Choosing a Retirement Community


If you are over 62 and an independent adult planning retirement you should learn about the Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC concept. These are also called life care communities, because they are designed to incorporate all three senior living options – Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing and Long Term Care -- into one campus or community environment, supporting every potential stage of senior life.   

Entering a CCRC is usually a once-in-a-lifetime choice, and that's the appeal. Residents join while they are active and still able to live independently. They meet friends, join activities and settle into their home.  Later, if they require additional health care, they can receive it right in the same campus, from health care staff they already know. In order to enter a CCRC, you must qualify both financially and medically. There are many different types of CCRCs, and just as many different kinds of contracts and costs.

VIDEO: A Smart Financial Decision (2:17 min.)

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There are over 2,000 CCRC’s around the country, but fewer than 10% of them are accredited. RiverWoods was one of the youngest communities to be accredited by the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC/CARF) , the nation’s only accrediting body for these types of communities.

In spring 2009, RiverWoods was re-accredited for five additional years, and received a rare 7 Exemplary Ratings, noting that RiverWoods had surpassed the CCAC credentials significantly in those areas, a very unusual designation. The seven exemplary ratings noted areas where RiverWoods had industry-leading practices. The following is excerpted from the accreditation:

  • Independent residents can implement programs on their own to optimize the quality of their lives, and receive support from administration.
  • Collaboration between residents and staff in the budgeting process.
  • The non-smoking policy on campus, and the smoking cessation program implemented for employees.
  • The Going Green effort by residents and staff to create environmentally friendly initiatives to conserve resources.
  • The programs and staff consistently work with residents to preserve their independence and activities, to enhance the quality of their lives, even as residents’ level of independence changes.
  • The organization truly lives its mission by creating an environment where residents can organize and structure their own social, creative and recreational activities.
  • The resident handbook is available on audio cassette for residents with limited vision independence, resident involvement in the budgeting.

When the service, facility, or program you choose is CARF-accredited, it means your provider has passed an in-depth review of its services. It is your assurance that the provider meets rigorous CARF guidelines for service and quality -- a qualified endorsement that your provider conforms to nationally and internationally recognized service standards, and is focused on delivering the most favorable results for you.