If you\’re looking to make only one move that will provide for whatever
care needs may develop, a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community)
may fit the bill. A CCRC offers a continuum of care and allows you to
“age in place” – you can transition from independent living to assisted
living to nursing care (some accommodate Alzheimer\’s residents), all
within the same facility or on the same “campus.” A variety of housing
options is usually available, and there is often a community dining
area. If your goal is to remain in the same geographic area, the
sizable number of these facilities throughout the country may enable
you to stay close to your present location, yet receive the help you
need. Or, if you decide to relocate, you\’ll have the peace of mind of
knowing you won\’t have to move again.

There is a menu of choices in CCRCs. Residences may be condos,
apartments, single-family homes, or duplexes. In general, residents may
either pay an entrance fee along with monthly fees or just be charged a
monthly rental fee that covers certain services. CCRC contract options
are typically either extensive (monthly payments stay the same
regardless of services); modified (a set number of days of nursing care
is provided, beyond which the resident is financially responsible); or
fee for service (you pay a la carte for nursing services and other
health-related costs).

Entrance fees can range from $10,000 to $500,000, and monthly fees from
$200 to $4,000 per month. In some CCRCs, homes can be passed on to
heirs; in other communities, a portion of the entrance fee is refunded
if the resident leaves, or refunded to his or her estate upon death.
CCRCs can be pricey; if you are in poor health, you could pay a hefty
entrance fee for little time. There is often a wait to get into these
types of communities, although more are opening all the time. CCRCs may
be non-profit (Twin Lakes in Montgomery, Ohio is affiliated with the
United Methodist Church), or may be for-profit (Classic Residence by
Hyatt has 21 luxury communities in eleven states).

How can you check out a CCRC? CARF (Commission on Accreditation of
Rehabilitation Facilities) is the accrediting agency for continuing
care retirement communities. You can search online by state(s); go to http://www.carf.org/Consumer.aspx?Content=CCACSearch
and access the names, addresses, phone numbers, and websites of
accredited CCRCs. Or, you may call CARF at 866-888-1122. The general
CARF website (www.carf.org) provides helpful information on choosing a CCRC, questions to ask, and free publications.

In the United States, there are more than 2,200 licensed CCRCs (about
350 of these are also accredited) serving approximately 600,000
residents. Although not the long-term care solution for everyone, it\’s
a good idea to be aware of this lifestyle option.

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007). She gives seminars on the (primarily) non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Living from A to Z."