ever need it, they have access to on-site continuing care, which may include assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. This continuum of care gives its residents a plan for dealing with potential health care issues and eliminates the need for a disruptive move if they ever need a higher level of care.

How CCRCs differ: Typically, the biggest difference between CCRCs are the types of contracts they offer. The three most common contracts are Type A, known as Life Care; Type B, also referred to as a modified plan or modified CCRC; and Type C, also called fee-for-service.  

Only a Type A contract is a Life Care contract, which includes all potential health care costs as part of the contract, which includes housing, services, and amenities.  

2. What is a CCRC entrance fee and what does it include? To ensure CCRC residents enjoy their independent lifestyle and can also have access to future health care services if they need it, they may pay two different types of fees. One of them is an entrance fee, while the other is a monthly fee. 

An entrance fee is a sum of money paid up front to secure a place in the community. Entrance fees at CCRCs secure your residence and provide availability and priority access to care when it’s available at the community. If necessary, they can move through more advanced levels of care without having to relocate to another community. 

How entrance fees at CCRCs differ: Each CCRC usually has one of two types of entrance fees — refundable and nonrefundable. 

Refundable entrance fees are higher in cost but may equate to a lower monthly fee; some percentage of the entrance fee can be returned to the resident or the resident’s family if they leave the community.  

Nonrefundable entrance fees carry a smaller price tag, but they generally don’t return money to the resident or their family in the event of a move or if the senior has lived in the community for a certain amount of time. 

3. What types of services and amenities are included? A CCRC typically offers a host of both services and amenities. 

Amenities are usually common spaces such as libraries, fitness centers, swimming pools, covered or reserved parking, guest room accommodations, basic cable, beauty salons and barbershops, and art studios.  

Services may include meals, transportation, weekly housekeeping, flat linen service, maintenance of the residences and the community grounds, and a monthly calendar of events and programs. 

All communities offer services and amenities to make residents’ lives easier and more fulfilling. And these things are arguably among the biggest benefits of a CCRC.

How amenities and services differ: Some CCRCs include an impressively long list of both services and amenities as part of the monthly fee, while others offer those same services and amenities at an a la carte price. Still other CCRCs may have very limited amenities and services in their community, leaving it to the residents to clean and cook for themselves. 

4. What’s a CCRC monthly fee, and what does it include? A CCRC’s monthly fee is a nonrefundable fee residents pay every month, and it covers the cost of many of the services and costs listed above. It also covers costs the resident would’ve ordinarily paid as a homeowner: taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs and replacements of appliances, interior and exterior maintenance, lawn and landscaping, and so much more.  

The amount a resident pays is determined by the size of their residence, as well as whether they live there alone or with a spouse, a family member or partner. 

How CCRC monthly fees differ: Every community determines its own monthly fee based on the type of services and amenities it offers. For example, a CCRC that has a heated indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and spa will probably charge more than a CCRC without these features.   

5. What dining options are typically available at a CCRC? There’s generally no typical answer when it comes to dining at a CCRC. That’s because communities may offer everything from formal, private, and casual dining to cafes and coffee shops. Some have bistros, while others have ice cream parlors. Some have a bar and grill; another may have rooftop dining. 

How dining options differ: The types of venues offered aren’t the only difference in dining. The number of meals a CCRC covers as part of its monthly fee may vary, too. While CCRCs provide meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the difference is in how many meals are offered in the dining plan as part of the monthly fee. The dining plan at some CCRCs may cover 15 meals monthly; others may cover 30 meals. Some dining plans are a la carte. 

6. What are the living arrangements for Life Plan Community residents? Independent living residents have their own private residence, which may be as small as a studio        apartment or as large as a multi-bedroom, multi-bathroom house. Assisted living residents may also have their own residence, though it’s often an apartment and usually smaller than those in independent living. Skilled nursing and memory care residents may have their own private apartment or share a room with another resident.  

How living arrangements differ: Independent living residences may be apartments, villas, duplexes, cottages, or freestanding homes. They may range from studios to multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. They may include garages, basements, patios, balconies, and porches. 

In addition to enjoying premium amenities and services, residents of Life Care communities can count on access to high-quality on-site care at predictable rates for the rest of their lives, generally with little to no increase in monthly fees over what they paid in their independent living residence. And they’ll pay far less for these services than they would on the open market. They know where they’ll get this care, who will provide it, and how much it will cost. 

How Life Care communities differ from non-Life Care communities: Quite simply, a Life Care community offers unmatched peace of mind for residents and their families. It offers a worry-free lifestyle with the assurance of care and predictable expenses for life. It removes the burden on loved ones of having to make future decisions.

It truly is a gift older adults can give to themselves, their spouse, and their loved ones. 


Now that you’ve learned more about CCRCs and their differences, and discovered the benefits of Life Care, we have a suggestion: Come to The Waterford for a visit. As Juno Beach’s only Life Care Community, The Waterford offers peace of mind and much more. Start by scheduling a tour and discussing the details of becoming a resident. Simply contact us today.  

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