Pennsylvania Continuing Care Retirement Communities

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Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Pennsylvania

A continuing care retirement community, also known as a CCRC, welcomes senior adults, usually over the ages of 55 or 62, allowing them to benefit from a continuum of care and, thus, to age in place. These residential communities in PA, designed especially for older adults, offer a tired approach to care, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care.

Prospective CCRC residents must be healthy and active to be accepted into the respective community, starting out with independent living. As the need for added care occurs, they can make the transition towards assisted living and later on to skilled nursing. According to the contract agreement, prospective residents must cover a hefty entrance fee, which can be refundable or not. Monthly fees have to be paid as well, covering healthcare, assistance, meals, activities, transportation, etc.

In Pennsylvania, there are over 200 continuing care retirement communities. These can be found in the following locations: Altoona, Berlin, Hollidaysburg, Huntingdon, Johnstown, Martinsburg, Tyrone, Somerset, and Windber. All of the CCRSs in the state are regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The healthcare facilities located on the campus are under the regulation of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Pennsylvania - financing and costs

Prospective residents can opt for different types of contract, and each contract agreement will have specific fees to be covered. With the type A contract, residents must cover an entrance fee, followed by monthly fees. If this fee is non-refundable, then its value is going to be considerably lower. This is also known as a life care contract, guaranteeing healthcare and service access for the resident's lifetime.

The type B contract, also known as a modified contract, might also require an entrance fee. However, the monthly fees might be subjected to change, and the access to healthcare and services is not guaranteed for lifetime. Last, but not least, there is the type C contract, or the fee-for-service contract. With this contract, some services might be included and the lower entrance fee is lower. Nonetheless, the monthly fees are usually at market value.

Pennsylvania-based CCRCs are expensive, with the entrance fee starting at $40,000 and going as far as $2,000,000. Throughout the state, monthly fees vary between $1,600 and $10,000. In Montgomery County, for instance, the average monthly fees reach a value of $3,900, while in Bucks County we find the lowest value, at $1,600. Comparing the highest value to the national average of $2,500, it is safe to assume that this is one of the costliest states to opt for retirement living.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Pennsylvania - care levels and services

The four standard care levels you will find in almost any CCRC are: independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care. All residents begin with the first and transition to higher levels as their needs change. Each level of care brings something different, both in terms of personal assistance and healthcare. Some levels, such as skilled nursing, might include the access to various therapies and rehabilitation, while others, for instance memory care, are targeted toward to a specific group of retirees (diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia).

In order to transition to a higher level of care, you must present an explicit need. For example, someone might make the move from independent to assisted living, as he/she is no longer capable of handling daily living activities alone. Some retirees need various treatments administered on a regular basis, while others have specific health demands (for instance, feeding tube changes are necessary). Transitions are decided by the personnel, in the best interest of the resident, considering one’s health status, need of personal assistance, and specific requirements.

The contract agreement covers the access to various services, destined to offer a comfortable style of living at senior age. CCRCs offer these services to all residents, with the most common including: housekeeping and general maintenance, Internet, cable, telephone, emergency call system, transportation to/from appointments, guest admission, 24/7 security, laundry and linen service, meal plans, etc. Additional services might be offered, but these differ from one community to the other.

CCRC in Pennsylvania - amenities and options

Each continuing care retirement community has its own provisions. Some CCRCs allow the option of an equity buy-in, while others allow you to purchase the respective property on their campus. With the latter, you are also allowed to customize your living unit, and you may sell it whenever you desire. Living units might include apartments, villas, townhouses, and cottages. Residents might live alone or with their partners and pets. To make sure pets are accepted, inquire about the pet-friendly policy first.

On each campus, you will also find a wide array of amenities offered. These are meant to help you spend your retirement in the most comfortable manner possible, and they might include: swimming pool, fitness center, beauty salon, theater, art studio, game room, wood shop, library, performance hall, greenhouse, flower garden, walking trail, dance studio, art studio. Other amenities you might find: activity room, post office, hiking trail, worship service, tennis court, golf course, wildlife preserve, dental office, etc.

What are some positives and negatives of moving into a CCRC in Pennsylvania?

Does the move to a CCRC make sense? Moving into a Pennsylvania-based CCRC makes sense, if you are looking to live your retirement in peace, and without the burden of caring for a large property by yourself. Let's see a summary of prospective pros and cons.

Pros of moving to a CCRC in PA

A residential community is designed to handle the very specific needs of older adults

All residents are of senior age, sharing common interests

Transitions to higher levels of care are allowed and encouraged

Can live together with your partner or pet

Life care contracts offer lifetime access to healthcare, services and amenities

Cons of moving to a CCRC in PA

Substantial entrance fee, which may not be refundable

High monthly fees – residents with lower or medium incomes might not be able to afford them

Not all continuing care retirement communities offer life care contracts

In some cases, it can take years before the application is accepted (high demand)

Some senior adults might be bothered by the lack of age diversity and actual location of the CCRC (isolated locations)

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