Understanding Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Understanding Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

In an earlier post, I summarized many of the housing options people can consider in retirement.  You can check out the article here.

This post takes a deeper dive into CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities also known as Life Plan Communities)

CCRCs are an all-in-one solution to aging in place for people over 60. Residents start out living independently in their own apartments, duplexes, or single-family homes in the community.  As health needs evolve, CCRCs offer a seamless transition to assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing facilities within the same community.

Benefits of CCRCs

CCRCs are an attractive option for couples where one person might need more care over time. The average age of a new resident is in their late 70s to early 80s, but newer communities are seeing a lower average move in age. Common services and amenities include:

  • Home repairs and maintenance
  • Housekeeping and laundry service
  • Transportation
  • On-site medical care
  • Planned social/recreational activities.
  • Dining room/meals
  • Pool, fitness centers and classes
  • Guest rooms for traveling family/friends.
  • Approved vendors for assistance as you need it.

Ownership and Management Structure

Not-for-Profit organizations have a mission-based culture owned by Section 501(c)(3) religious or faith-based groups, or fraternal organizations. Their philosophy is generally to provide lifetime housing even if a resident runs out of money and maintain a foundation or endowment fund to be able to do this. Earnings stay in the organization for the benefit of the residents.

For-Profit organizations are usually owned by larger parent organizations responsible to corporate investors or shareholders interested in making money on their investment. Due to the profit-oriented culture, there may be a higher risk of being asked to leave if you can no longer pay. Some facilities do maintain separate charitable funds for this situation.

Do Your Research

As you explore CCRCs, you will want to explore your lifestyle preferences and compare available services & amenities. Research the organization, management and quality of healthcare provided. The financial stability of the community as well as the continuity of management are very important. How close it is the places you go often (doctor’s office, family, friends)?

Be sure to review the contract details and have an attorney review before signing. Consult your financial advisor to understand the financial implications of the entry fee and monthly fee.

Finally, it’s great to ask around and get other’s opinions, but remember that things could change over time. You need to do fresh research. Be sure to visit the community.  Some allow you to sign up as a day camper, visit the dining room or even stay overnight.

CCRCs often have waiting lists and deposits – sometimes 1-2 years out.  Some also have health and financial screenings. If you are interested in these types of communities, you will want to start planning while you are still healthy enough to enter independently.

Where to find unbiased information

CCRCs are regulated at the state level and are required to provide annual disclosure statements which include an in-depth description of all aspects of the community, audited financial statements and sample residency contracts. Disclosure statements can be obtained directly from the community or from the state.  Some states offer meaningful information on the communities located within their state.


Below are some helpful resources for people interested in CCRCs.


California Department of Social Services/Continuing Care Contracts Bureau

California CCRC Providers

Maryland Department of Aging

Where you live matters

My Life Site

My Life Site CCRC Checklist

Legg Mason/Franklin CCRC worksheet

Positive Aging Community


Jennifer Bush
Jennifer Bush

Jennifer has a background of over 15 years working in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Mainstreet, she worked 13 years for a wealth management firm helping to develop, create, and implement financial planning strategies for clients. Before that, she was a consultant and educator in the area of financial related employee benefits for SF bay area companies and their employees.

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