In last week’s blog post, “’…but I love my home’: Is Staying in Your House the Right Move?,” I discussed a few of the common reasons that most people age 65 and older (80 to 90 percent) say they would like to stay in their current home as they grow older. Among this majority, they cite the belief that staying in their home will be the most economical option, provide them with the familiarity of longtime neighbors and nearby businesses, ensure they retain a sense of independence, and help them avoid the hassle of a move. All of these points are valid and may well be true for some people.

However, as I wrote last week, each of these points has a counterpoint when it comes to the realities of so-called “aging in place.” Should a need for home health care arise, the cost of caring for a person in their home can get expensive very quickly. Friends and neighbors can move and favorite stores and restaurants can close. Independence can devolve into feelings of loneliness. And the fact is, even if you don’t want to take on the task of packing and moving, eventually, someone will have to pack up all of that stuff.

While these various pros and cons are important considerations when choosing where you would like to live as you age, as I’ve said many times before, a top factor should be where you think you will be happiest. For some people, moving to a retirement community such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, sometimes called a life plan community) simply isn’t desirable to them, either financially, psychologically, or both. Or, maybe it is, but they’re not quite ready to make the move. This is where continuing care at home (CCaH) can help bridge the gap.

>> Related: 8 Questions to Consider Before You Decide to Age in Place

The care you need, the comforts of home

Sometimes referred to as “a CCRC without walls,” the CCaH model merges the comfortable familiarity of staying in your existing home with the peace of mind, any necessary assistance, and home health care-related services traditionally provided on-site by a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

The defining characteristic of the CCaH concept is that the requirement to buy or rent a residence on the CCRC’s physical campus is typically removed. Instead, caregivers (aides, nurses, physical therapists, etc.) from the CCRC come to the senior’s own home. CCRCs that have implemented continuing care at home programs have effectively extended the reach of their services far beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of their facility.

A continuing care at home contract typically includes a one-time upfront “entrance fee”—from $20,000 to around $70,000—as well as a monthly care service fee—from roughly $250 to $800. In many ways, it’s set up much like one of the standard CCRC contracts, typically a lifecare contract.

Depending on the terms of the CCaH agreement, as a “member” of the CCRC, a variety of services are then available to you in the comfort of your own home, guaranteed, if and when they are needed. However, the total cost of CCaH is usually lower than moving to the CCRC’s campus, especially for people who own their own home outright.

>> Related: 3 Reasons Why Aging in Place May Not Be Cheaper

One key difference from the traditional option of moving to the CCRC’s campus is that, in order to qualify for the program, CCaH members typically must pass an even more stringent health screening process than is required to move into the CCRC. For most CCaH programs, members must currently be living independently, in overall good health, and with no signs of cognitive decline. While the goal of the CCaH concept is to keep seniors healthy and living independently for a long as possible (the same objective applied to residents of the CCRC’s campus), these stringent health requirements are necessary in order to keep the CCaH program financially viable for the CCRC.

>> Related: Fit for Move-In?: The CCRC Health Evaluation Requirement

The best of both worlds

A continuing care at home contract may include services such as:

  • Annual physicals and wellness programs
  • Transportation
  • Care coordination
  • Home inspections
  • Companion or live-in care
  • Home care or home health care
  • Rehabilitative care and physical therapy
  • An emergency response system
  • Adult day care
  • Meals
  • Assisted living and nursing home care

Oftentimes, CCaH contracts will even offer members access to the on-site activities and amenities of the CCRC including things like continuing education classes, entertainment outings, or the gym and swimming pool. Note: A growing number of CCRCs also offer use of these types of amenities to those who have made a deposit to live in the community, but these type of membership arrangements do not include the care services as you would find with a CCaH program.

As the CCaH business model grows in popularity, communities are finding new ways to make this option even more attractive to people who hope to remain in their current home. For example, some CCRCs are giving CCaH members the option to spread out payments for their entrance fee over the first five years of their membership. Other CCRCs are allowing CCaH members to choose packages with various daily or lifetime cost limits for the amount of care they will receive, which for some can make the price of the monthly fee more manageable.

An appealing solution

CCaH can solve many of the potential challenges that can arise for those who hope to remain in their home for as long as possible.

  • The cost of CCaH is more economical than relocating to a residence on the CCRC campus.
  • It offers socialization opportunities (and often access to fitness facilities) to help seniors stay active, engaged, and stave off isolation.
  • CCaH allows members to remain in their home and as independent as possible while still ensuring they receive the care and assistance they may require.
  • While a move to a higher level of care may eventually be necessary, CCaH potentially allows seniors to avoid having to relocate if their care can be effectively managed in their own home.

But for many seniors, the most attractive feature of the CCaH model is its flexibility. The concept continues to evolve to meet the needs of prospective members, offering new payment options and customizable packages to meet a variety of budgets.

If you’re one of the 80 to 90 percent of people over age 65 who hopes to remain in your current home, CCaH can provide you with the perfect balance of cost, peace of mind, and if needed, assistance, while allowing you to stay in the home you love.

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