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Life Care CCRC Communities vs. Senior Rental Communities: Which Is Right for You?

As you begin your research for choosing a senior living community to figure out which is the best fit for your health care, financial, and lifestyle needs, one of the first key decisions you’ll need to make is choosing between CCRC retirement communities and senior rental communities. Understanding the key differences between these two retirement options can simplify your decision and help guide your process. Here, we’ll examine the differences between the two and provide insights to help you determine which one is right for you.

What Is a CCRC Community?

Let’s start by defining what a CCRC community is. An acronym for Continuing Care Retirement Community, CCRCs are designed to help seniors “age in place,” meaning that they’ll have access to the health services they need should their level of care change, right within their chosen community. This can range from skilled nursing and memory care to assisted living, depending on the community.

What Is a Life Care Community?

Life Care communities are a type of CCRC where residents enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their future care needs have been accounted for today. At a Life Care community, you pay a single monthly fee and an upfront entrance fee. In return, you lock in access to on-site care options at a predictable rate. This allows you to plan today for your future care needs, making the decision now about where and how those needs will be met.

Is There a Difference Between Life Care and CCRC Communities?

The term Life Care community refers primarily to the contract arrangement given to residents and the way this plan includes a more predictable cost for future care. Though all Life Care communities offer a continuum of care, not every CCRC retirement community includes Life Care contracts.

What Are CCRC Senior Rental Communities?

Much like in a Life Care community, you pay monthly fees to live in a rental CCRC. However, with rental communities, there is generally no entrance fee, and your monthly fee is based on the current market rate for the level of care you receive at the time. Your monthly fee for assisted living or long-term skilled nursing care, for example, will be at the current market rate for this type of care. There is usually no provision or discount when moving to higher care levels.

The Primary Differences Between Life Care Communities & Rental Senior Living Communities

Differences in Cost

Comparing Life Care and rental community costs can be tricky because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. While you don’t pay an entrance fee at most rental communities, you also risk leaving yourself vulnerable to unpredictable future care costs.

The entrance fee in Life Care communities is an upfront investment in your future care.  If you ever need to move to assisted living, rehab, or memory care, your Life Care contract ensures your fees remain predictable. And because most Life Care communities offer a full continuum of care on-site, you’ll be able to stay at the same address. Rental senior living options offer no such guarantees. In rental communities, you’ll have to pay market-rate costs for additional care at the time you require it.

Differences in Care Levels

Life Care communities generally provide more comprehensive care than standard rental retirement communities. A major reason for this is because Life Care communities offer a full continuum of care. Residents can start in independent living homes, condos, or apartments and easily move to assisted living, skilled nursing, or memory care residences staffed with nurses and other highly trained care professionals within the same community. Plus, emergency services are usually available on-site in Life Care communities.

Conversely, rental communities commonly offer supportive care services to residents in their own apartments, often through outside healthcare agencies. For rehabilitation or memory care, rental community residents will likely need to move to a completely different facility that provides those services.

Differences in Lifestyle

The greatest differentiator between Life Care vs. senior rental communities is the aspect of lifestyle. Full-continuum Life Care CCRCs are more like campuses than residential living communities, typically featuring a host of amenities and engaging activities. Many have multiple chef-operated dining venues on campus, a fitness center with group classes, housekeeping and home maintenance, and even lifelong learning opportunities. Life Care communities can also include hobbyist activities for beginners and experts alike.

Woodworking, gardening, art studios, and other activities are common in Life Care communities. As you might expect, they foster a friendly neighborhood environment in which residents feel at home in a community atmosphere. Life Care communities are communities built for a lifetime, while in rental communities your neighbors are more likely to come and go.

While senior rental communities sometimes offer amenities like fitness centers and housekeeping services, focusing on engaging residents and providing a neighborly atmosphere is rare. Some rental communities do offer a range of activities or high-end amenities to their residents. However, monthly costs of rental communities can substantially rise with more amenities added.

Elevated Life Care and Luxury Senior Living at Querencia

Querencia at Barton Creek is a proud Life Care community offering a range of senior living levels of care, from independent living to luxury assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation, you never have to worry about what’s next if your health needs change. To see more of our beautiful community and learn about our levels of care, visit our Health Services page here. Ready to experience the atmosphere for yourself? Get in touch to schedule a tour today.

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