What Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

How it works at a Continuing Care Retirement Community


A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), or life-care-community, is simply a community that offers several different senior living options or care levels all in one location, plus a guarantee of care for the rest of your life.

The benefit of this tiered approach is that it allows you to remain in the same community even if you need more care in the future.

For example, if you move into an independent living apartment in a CCRC, but then later need help with bathing and taking your medicines, you can typically transition to assisted living within the same community. Likewise, if you move to assisted living, but reach a point where you require skilled nursing care, you can usually stay in the same community.

While you may need to relocate to a different unit or area in the community as you require more care, a CCRC lets you can stay fairly close to your spouse, partner and friends who live in the same community.

Some CCRCs may offer more skilled care options than others. Typically, most CCRCs will offer the following:

What Does a CCRC Look Like?

CCRCs are often spread out across large campuses that are divided into separate areas based on care level. Each area may include a separate building, or multiple buildings, depending on how the community is laid out. In cities, the entire CCRC may be housed in a single multi-story building.

Your personal living space in a CCRC may initially be a small cottage or an apartment, and then later, when you need more care, a single or shared bedroom with a bath. Regardless of the type of unit you’re in, you don’t usually have to worry about any maintenance or upkeep, as all that is handled for you.

Your living space will also be designed to make your life easier, with features like handicap accessibility and emergency alert systems built right in.

What’s It Like to Live at a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Continuing Care Retirement Community elder watering flowers

The lifestyle that you’ll have at a CCRC will depend greatly on the level of care you require. In most cases, you will start out in independent living when you first move in, with little or no restrictions on when you can come and go, or how you spend your time. You can continue to care for yourself, have family and friends over, and pursue your own hobbies and interests.

Then as you transition to assisted living, you will be more closely monitored and receive more assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, getting dressed and taking your medications. If and when you need regular medical care, you can transition into the area of the community that provides skilled nursing care. However, keep in mind, that if you need skilled nursing care, and there is no availability on-site, most CCRCs reserve the right to provide you care off-site.

If you or your partner or spouse only need short-term skilled nursing care because of an illness or injury, you can usually move back to your independent living or assisted living unit once you are better.

There are usually lots of activities available on-site, and you can participate as much or as little as you’d like. You’ll also find many occasions to socialize with other residents.

Is a CCRC Right for Me?

Consider these statements below to determine if they describe you:


  • I am still relatively healthy.
  • I like having my own living space.
  • I like being independent.
  • I am willing to move to a smaller home, or am unable to stay in my current home.
  • I prefer to live on my own, or do not have a relative or friend with whom I can live.
elders having dinner at a continuing care retirement community

Daily Living

  • I need help getting in and out of the bathtub or taking a bath or shower.
  • I need help getting dressed.
  • I need assistance with personal grooming.
  • I get my medicines mixed up or can’t remember when to take them.
  • I can no longer cook or need help preparing meals.
  • I can no longer drive or can only drive very short distances.
  • I no longer feel safe in my home.
  • I feel isolated in my home.
  • I do not have family or friends nearby if I need help

• If all or most of the Independence statements apply to you, but not the Daily Living statements, then a CCRC may be a good option for you if you’d like to be able to live in the same community for the rest of your life. You might also want to consider these options:

If most or all of the above Independence and Daily Living statements apply to you, and you do not need regular nursing or medical care, then you should consider these options:

If most or all of the above Independence and Daily Living statements apply to you, and you you also need regular nursing or medical care, then consider these options:

Elders enjoying dinner at a continuing care retirement community

What to Expect from a CCRC?


Most communities have large dining rooms and common areas where you can interact with other residents. They also offer lots of daily activities that are good for your body and mind. These include:

These typically include:

  • Games
  • Learning opportunities
  • Arts and crafts
  • Movie nights
  • Religious services

The amount of freedom you have to come and go will vary depending on your care level. With independent living, you can continue to do many of the same things you do now. Then as you progress to assisted living and eventually skilled nursing care, you will be increasingly monitored and limited.


The services you receive at a CCRC will vary depending on your care level. Housekeeping, maintenance, security and meals are normally covered in the monthly fees for all levels, as are laundry, utilities and transportation.

With assisted living, you will also get a helping hand with daily tasks as needed, such as with taking a bath or keeping up with your medications. With skilled nursing care, you would also receive medical care.

Below are some of the typical living options or care levels offered at CCRCs. Click on an option to find out more about services that are normally offered with each option, whether you live at a CCRC or not:


CCRCs are in high demand because of the flexibility and the guarantee they offer residents. That’s why they are one of the more expensive senior living options. Unlike other options, CCRCs usually include a contract between you and the CCRC, in which they guarantee you care for the rest of your life in return for your financial investment.