Making plans for your golden years can feel overwhelming as so many retirement community options exist. However, most seniors who currently live on their own consider one of two choices: an independent living facility or a continuing care retirement community (also known as a CCRC). How should you weigh these two retirement options?
Independent living simply refers to any housing arrangement aimed exclusively at seniors, most typically those 55 or older. While a range of housing styles within independent living exists, including apartments and detached homes, these types of communities are intended to work well with seniors’ particular needs as they are easy to navigate with little yard work or maintenance. Senior residents do live independently, but the sense of community is strong due to arranged activities, amenities and services. Depending on the community, these features can include swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, on-site spas, continuing education classes, housekeeping services and more. However, one key feature of independent living communities is that they do not offer a nursing staff or on-site medical care; residents are expected to be in good health and need little to no assistance handling necessary daily activities.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (or CCRCs) offer all of the same features as independent living communities with additional services and amenities. In short, CCRCs are designed to offer independent living facilities, assisted care facilities and nursing home facilities within the same community. Any required acute care (such as following a slip-and-fall accident) will occur at a local hospital. In almost every case, seniors are only accepted into a CCRC while they are still healthy and independent enough to live in the independent living facility. However, as residents need increasing levels of care due to advancing illness or age, they can move to the assisted care or nursing home facilities on campus.
Independent Living vs. CCRCs
As previously stated, independent living facilities and CCRCs do have many features in common. Both are likely to offer their residents a variety of recreational amenities. Common dining rooms and planned social activities help build a sense of community in both types of facilities. Most importantly for many seniors, both kinds of retirement communities allow those seniors who are still able to live independently a significant degree of freedom within a supportive community of their peers.
The major difference between independent living and CCRCs – and the reason why many seniors ultimately opt for the latter when evaluating their retirement choices – is the range of available care and options once living independently is no longer possible due to health or age. Residents of independent living must change facilities once they need a higher level of care, losing the community that they had become a part of. Once residents of a CCRC require greater daily assistance; however, they can simply move to the assisted living or nursing home facility within their existing community, providing CCRC residents with a greater sense of continuity of support.
A Continuing Care Retirement Community located in beautiful South Carolina, the Cypress of Hilton Head aims to cultivate a country club atmosphere for its vibrant senior community. To learn more about our independent living options, contact us today to schedule a tour.