We’ve all heard about various options for living situations for older Coloradans — from aging in place at home to independent living communities to assisted living facilities to memory care and nursing homes. But if it can be said that there is a single catch-all location for nearly all of the available options, it might be what’s called a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC. In a CCRC you can choose among different levels of care, taking advantage of both residential and healthcare services
Colorado has one of the fastest growing senior populations in the U.S., and there are numerous CCRCs across the state. Among the notable locations are Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins. These Care Communities are also located in Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Louisville, Lakewood, Westminster, Thornton, and Loveland. They can be researched at a number of internet sites, listed at the end of this article.
Which Coloradans are most suited for CCRCs?
The person most suited for a CCRC can vary somewhat from one CCR Community to another. But generally speaking, the best fit is an adult over the age of 55 in a reasonably good state of health. Another key factor is the availability of financial resources, as will be discussed below. CCRCs can be quite expensive. Some observers say seniors who are interested should move into a CCRC as soon as they meet the age requirements. The reason is that by joining early, you will be in a better state of health and thus able to enjoy the perks of independent living that CCRCs offer. You will be able to take part in the planned activities and be better able to establish meaningful relationships with other people. This can ward off isolation, a known risk factor for seniors’ overall health.
CCRCs offer prospective residents the possibility to live solo, usually in one-bedroom housing units, or couples can stay together, opting for a larger condo. Note that an additional fee will be required for each resident when there is more than one.
What levels of service can Coloradans expect in a CCRC?
Nearly all CCRCs offer the key levels of care, these being:
- Independent living
- Assisted living
- Skilled nursing care
- Memory care
- Rehabilitation (in some but not all)
While it is considered optimal for a resident to move into a CCRC while they are still in good general health and can enjoy the benefits that come with the independent living level, a key aspect of the CCRC model is that if your health needs should change (as they will for many over time), you can easily transition to assisted living or skilled nursing care. These levels provide for more serious and complex healthcare needs. A memory care level is available for those diagnosed with certain forms of dementia. Rehabilitation, if it is offered, is not really a separate level of care, but rather a complementary one, offered to those who have need for and can benefit from rehab, which is typically targeted toward recovering from some injury or other temporary health condition.
The advantage of having these multiple levels of care within a CCRC is being able to remain in the same overall setting, regardless of your changing health circumstances. Also, when transitions between levels of care are made, they may be temporary or permanent. You would be monitored to determine whether you can return to a previous care level. Medical personnel and support staff in a CCRC will consider a number of factors in recommending transitions, including your health status, potential risks resulting from health changes, difficulties in remaining independent, etc.
What are some of the amenities and other features in Colorado’s CCRCs?
Residents of Continuing Care Retirement Communities are typically given the opportunity to choose among a wide range of activities that can fill their time productively. The amenities of each senior housing unit in a CCRC are meant to provide a high level of comfort, as well as ensure safe living and prevent accidents. The idea is to make it possible for an aging adult to maintain a lifestyle that is both healthy and active.
Amenities and options in Colorado CCRCs might include but are not limited to:
- Wellness centers: offering such things as exercise classes for specific conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease), strength training, swimming pool, massage, balance and dance classes, etc.
- Activities: dancing, photography clubs, art studios, woodworking, religious activities, etc.
- Social gatherings: weekly social hours, social events, group activities.
- Residential features typically include apartments that are contemporarily decorated and that include safety features, pet-friendly options, meal plans, and more.
Costs in Colorado CCRCs
There are entrance fees for CCRCs, and they can be substantial. One online listing of Colorado CCRCs states these entrance fees can vary from $150,000 to $750,000, depending on size and location. The national average is around $330,000, but there are also facilities in which this fee can reach as much as $1.5 million. If a partner is joining you, the additional fee will usually be around $40,000. Even though these fees are substantial, they are generally not refundable.
There are also monthly fees to be paid. These typically range between $2,500 and $5,000. Note that these amounts are for housing units occupied for independent living, and they depend on the size of the respective unit. Not surprisingly, smaller one-bedroom housing units are the less expensive. The national median for monthly fee is around $2,500. With assisted living, which includes more services for the resident, the monthly fees vary between $6,300 and $7,600. Monthly fees for skilled nursing care and memory care, where even more services are provided, are comparably more expensive.
How do those moving into a CCRC pay for it? Some sell their existing home, the proceeds of which might be combined with other assets or savings. The costs that are tied directly to assisted living or skilled nursing care may in some cases be paid, at least in part, by private long-term insurance policies.
Due to these significant expenses associated with CCRCs, an upfront financial assessment is normally required to determine whether an applicant is eligible to be admitted to a Continuing Care Retirement Community.
Sampling of pros and cons with moving into a Colorado CCRC
If you are considering the option of moving into a CCRC, here are several pros and cons to consider as you strive to make an informed decision.
Pros of a CCRC in Colorado
- You will be part of an active retirement community, designed to let you enjoy an independent and fulfilling life.
- All levels of care are available within one single location, and transitions can be made as the need might require.
- Wellness centers and social activities will help you stay both mentally and physically active. This reduces risk of depression and similar mental health issues.
- At least some of your healthcare costs might be covered through private insurance or Medicare.
Cons of a CCRC in Colorado
- Due to high demand, the admittance process can, in some cases, take months or even years. And it might take time for you to find the CCRC that fits your needs the best.
- Moving at an older age might make the adjustment to a different lifestyle more difficult.
- Entrance fees are high and likely not refundable. Monthly fees are on top of this.
- The Community will have little age diversity, made up entirely of senior citizens.
What to look for in Colorado CCRCs, and where
The staff working at high-quality CCRCs continuously support the health, happiness, and well-being of residents. From housing to care quality, seniors benefit from excellent services and amenities. The best CCRCs have received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, as proof of their excellence.
If you are thinking about choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Colorado, research is paramount to evaluate not only quality of the Community but, just as importantly, how well it fits you. Gather all the information you need on what each Community has to offer. Below are a few online sites that may be of help.
On this site U.S. News & World Report has rated the “best” Colorado CCRCs based on resident and family member satisfaction with safety, value, caregiving, food & dining, and more. See https://health.usnews.com/best-senior-living/ccrc/colorado.
This site offers its rating of “20 best” CCRCs in Colorado: https://www.seniorly.com/continuing-care-retirement-community/colorado.
Two more sites offering information on Colorado CCRCs:
Comprehensive information on CCRCs in general and locations of CCRCs by state can be found at https://www.continuingcarecommunities.org/.