Increasing in popularity, continuing care communities for senior citizens provide residents with various housing accommodations ranging from independent living to skilled nursing facilities, depending on their overall health and medical needs.
What Is a Senior Citizen Continuing Care Community?
A senior citizen continuing care community, generally referred to as Lifecare or a CCRC, is a residential community that allows seniors to stay in the same community for the rest of their lives regardless of the type of housing they need. This means that a fairly self-sufficient senior may enter the community in the assisted living or independent living areas, and transition into higher levels of care as the years go on. This type of community takes away the social and organizational stress of moving from one community to another every three to five years.
Housing in Continuing Care Communities for Senior Citizens
While many communities include all of the following types of housing accommodations, there are also CCRCs that only provide several of the different types of accommodations.
Independent Living Housing
Independent living housing is for senior citizens that want to be part of a community while maintaining their independence. Housing accommodations may include single family homes, apartments or condominiums that are easy to maintain. Many amenities are generally included such as:
- Community dining rooms
- An exercise room
- A pool
- Recreational activities
- Lawn and landscape maintenance
Depending on the individual CCRC, other amenities may include housekeeping, laundry service and transportation service to local stores and malls.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities give residents a great amount of independence while providing assistance in areas where it is needed. The housing accommodations, like those of independent living housing, are often condominiums, apartments or single family homes and seniors have the same amenities as those living in the independent living housing. Residents of assisted living facilities are given the help they need with their responsibilities and chores of daily or weekly living including:
- Assistance with medication
- Assistance with daily living skills such as bathing, personal hygiene, dressing and eating
Skilled Nursing Care Facilities
A resident of a continuing care community moves into the skilled nursing care facility of the CCRC if they:
- Are not able to care for themselves
- Need continuous medical care
- Need supervision
- Need specialized medical care for an advanced health issue
If a resident of a continuing care community suffers from Alzheimer's Disease or any other form of dementia, they move into the Memory Care facility, where they receive the necessary care they need by a staff that is specially trained in caring for individualss with dementia. Although most Memory Care facilities are secured to prevent residents from wandering, the areas usually include gardens and pathways for the residents to enjoy.
When a resident that has an incurable disease enters the last phase of their life, many continuing care communities provide hospice care. Hospice care is compassionate and humane care that makes the individual as comfortable as possible while allowing them to live as fully as possible. In addition to providing pain and symptom control, hospice services also include spiritual care if the resident wishes.
Continuing Care Entrance Requirements
Generally, once the decision is made to live in a continuing care community and the community accepts the senior, a contract is signed. Most CCRCs have entrance requirements that must be met before acceptance. Although the requirements vary from one organization to another, the following requirements are usually standard:
- Potential residents must be ambulatory when they move in.
- Potential residents must meet certain health requirements.
- Potential residents must show financial resources to cover future fees.
- Potential residents must fall within the maximum and minimum age requirements.
- Accepted seniors must agree to be placed on a waiting list if necessary.
Once accepted, the senior pays a one-time entry or accommodation fee, plus a monthly fee to live in the community. In exchange, the CCRC promises to provide housing accommodations and care for the seniors for the remainder of his or her life regardless of health or medical conditions.
When individuals, or couples, make the choice to move into continuing care communities for senior citizens, they are choosing a lifestyle that allows them to age in one place. By making this choice, the seniors do not have to move away from loved ones and friends if they become disabled or ill.