Seniors, and their families, who are researching housing options may see different terms describing the residences. Assisted Living Residences and Continuing Care Retirement Communities are two of these options. What do these terms mean, and how do you know which is right for you?
Assisted Living Residences
Assisted Living Residences (ALRs) provide a combination of rental housing, meals and personal care services to adults. ALRs are not designed for people with serious medical needs and are not licensed as nursing facilities. They are intended for people who may need assistance with dressing, bathing, meal preparation, and medication reminders (ALR staff cannot administer medication, but they can remind the resident to take their medication.
ALRs operating in Massachusetts must be certified by the Office of Elder Affairs and meet the requirements set forth in MGL ch 19D, and 651 CMR 12.00 et seq. The Office of Elder Affairs provides a listing of ALRs in Massachusetts, as well as the certification requirements for assisted living service providers.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are a unique kind of senior housing option. In addition to the housing and personal care provided by ALRs, CCRCs also provide health care services as needed by the resident, allowing the person to "age in place" and not have to move if they require more services.
...the services they provide, so it's important to inquire which services are included in the monthly fee (which can range from $700 to $3000/month) and which are charged separately. In addition, most CCRCs require a large entrance deposit, which can be several hundred thousand dollars. You should inquire how much of this deposit is refundable, and under which circumstances.
The health care services provided at the CCRC may be covered by prepaid insurance that is included in the monthly fee, or by your own medical insurance. You should find out if you will be able to continue to see your own doctor, and hire your own in home care providers if necessary, or if you will be required to use their doctors and other providers.
Things to Consider When Reviewing ALRs or CCRCs
Regardless of which option you are selecting, you should always visit the facility, more than once if possible. Feel free to drop by unannounced and ask for a tour. Even if no one can give you a tour at that point, you will be able to see how you are treated, and you'll see the other residents and what they are doing. When on the tour ask about security, if pets are allowed, what the emergency procedures are, and see how the staff and residents interact. Also, pay close attention to the vibe you get, your gut is not usually wrong.
In addition, before you sign a contract of any kind and hand over a deposit, you should always have it reviewed by your attorney. The ALRs and CCRCs have attorneys working to make sure their intersts are protected, and your attorney is there to look out for yours.