When considering various senior living options, prospective residents can feel overwhelmed by the process. There are so many different considerations that go into the decision: location, contract terms and price, quality, amenities, care services, and much more.
The advent of the internet has made researching senior living communities, such as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs or life plan communities) much easier, but it can still feel like you have a lot of questions that you need answered in order to make an informed choice. And I believe it is important to get all of those answers so that you feel confident about your decision. After all, this is a choice that will impact you every single day going forward.
My suggestion is to make a list to help organize your thoughts and questions. You may even want to categorize it by topic like cost, contract, facilities, management, and services. If you are computer savvy, a Word document or spreadsheet may be a useful way to stay organized and ensure you get all of your questions answered.
Free downloadable resource with CCRC questions
To help you with collecting your thoughts on some of the most important answers you need in order to make an educated decision, we have created a free downloadable list, “Top 10 Questions Prospective Residents of a CCRC Should Ask.” In this new resource, you will find some of the key questions that you should get answered, as well as details on why each question is important. (Note: Since this top 10 list was created prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may also want to incorporate some questions regarding the CCRC’s safety protocols into your own list of questions.)
Here is a preview of what you will learn in this free download:
What is the ratio of independent living residences to assisted living and healthcare residences?
Some CCRCs offer mostly independent living residences with a proportionately small number of assisted living or skilled care units available. The concern here is whether there is enough availability for residents to receive adequate care when needed. This is particularly concerning for newer communities, where very few residents require care now, but may in the future.
On the other side, some CCRCs evolved out of established nursing care facilities that eventually began adding independent living residences. In this case, you may find proportionately more residents requiring care services than living independently. On average, independent living residences represent 60–75 percent of the total residential units.
How have your monthly rates changed over the last five years?
This is important to ask for two reasons. First, it gives you an indication of what to expect going forward so you can plan accordingly. Second, it can provide insight into the organizations ability to effectively manage finances.
Average fee increases of 3–4 percent per year are not uncommon in the industry. If you find there have been years when the increase has been substantially more, you should find out why. Be sure you ask what the increases have been each year over the past 3–5 years, as opposed to an average to get a better picture of actual year-over-year increases.
What is the level of experience of your management team and board of directors?
An experienced management team is vitally important to maintaining high operating standards and diligent financial management. Ask about the management team’s experience and history of managing continuing care communities. Also look for a board of directors that is culturally and professionally diverse. The board should have directors with strong backgrounds in healthcare, hospitality, finance, and real estate.
>> Related: What About a Rogue CCRC Board?
Choosing which senior living option is right for you is a major life decision. While gathering as much information as possible can help you make an informed choice, it’s understandable (and normal) if you feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the details.
So, I suggest you begin with the basics. And learning about the 10 topics covered in our free resource document, “Top 10 Questions Prospective Residents of a CCRC Should Ask,” is a good place to start. These 10 questions and related points will give you a better understanding of some key issues that you should consider about each CCRC you are exploring.