For older adults, there is no better security than a continuing care retirement or Life Plan community (as long as it’s financially feasible).
Read on to learn more about continuing care retirement communities and how to determine if a community is financially sound before making your decision.
What Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?
A continuing care retirement community (CCRC), or Life Plan community, offers your parent the assurance of care from the time they’re healthy and independent throughout the end of life.
To take a deeper look, here’s how AARP describes continuing care retirement communities:
“Part independent living, part assisted living and part skilled nursing home, CCRCs offer a tiered approach to the aging process, accommodating residents’ changing needs. Upon entering, healthy adults can reside independently in single-family homes, apartments or condominiums. When assistance with everyday activities becomes necessary, they can move into assisted living or nursing care facilities. These communities give older adults the option to live in one location for the duration of their life, with much of their future care already figured out. This can provide a great level of comfort to both your parents and you and take much of the stress out of the caregiving relationship.”
Advantages of a CCRC
In addition to the continuum of care offered by a Life Plan community, they also give your parent the assurance that they won’t ever have to move again. Even if they move from independent living residences to skilled nursing rooms, they will still be living on the same campus with the same amenities.
All CCRCs provide a host of amenities. Most communities include the following:
- Educational programs
- Exercise classes
- Gardening space
- Laundry services
- Meal services
- On-site nursing and health care
- Organized social and recreational activities
- Personal conveniences (salons/barber shops, banks, library)
- Processing of Medicare and insurance reimbursement forms
- Security systems
- Craft and woodworking activities
CCRC Fees and Options
Life Plan communities usually require an entrance fee, which ranges from $107,000 to $427,000. Each month, residents are charged a monthly fee, ranging from $2,089 to $4,154, that is used to prepay for care and provide the business money to operate. Many also require an application fee, which may be more than $1,000.
Most continuing care retirement communities offer three options:
Life Care Contract
This contract has a higher buy-in but doesn’t raise or add fees later on.
This contract provides a discounted rate for independent living and a limited period of assisted living or skilled nursing care. However, if your parent needs care beyond that limited period, you pay a daily rate.
A fee-for-service contract specifies only the services requested and payment for each service. Your cost will be lower when your parent is in independent living, but it will jump when and if they need assisted living or skilled nursing care.
How to Tell if a CCRC is Financially Stable
Most people choose a CCRC because it assures their loved ones will receive a continuum of care throughout their lives. However, if a CCRC is not financially stable, it may not be around to provide that care. In addition to checking a community’s standards, contracts, and level of care, it’s important to check its finances.
When you’re considering a senior retirement community, how can you tell if it’s financially stable? What questions should you ask?
Retirement Community Financial Stability Checklist
- Does the CCRC have its financial statements readily available to you? Looking through the financial statements, which may include the balance sheet, profit and loss statement (statement of operations), and annual audit:
- Are expenses lower than operating income?
- Are assets greater than liabilities?
- Is the number of days with cash on hand greater than competitors’?
- Is cash-to-debt ratio the same or higher than competitors’?
- Is the community’s occupancy rate 85% or higher? Unless the CCRC is new and just filling up, anything under 85% is cause for concern.
- Is the process for transferring a person to the next higher level of care documented? If not, the CCRC may claim inability to serve a person and transfer them, which usually requires higher fees. Ask to have your own physician in on the decision-making process.
- Is the community mature? Experts recommend choosing a community that has been in business for a number of years.
- Is it rated by Standard & Poor? If so, what is the rating?
- Is the sponsor financially secure? Many communities are sponsored by nonprofit organizations and faith communities, and some are run by parent companies. That’s something you should find out about any community you’re considering, because if the sponsoring organization is in financial trouble, it’s likely the community may be, too.
- Are the fees comparable to those of similar retirement communities?
- Does the organization have formalized risk management policies?
- Does the community have any recent or planned renovations or expansions? If so, how are they paying for them?
- Is the sponsoring company involved in any litigation?
- What type of insurance protection does the retirement community have?
- If the company has multiple communities or businesses, are the finances of each kept and monitored separately?
- What is the CCRC’s investment strategy, and who determines it? How is it monitored? Resident entry fees must be properly invested to fund future care needs. If you don’t understand the community’s investment strategy, ask your investment advisor.
- Has the CCRC developed policies regarding fee structure development, review, and frequency? If not, how often have they raised fees in the past and by what amount?
- Does the board of directors share information with residents on a regular basis?
- Is there a refund policy? If so, what is it?
- If the organization has an endowment, how is it managed?
- How often does the CCRC develop an organizational plan? If it’s more than five years, you should be concerned.
If the continuing care retirement community you are considering has a slightly lower cash-to-debt ratio or is not rated by Standard & Poor, there may be good reasons. However, you should hesitate if the organization refuses to provide or claims it does not have the information on this list that you request.
Alternative Ways to Ascertain CCRC Finances
If delving into financial documents is too much for you (which is understandable — it’s a lot to digest), ask your financial advisor for help. If they aren’t qualified, they can usually refer you to someone who is. Your local Agency on Aging can also offer advice.
If you’re considering several continuing care retirement communities, compare documents. If one of the communities does not have a certain document, ask for it. If they can’t — or won’t — produce it, ask why they don’t have it when other communities do.
Not Your Average CCRC
The Esquiline operates differently than most Life Plan communities. Because we are a nonprofit founded by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, our goals are centered around service to others.
At The Esquiline, there is no required application fee, and our contracts are month-to-month. A 60-day notice is all that is required to end your contract in the independent living apartments.
Feel free to ask us for any information you require to make your decision or schedule a tour online or by calling 618.394.6400 or 1.800.533.6279.