Savvy Senior: Choose continuing-care retirement community carefully

Jim Miller: Finding a retirement community can be difficult and expensive.
BY JIM MILLER, For The Oklahoman Modified: January 18, 2014 at 5:39 pm •  Published: January 20, 2014
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DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: Can you give me some tips on picking a good full-service retirement community that offers all levels of housing, from independent apartment-style to nursing home care? My wife and I are both approaching 80 and are looking to downsize from our current home, but we want our next move to be our last.

One More Move

DEAR ONE: If you want your next move to be your final one, a full-service retirement community — better known as a continuing-care retirement community (or CCRC) — is a good option to consider, but they aren't cheap, so you need to be prudent when choosing.

CCRCs are different from other types of senior housing because they provide all levels of housing, services and care in one convenient location.

While they vary greatly in appearance and services, most CCRCs offer apartments or sometimes single-family homes for active seniors who need little if any help with their daily needs. In addition, they also offer on-site assisted living for people who require aid to bathe, dress or perform other basic tasks, and nursing home care for residents who need full-time skilled-nursing care.

CCRCs also provide a bevy of resort-style amenities and services that include community dinning halls, exercise facilities, housekeeping, and transportation as well as many social and recreational activities.

But be aware that all these services come at a hefty price. Most communities have entry fees that range from $20,000 to $500,000 or more, plus ongoing monthly service fees that can vary from around $1,000 to over $5,000 depending on the facility, services and the long-term care contract option you choose.

With nearly 1,900 CCRCs in operation throughout the U.S., finding a facility that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget can take some legwork. Here are some steps you can take to help you proceed.

Make a list: Start by calling the Area Agency on Aging at (800) 677-1116 for contact information in the area you want to live for a list of CCRCs. You can also search online at leadingage.org/findmember.aspx or carf.org/aging that has a national listing of accredited CCRCs.