There are a variety of different reasons that people choose to move to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community). For many people, one of the biggest draws of a CCRC is the on-site access to a full continuum of care services, should a resident need them. But another highly appealing perk of moving to a CCRC is the wide array of services and amenities available to residents.
CCRC services to simplify life
An attractive aspect of living in a CCRC is the various services provided to residents, many of which are included with a resident’s monthly service fee. Most of these are designed to simplify residents’ lives, remove the burden of home maintenance and chores, and keep residents safe, healthy, happy, and comfortable. It’s almost like getting to live full-time in a hotel, but with all of the comforts of home.
CCRC services will vary slightly from community to community, but some common ones include:
- Care services: The hallmark of a CCRC is the priority access they give residents to a continuum of on-site care including assisted living and skilled nursing care, if needed, and in some cases memory care. Most communities also provide residents with 24/7 emergency response services.
- A meal plan: Most CCRC contracts will include provision of at least one meal per day for independent living residents at one of the community’s dining venues. If you would like additional meals, other meal plans are available.
- Housekeeping: CCRCs will typically provide independent living residents with weekly housekeeping services, and in some cases, linen services. Additional housekeeping or laundry services can often be added for an additional fee.
- Local transportation: In some cases, if desired, CCRC residents may be able to eliminate the expense that comes with car ownership. Most CCRCs provide regularly scheduled shuttle services to nearby shopping areas. They typically will also provide individual transportation as needed, such as to medical appointments.
- Maintenance: Get rid of the lawnmower and snowblower. A CCRC will take care of all exterior maintenance for residences as well as grounds and common areas.
- Utilities: The specific utilities covered as part of a resident’s monthly service fee can vary slightly but will almost always include water, electricity, basic cable, and trash removal. Some communities may also include telephone service and internet.
- Wellness programs: Mental and physical wellness are a key component of living in a CCRC. To support this focus, communities will offer residents with various programs and initiatives to support preventative health (more on this later).
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The appeal of CCRC amenities
A CCRC’s amenities are what take its senior living lifestyle from hotel to resort. In fact, CCRCs have been described as being akin to “docked cruise ships.” If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that there is always something to do, or if you prefer, you can just relax and unwind. A CCRC creates a similar “resort-like” lifestyle for residents, offering a variety of daily events and activities, as well as appealing on-campus amenities.
For example, some of the amenities you will commonly find at a CCRC might include:
- A variety of formal and casual dining venues: In addition to a main dining room, many CCRCs have introduced more casual venues to their dining options. Various venues may have the ambiance of a cafe, bistro, deli, or pub.
- Fitness center with exercise classes: CCRCs emphasize resident wellness, which includes staying physically active. Almost all CCRCs will have fitness equipment (such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, and weights) and offer a variety of instructor-led exercise classes for groups as well as one-on-one personal training.
- Swimming pool: Again, with their focus on healthy lifestyles, nearly all CCRCs will have a swimming pool, in many cases a heated indoor pool. Some may offer residents access to a hot tub, steam room, and/or sauna as well.
- Entertainment outings, cultural/educational programs, and social events: Here again, the specifics will vary from community to community, but most CCRCs will provide residents with an array of social, cultural, educational, and entertainment options — some on-site and some off-campus.
- Library and business center: Looking for a good book? Many communities have an on-premises library with popular titles. They will also often have a business center with a computer, fax machine, and printer for use by residents.
- Creative studios and classes: Many CCRCs provide residents with opportunities to tap their creativity with group art classes — painting, pottery, photography, and more. Some even have on-site craft rooms, art studios, or woodworking shops.
- Shared sitting areas: Sit and stay a while. CCRCs will have a variety of attractive indoor and outdoor sitting areas where residents can meet up, socialize, and relax.
- Natural outdoor areas: Fresh air and sunshine are good for the body and soul. Depending on the CCRC’s location, most will have shared outdoor spaces that accommodate exercise and simply enjoying nature. This might include things like walking paths, bike trails, and flower gardens.
Taking CCRC services and amenities to the next level
Some CCRCs have found new and innovative offerings to appeal to today’s retirees. Some of these services and amenities provide the community with a high-end resort lifestyle; others tap into the latest advances in health and wellness. For example:
- Day spa services: In addition to salon/barber services, which can often be found at CCRCs, some communities have opened on-site day spas. These luxurious facilities offer services like skin treatments, nailcare, massage, and more.
- Coffee shops and juice bars: The food services options at some CCRCs continue to expand with the latest dining and beverage trends including on-site coffee shops and juice or smoothie bars.
- Community gardens: Whether individual garden plots for residents to grow the plants of their choice, or a shared vegetable garden for the benefit of the CCRC and the larger community, some CCRCs are giving residents the opportunity to get their hands dirty and showcase their green thumbs.
- Dental care: CCRCs are known for their on-site healthcare facilities, sometimes even incorporating preventive healthcare services. Some communities are expanding these offerings to include on-site dentists for routine and restorative dental care.
- Dog parks: With many CCRCs permitting pets, dog parks an increasingly popular amenity.
- Theaters: Get the thrill of seeing a movie on the big screen or an on-stage performance close to home. Some CCRCs are adding full-size theaters to their campuses for a entertainment and cultural programming.
- Innovative therapies: In addition to traditional physical therapy services, some communities have expanded their therapeutic offerings to include exciting new treatments. From equine and pet therapy to Snoezelen therapy rooms and meditation to music, art, and scent therapy, some CCRCs are embracing new ways of treating various conditions.
Finding the CCRC that is the right fit for you
As you explore your CCRC options, it’s important to consider not only location, affordability, and quality, but also the overall lifestyle offered by the community. Certain CCRCs are more vibrant and high-energy; others are more laid back and relaxed. Some have a formal or luxurious atmosphere while others are cozier and more casual. One isn’t better than the other; it all depends on what lifestyle and energy level appeals to your personal nature.
Part of this equation is the assortment of services and amenities offered by the CCRC. What is vitally important to you, and what is just a nice-to-have when it comes to services and amenities? You should get a full understanding of these things when you tour a CCRC and talk with the sales counselor. It is also a good idea to talk with current residents to learn what they like and find most appealing about their community.
Finally, once you have narrowed down your CCRC choice and added your name to the wait list, it is wise to spend as much time as allowable on campus to get a true feel for the atmosphere of the community. This will help ensure it is the very best fit for you prior to making your CCRC move.
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