There is no doubt that language in the senior housing world can be confusing. It is often difficult to differentiate between “assisted living,” “skilled nursing,” “independent living,” “continuing care,” “age-restricted” and the myriad of other terms used to describe retirement communities. A decision last month at the Leading Age Annual Meeting in Boston didn’t make the process any easier. Those considering a “Continuing Care Retirement Community,” will now be seeking out a facility officially called a “Life Plan Community” instead.
While researching CCRCs, I will admit that I was never a fan of that name or acronym. In addition to being a mouthful, it could also be used to describe several other completely unrelated entities. For instance, in academia you might find yourself at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (CCRC) at the University of Georgia. College sports fans may find themselves cheering on a team in the Colonial Coast Rugby Conference (CCRC). Finally, in a hospital environment, you may encounter a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC). Ironically, my wife holds that nursing designation.
While the name has changed, the role of the LPC (formerly the CCRC) will remain the same: To provide a continuum of care in one environment for seniors, offering levels ranging from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing.
It appears that the name change was primarily a way to speak to the desires of younger prospective residents who reacted negatively to the idea of “continuing care,” but positively to the idea of having a “life plan.” While the new name may bring more focus to the independent living aspects of the communities—such as social activities and wellness events—it somewhat mutes the inevitable truth: That we may be unable to care for ourselves later in life, and that we may need extra help.
As you evaluate senior housing and care needs for yourself or a loved one, here is a helpful glossary to complicated phrases you may hear along the way:
Types of Facilities & Services*
Assisted Living Residences & Comprehensive Personal Care Homes
These homelike, residential settings assist seniors with activities of daily living so they can “age in place.” Units are generally apartment-style living rentals. Rental rates may increase as residents move to units that offer higher levels of supportive and health services. These facilities offer residents health and social services as needed. The emphasis is on enabling residents to maintain their independence and privacy as long as possible, while living in a supportive environment that helps protect their health and safety. The Department of Health and Senior Services licenses (DHSS) assisted living facilities.
Life Plan Communities (formerly known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs)
Residents enter into a contract with the facility to receive a continuum of care ranging from independent living through long-term care. An entrance fee and ongoing monthly charges for services are typical. Residents usually join these communities while they still in relatively good health. As they age and develop additional health and personal care needs, residents have access to licensed long-term care units (assisted living or nursing home) available within the community. Monthly charges for higher-levels of care may increase, depending on the LPC’s contract. LPCs are certified by the Department of Community Affairs.
Independent/Subsidized Housing Facilities
These units traditionally include individual apartment units with kitchens or kitchenettes for residents who wish to prepare their own meals. Rents vary widely depending upon the size of the apartment and services offered. In addition, many facilities receive government subsidies so they can offer sliding rental rates based on qualified residents’ incomes. Depending on the facility, resident may have access to services such as meal programs, housekeeping, transportation, counseling and social activities.
Long-Term Care/Nursing Facilities
The DHSS licenses these facilities to provide 24-hour nursing and health care services to residents with significant physical or mental health needs. For instance, long-term care may be necessary for individuals who have Alzheimer’s Disease or related disorders, have suffered a catastrophic illness or accident, or who need physical rehabilitation, recuperation time after a serious hospitalization, tube feeding, restorative services or other specialized treatment. Some providers may be eligible for Medicare and/or Medicaid funding.
Residential Health Care Facilities
This type of facility is often best for seniors who are unable to live independently, but who can still walk (perhaps with an assistive device), are reasonably cognitively healthy and have no significant medical needs. These facilities provide a home-like atmosphere and offer services such as meals, housekeeping, laundry service, recreational activities, supervision of medication, and help getting health services. Many long-term care facilities offer separate residential health care units like these for individuals who don’t need skilled nursing care. Facilities are licensed by the DHSS.
Home & Community-Based Services
This category includes a wide range of health and support services for individuals who wish to stay in their own homes as they age. Help is also available for the resident’s caregivers, who may need support and respite. Services include: Adult Day Services; Care Managers; Home Health Care; Homemaker or Chore Services; Home-Delivered Meals; Hospice Care; Personal Care Services; Respite Care; Financial Counseling; Information & Referral; and Transportation Services.
* Source: Leading Age NJ: www.leadingagenj.org
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Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request.
This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This article is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.
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