There are currently 1,900 continuing care retirement communities throughout the country, with approximately one half of a million residents.   As you may already know, continuing care retirement communities are communities that offer seniors or older adults – depending on the community – independent living options with various medical and social care features.  There is a recent trend to offer senior housing options in association with universities, which usually give the residents cutting edge medical care.  The residents also benefit from being allowed to attend college lectures and have access to the universities exercise and recreational activities.  


Generally the residents live in an apartment or even a small house wherein nursing, memory care and other specialty care are offered as needed.  According to the trend has been to increase the level of disclosure and increase the menu of options.  The end result is a complex financial transaction.  Just as you would have an attorney review a real estate sales contract, given the various additional features and costs that can be added to the contract, it is always best to have an experienced elder law attorney review the contract.  There are, however, several things you can do to help avoid pitfalls when you start your search and start to inquire of the various facilities.  Addressing these issues will also help your elder law lawyer provide sound advice.   

  1. What type of advanced care do they have on site?  This particular topic may spawn a lengthy conversation about specialists, specialized nursing care, even housekeeping and upkeep for those with alzheimer’s or similar forms of dementia.  
  2. What events and activities exist locally?  It is not uncommon for communities tied to college campuses to grant access to sporting events.  
  3. Exercise and recreational activities on site?  Many often have a golf course, or other facilities, such as a pool or tennis court.
  4. What services are part of the default, minimum contract, what additional services are available and costs?  
  5. What is the breakdown on the costs and what may be refundable?  Many facilities will return your funds only if you stayed for so long, or if they can have some re-occupy your unit.  This is perhaps the most important single issue to address if your health is okay.
  6. What are the entrance standards?  There are usually age requirements, health and functionality standards.  
  7. Is there a waiting list?
  8. What happens if the resident cannot pay?  Does the facility try to maintain the resident in place or locate a suitable alternative?  Do they work with the resident in advance to avoid an potential future issue?
  9. Food and eating options?  Is there a cafeteria or some sort of dining facility?  Some places offer gourmet dining, others allow access to high end kitchen equipment for the residents to prepare their own meals, while even others have a round robin of residents who cook for other residents on a rotating schedule.  

Whatever your taste or desire, the decision should not be taken lightly.  After you have narrowed your list down to a few, ask for the pricing information.  Your elder law attorney will be able to best advise when you obtain all of the disclosures, applications and notices.

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