Imagine a senior living option that takes care of everything. Picture living in a safe, serene and social environment in which your every need, from luxury accommodation to health care, is taken care of. Imagine never having to move again, no matter what happens to your health. These are just a few of the many promises of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).
Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch and CCRCs are just about the most expensive senior living options out there. Some reports, including this one, by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) point out that it can cost $100,000s just to get in the door! Even once you are on the inside, you can expect to pay $1000s per month for the privilege of staying there.
Depending on the contract option that you choose, your health care may be included… or, it could be available “as needed.”
Still, in most cases, you get a lot for your money. I’ve seen continuing care retirement communities with hair salons and spas, exercise rooms and gourmet meals.
Here’s how one CCRC, The Cyprus, describes their dining options, “…we offer our members a wide variety of locally sourced, unique and delicious dishes, including the freshest seafood you can get! With a full-time personal nutritionist and heart-healthy, low-sodium and gluten-free meal options, we make it easy to maintain a healthy and delicious diet. Or indulge in our decadent desserts and ice creams… Whether you’re dining at The Bistro, in The Cypress Dining Room, al fresco along the golf course, or choose to have your meal to-go or delivered to your home, your satisfaction is guaranteed.”
To be clear, I’m not recommending the Cyprus, per say. I just loved their dining description!
If you are interested in finding out more about the costs of staying at a continuing care retirement community, I encourage you to check out this GAO report.
So far, we’ve only talked about the positive aspects of continuing care retirement communities. But, as this article in the Wall Street Journal points out, not everything is ice-cream and sprinkles in CCRC land.
Setting aside the cost of joining a CCRC, which is high, some experts point out that residents are actually taking on quite a bit of risk then they move into a new community. They argue that, because residents can, theoretically, lose their $100,000 to $600,000 joining fee if the CCRC declares bankruptcy, it makes sense to evaluate continuing care retirement communities as investments.
At the very least, potential residents should ask to see audited financial reports from the CCRCs that they visit. They should then share these reports with a financial professional to make sure that the retirement communities in question have the cash to weather tough financial times.
On the surface, continuing care retirement communities sound like an option for the ultra-rich. That said, it is more likely that the majority of residents are upper-middle class seniors who are willing to sell their homes for a chance at retirement nirvana.
I’m really curious what you think about this.
Can you imagine selling your home to move into a continuing care retirement community? Do you plan on staying in your home for as long as you can? Or would you prefer to move into a retirement community that can age with you? What do you think of CCRCs, in general? Please join the conversation.