Before you made any big purchases in your life — your car, your house, possibly even your child’s education — you always asked one important question:
How much does it cost?
It’s completely understandable. You want to know what you’re paying versus what you get.
And if you’ve begun researching your retirement living options and comparing Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs, your first question is almost reflexive: How much will this senior living community cost? And what will I get in return for my money?
Getting a clear picture of the cost of retirement living can be difficult, especially if you’re comparing CCRCs. That’s because every CCRC is structured a bit differently. Some offer lots of services and amenities, some don’t. Some are not-for-profit, some are for-profit. Some have all levels of continuing care available on campus, while others offer only one additional level of continuing care, such as assisted living.
Finally, some call themselves a Life Plan Community, while others refer to themselves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC. But in truth, they’re the exact same thing.
Confused? That’s understandable, too. Fortunately, this blog is here to help. We’ll look at some common questions about CCRCs, including questions about pricing and fees, and what you get for your money when you become a resident.
Q: What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?
A: A CCRC, also known as a Life Plan Community, is a type of retirement community that offers independent living and continuing care all on the same campus. That continuing care typically includes assisted living and memory careand often skilled nursing care and rehab. A CCRC offers older adults a community where they can live independently, knowing they can receive each level of care they need, when they need it, without having to make additional moves.
Q: What fees do you pay to become a CCRC resident?
A: First, you pay what’s called an entrance fee. This is a one-time payment based on the size of the residence you select. So, for example, you’ll pay a lower entrance fee for a 747-square-foot one-bedroom apartment than you will for a 1,322-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a den. As a resident of Viamonte at Walnut Creek, this entrance fee is 75% refundable to you or to your estate. This entitles you to a home at Viamonte for life.
Q: What’s the purpose of an entrance fee?
A: It serves two purposes: It allows a CCRC like Viamonte to offer monthly service fees that are closer to what most retirees pay on a monthly basis to maintain their current homes and lifestyles. The refundable entrance fee also allows residents the opportunity to leave those funds to their estate as desired in the future.
Q: You mentioned a monthly service fee. So I pay two fees?
A: Yes, and here’s why: In your current home, you probably pay multiple bills every month — utilities, groceries, dining out, transportation, cleaning products, lawn care, home maintenance and so on.
At a CCRC, you pay just one monthly service fee, which covers a variety of services, including your flexible monthly dining plan, all utilities, bi-weekly housekeeping, scheduled transportation, plus interior and exterior maintenance.
Q: My spouse and I are healthy and independent. Why should we consider moving to a CCRC?
A: A CCRC can help you remain healthy and independent! A community like Viamonte offers resident programs like fitness classes, resident-sponsored clubs, concerts, lectures, discussion groups, a full calendar of activities and so much more to keep you engaged and active in mind, body and spirit.
Viamonte also offers a remarkable dining program featuring multiple dining venues with seasonal menus prepared by a gourmet chef and culinary team. Menus include healthy food choices and comfort dishes. Like its resident programs, Viamonte’s dining program is designed to nourish you in every way.
Q: Aside from the remarkable lifestyle, what’s the biggest benefit of living at a CCRC?
A: We’ll give you two big benefits:
- A CCRC can preserve your nest egg. As we mentioned, Viamonte offers you a 75% refundable entrance fee that can help preserve your estate. And some portion of your entrance fee may be tax-deductible, because you’re essentially prepaying for future health care. Some of your nonrefundable monthly fee may be tax-deductible as well. Talk with your trusted tax professional about any potential tax deductions.
- A CCRC provides peace of mind. This one simply can’t be overstated. If you or your spouse needs care, you know where you can receive it. So, from the very first day you move in, you know you won’t have to leave the community as your health care needs change. By choosing a CCRC while you’re healthy, you are in control of your future care decisions. Neither you, your spouse nor your family will have to make a decision about care in a crisis situation.
Q: What should I look for when I visit a CCRC?
A: Look beyond what independent living offers you and request a tour of the CCRC’s levels of care. Also, ask about the management and financial stability. Check out the activity calendars. When you can, stop to talk with actual residents. Be sure to ask about a retirement community’s entrance fee options to get a clear picture of which one would best fit your needs and wants.
Q: Is now the right time to move into a community?
A: Many residents at a senior living community say they wish they’d moved five years earlier than they did. That’s because they didn’t realize all the benefits their retirement community offered until they moved in – the remarkable dining, the wellness opportunities, the friendships, the packed calendar of activities, the resident-driven clubs, and on and on.
Do you have other questions? We’re here to answer them.We work with seniors and their families every day, helping them find the right fit for their lifestyle and finances. Call one of our senior living counselors at 925.621.6600, or complete our Contact Us form, and we’ll get in touch with you to help you navigate your senior living search.