What to Know About Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Originally featured April 13, 2023 on US News
By Ruben Castaneda, Medically reviewed by Michael Tehrani, MD

America has an aging population, and as such, more and more people are considering options for where and how they’ll live after retirement. Overall, 70% of people currently age 65 or older will need some kind of long-term care according to the federal government.

Sorting through the myriad choices for long-term care and determining which is the best one for your particular situation can be challenging.

What Is CCRC?

A continuing care retirement community, which can also be known as a life plan community, is one option you may consider. CCRCs offer most anything older adults may need as they move through the stages of aging, says Andrew J. Carle, an adjunct professor and lead instructor for the program in Senior Living Administration at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “The gist of it is they (CCRCs or LPCs) include the full continuum of care options,” meaning everything from independent or assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing care.

There are about 1,900 CCRCs nationwide, according to the AARP.

Whether a facility goes by CCRC or LPC, these communities typically all include at least these options:

  • Independent living. Independent living can be a good option for seniors who like living independently but like having access to assistance to medical care, dining and housekeeping services when they need it. Many independent living communities provide one meal per day in a cafeteria setting.
  • Skilled nursing care. This type of community is geared toward individuals who need skilled, licensed nursing care and medical attention. This could include people who have had a serious stroke, who have serious heart, kidney or respiratory conditions and people who aren’t ambulatory.

Most also include other care options, including:

  • Assisted living. Basically, assisted living is for seniors who can live independently but need help with some daily tasks, such as cooking, housekeeping and keeping track of medications. Assisted living communities typically have a pharmacy on site.
  • Memory care. Memory care units are for people with dementia who exhibit certain kinds of behavior that affect their day-to-day living. Such units have staffers who are trained to provide specialized care to people with dementia.
  • Short-term rehabilitation. This type of facility provides around-the-clock therapeutic services and medical care for patients who are recovering from a surgery, a serious illness or an accident. The goal is to help the patient achieve recovery to the point they are independent enough to no longer need such care. Patients typically stay in a short-term rehabilitation setting for a few weeks, but stays can last for months.


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