Most of us want to remain in our homes for as long as possible—but sometimes a move to an assisted-living facility or nursing home becomes necessary. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer seniors a way to age in place but also have access to appropriate levels of assistance throughout retirement.

What is a CCRC? Also known as “life plan communities,” CCRCs provide independent living, assisted living, nursing home care and rehab care all on the same campus, so seniors receive the care they need at each stage of retirement without changing communities. CCRCs are appropriate for retirees who enjoy being part of a community…don’t want to become a burden to their adult children…and, in most cases, have ­significant financial means.

How much does it cost to live in a CCRC? CCRC residents typically pay an entry fee in the low-to-mid six figures…plus ongoing monthly fees in the low-to-mid four figures for a couple. Those monthly fees rise with inflation. It is difficult to pin down CCRC costs more precisely—fees vary depending on the quality and location of the CCRC as well as the contract terms. Examples…

A “life-care” CCRC contract is likely to have steep fees initially, but, beyond inflation adjustments, its monthly fees won’t increase much when the resident moves from independent living to assisted living or nursing home care.

A “fee-for-service” contract might be more affordable up front, but residents face much higher monthly fees if they later require additional care.

Best: Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you are looking at CCRC prices and understand whether, why and how much your monthly fees might increase over time. Also look into the CCRC’s entry-fee return policy—most CCRCs promise to refund much or all of this fee when the resident moves out or passes away.

How to select a CCRC. To learn more about CCRCs and find a listing of communities, visit Then take the following steps…

Visit multiple CCRCs. They vary in terms of amenities and culture. Note: Desirable CCRCs sometimes have waiting lists stretching five years or longer.

Look up the ratings of CCRCs you’re considering on’s Nursing Home Comparison tool (on, click “Find Care ­Providers,” then select “Nursing homes including rehab services”). These ratings are based on only the health-care aspect of the community, and they apply to only Medicare-certified providers.

Confirm that the CCRC is in solid financial shape. You wouldn’t want to pay a six-figure entry fee only to have the CCRC go out of business or reduce its services. It’s a good sign if the CCRC has an occupancy rate above 90%.

Request a copy of the CCRC’s audited financial records. These can be difficult to interpret. Ask your financial adviser to recommend a CPA who has experience analyzing CCRC finances. Or request the statements from several area CCRCs…check which accounting firm audited those CCRCs…then contact one of those firms to ask if someone can evaluate a CCRC’s financial records for you. Don’t choose the accounting firm that audited the CCRC you are considering.

Confirm the CCRC is in good standing with state regulators. Contact the regulatory agency for the state, often the department of insurance, and ask if it oversees CCRCs—oversight varies by state.


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