Continuing Care Retirement Communities Vs. Aging in Place

As individuals age, the question of where to live becomes increasingly important. Two popular options are continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and assisted living communities allowing aging-in-place. In this article, we’ll compare these types of senior living providers to help you make an informed decision.

Providence Place’s Age-in-Place Model

We offer a unique age-in-place model of care in which a person can remain living in the same apartment in our community in most scenarios. If support services are needed, we bring those services to the resident’s apartment. 

Because we are licensed as assisted living, we are permitted to provide some elements of skilled care in our homelike setting. And we have always believed in being both a hospice-friendly and pet-friendly community.

We are proud that most of the residents in Providence Place Senior Living remain with us for the rest of their lives, surrounded by the friends and staff that have served them throughout their stay in our community.

Comparing Our Model with a CCRC

Most CCRCs separate residents geographically by level of care needs. Residents who are independent normally live in cottages or apartments that are only meant for independent persons without access to assistance with tasks of daily living.

If a member of a couple or an individual resident needs assistance with medications or activities of daily living, they are generally required to move to the personal care or assisted living building to receive that support. Therefore, they must both leave the friends and staff with whom they have built relationships with.  

If the support needs are significant, they may be required to move to the skilled nursing facility.  Those moves do not normally allow the spouse with lesser service needs to continue living with their partner. In that sense, the CCRC model does not permit aging-in-place (in the same apartment) but does permit aging within their campus.

Providence Place’s age-in-place model is unique in allowing a couple with different care needs to pay for only the care that each individual needs in the same location even as those needs change. Often, there is a couple in which one member is a caregiver to a partner with much greater support needs. In that situation, the caregiver can be independent living, and the one with support needs can be assisted living. It allows the couple to remain together without the burden of providing all the care themselves.

If you have any questions, please reach out to one of our sales directors.

CCRC Costs

The costs of CCRCs can vary significantly, and most require large, non-refundable fees in excess of $100,000 to move into their independent living cottages or apartments. Once you’re moved into independent living, the monthly charges are normally average to slightly below average in the industry. It’s often difficult to leave a CCRC without losing a substantial portion of your upfront fee. In all rental senior living, you may leave at any time, by giving 30 days’ notice.

In general, the CCRC charges for assisted living or personal care tend to be higher than the cost of stand-alone assisted living communities, which normally cost between $150 to $300 per day. 

Social Connections for Seniors

The CCRC model does not normally offer more opportunities for social connections than other types of senior living providers. Studies have shown that socialization, physical activity, and a sense of purpose are the three areas that determine seniors’ quantity and quality of life in their later years.

Connections are extremely important to healthy aging. The challenge for senior living providers is to offer activities that encourage authentic connections among community members. That might include clubs, teams, choirs, support groups, or volunteer opportunities.

At Providence Place, we want to make sure each resident is able to pursue their interests. So, our community life includes a wide variety of clubs, events, and outings. These opportunities to engage with others in social and physical activities help promote healthy aging.

Choosing an Independent or Assisted Living Community

Before choosing a senior care facility, take a tour — but don’t be fooled by a beautiful new building. The important aspects are the quality of their:

  • Staff
  • Cleanliness
  • Meals (Without telling them in advance, ask to eat a meal and expect it to be hot and tasty)
  • Activities (What interesting outings or speakers have they had?)
  • Regular outings (Ask about trips to the bank, library, store, and pharmacy)

While you’re touring the facility, feel free to ask the residents how they like it there. Find out what activities are happening that day, if they have religious services or support, and what decisions the residents get to make.

Also, you should visit several communities, even if you think you’ve made a decision. Try to visit your top preference at least twice, so you can get a feel for the culture. Are the people there generally happy, nice, and welcoming?

How do you Wish to Spend the Final Months and Years of your Life?

For most people, the answer is that they want to spend their final days in a community that is not institutional – like a skilled nursing facility or a hospital. But this isn’t possible for most residents in senior living. They are often required to move to a skilled nursing facility for the final weeks of their life.

Our residents and their families tell us that they want to live in a homelike assisted living community until the very end, if possible. Our goal is to safely make that available for as many of our residents as we can. 

Currently, more than 60% of our residents pass away living at Providence Place Senior Living, surrounded by the caregivers and nurses they know well and by the friends and family they love.  Most of them use hospice services to help support their loved one in the final season while living in our community. We work seamlessly with the hospice provider to support the residents and their family in their final days.

However, there are times when care needs and clinical complexity make it unwise for a resident to remain in assisted living. In those situations, we agree that the resident should move to a nursing home and receive a higher level of clinical care with RN oversight.

Regulations in Pennsylvania

  • Independent living isn’t licensed by the State of Pennsylvania. 
  • Personal care is licensed as a non-healthcare level of support, but many personal care homes have nurses on staff.
  • Assisted living residences are licensed as health care and age-in-place communities. They are required to have greater space and greater nursing support than personal care.

Most CCRCs have large independent living communities with cottages and apartments. They also often have a modest-sized personal care building for residents who require assistance with activities of daily living. And they normally have a fairly large skilled nursing facility.  

One unique aspect of CCRCs is that they often move residents to skilled nursing at a much lower acuity (less complex medical needs) than the other senior living providers. And skilled nursing facilities can cost up to $400 per day.

At Providence Place, although a resident may go for a short stay at a nursing home after surgery, most return to assisted living once stabilized. This is often not just less costly, but also much more comfortable than residing in a skilled nursing facility. We offer independent living, assisted living, and memory care in each individual community of about 100 to 150 residents.

Schedule a tour at one of our communities in Chambersburg, Dover (York), Lancaster, Collegeville, Drums (Hazleton), Pine Grove, or Pottsville.

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