You’ve examined the various senior living options, from remaining in your current home to moving to a age-restricted retirement community, and you’ve decided that the continuum of care and amenities offered by a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community) is the right decision for you. Now, it’s time to choose the CCRC that meets your criteria and budget. But how do you decide among the numerous CCRCs out there? It can be a challenge comparing CCRCs because it often isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Here are just a few of the reasons that comparing various CCRCs is so tough:

Comparing CCRCs: Differences in contract structures

Doing a side-by-side of contracts is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to trying to compare various CCRCs. The issue is that you cannot always compare communities purely on cost because different CCRCs may offer different types of contracts. For example, one may be a lifecare contract (Type A) and one may offer a fee-for-service contract (Type C). And one may offer a higher refundable entry fee than another. All of this will impact the price you pay, even for comparable communities.

But there is good news when it comes to trying to compare and contrast CCRC contracts: myLifeSite offers a CCRC financial projection tool (one of the many resources that comes with our premium subscription service) that was custom-built to help compare contract options and pricing.

>> Related: Number-Crunching: A Look at Differing CCRC Pricing Sheets

Comparing CCRCs: Services and amenities

CCRCs are known for offering a wide variety of services and amenities. Comparing them means understanding exactly what is offered, when, where, and how often, as well as what is included in your monthly fee versus what will cost you extra. A few examples…

  • Most CCRCs will include one meal per day as part of your monthly fee for those who are living independently. Other communities may include more than one meal, or offer various meal plans from which to choose. Increasingly residents want choices when it comes to meal plans but this may add to the complexity of the comparison process.
  • Along that same vein, CCRCs will often provide light housekeeping services to independent living residents—perhaps a once-over your unit each week and linen service. Typically residents can get more frequent or more in-depth housekeeping or laundry assistance, but there will be an additional cost.

To explore how various CCRCs differ from one another, you can start by using the side-by-side comparisons tool included as part of myLifeSite’s search and compare tool

Comparing CCRCs: care services and specialized care

While, by definition, all CCRCs provide their residents a continuum of care that ranges from independent living to assisted living to full-time skilled nursing care, the specifics may vary from one CCRC to another.

For example, when it comes to memory care, some CCRCs may offer designated memory care, or specialized care units (SCUs), which are separate units that are specifically licensed for memory care services; other CCRCs may not have an SCU for memory care.

The same is also true of assisted living and nursing care. Some CCRCs may only offer assisted living in people’s independent living homes, without having separately licensed assisted living apartments. Some people prefer this anyway, but it’s still important to know which model is used by the CCRC you are considering.

Some CCRCs may not even offer on-site skilled nursing care; it may instead be offered at an affiliated offsite location. In this case, one may question why that particular community would even be considered a CCRC, but some states have more narrow definitions than others of what constitutes a CCRC.

>> Related: Understanding Memory Loss & Memory Care Communities

While there are many factors that come into play when comparing CCRCs, the topics above—contract types, services and amenities, and care services offered—and the wide variations in how each CCRC approaches these matters, make it especially challenging to do a side-by-side analysis of different communities.

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