Almost all 55+ retirement communities— including Active Adult Living, Independent Living, Senior Apartments, and Senior Co-Ops— serve those who are either able to live completely independently or who require only limited assisted living services. Yet, if a more advanced level of care is required the resident may eventually need to move to an off-site health-care facility.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community— often referred to as a “CCRC” or “Life Plan Community” — is the only type of retirement community that provides services spanning the continuum of care. CCRCs cater to active retirees who are able to live independently today but who seek the peace of mind that comes with living in a community equipped to provide necessary healthcare services in the future; thus reducing potential stress and hardship for the resident and other family members.

In its truest form a Continuing Care Retirement Community contractually guarantees access to a full continuum of care; usually for a period of time greater than one year and sometimes for life. The contract between the community and the resident is typically referred to as a “Residency and Care Contract.” Alternatively, some CCRCs provide access to healthcare services but do not contractually guarantee such services for any period of time.

All CCRCs are not alike and many require an entry fee in exchange for access to healthcare services. Choosing the right community is an important decision. If you are considering a Full Service Retirement Community be sure to inquire about the type of residency contract(s) available, financial stability of the community, quality of care, and experience of the management team.

NIC Housing Classifications offers definitions of the different senior housing options as determined by the National Investment Center (NIC) and the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA).