That’s Greek to Me! – The definition of a CCRC

Thank you everyone for filling out my “That’s Greek to Me” poll!  Based on the poll, I decided to kick off this week of my “That’s Greek to Me” series explaining what a CCRC is.

The definition of a CCRC – like a college campus

Not every “old persons’ home” is a nursing home.  Believe it or not, there are different levels of care in the world of senior housing; nursing homes are just one level of care.  A CCRC, which is an acronym for “continuing care retirement community” is a type of retirement community that offers three levels of care all in one place. I started off my senior care career working at an amazing CCRC and love the concept of it.
Essentially, to understand what a CCRC is, you have to understand the three levels of care in senior housing: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing (aka nursing home).  Here’s a quick lesson.
  • Independent Living (IL) – When you live in an independent living community, residents often live in apartments/condos/homes where they may surrounded by other older people, but for the most part, they are still healthy and do not require any personal assistance.
  • Assisted Living (ALF) – While most people often mistaken assisted living facilities as nursing homes, assisted living facilities are different in that an individual may need help with a few things, but not everything (i.e., meals, medication reminders, etc.) The benefit of an ALF is that older people have the security of having someone there in their home or facility at all times just in case something happens.
  • Skilled Nursing (SNF) and short term rehab – A skilled nursing facility (SNF, pronounced “sniff”) is another more complicated name for a nursing home and is for people who are very sick and need 24-hour nursing care. Because they need assistance with many different activities, it’s important to have nurses on duty 24/7. Short term rehab is for individuals coming home from the hospital who aren’t quite safe to return home yet and need to do some rehab before going back to living in their home.
(independent living + assisted living + skilled nursing = CCRC)
all levels of care in one place
The great benefit of living in a CCRC is that you are surrounded with activity, but even more, you have the convenience and ease of knowing that if needed, all levels of care are available on one campus.  Therefore, if your health declines, you can easily transition from independent living to assisted living or skilled nursing (aka nursing home) without the typical stress of a huge move. There are typically many other services on campus that make it easy for you to “age in place”.
When I first learned the concept of a CCRC, I was told that it was much like a college campus and I can say it truly is. There were almost 3000 people living in the CCRC that I worked at, and just like a college campus, there were shuttles, a clubhouse (aka campus centers) small convenience stores, mail boxes, medical centers, physical therapy clinics, dining rooms, a pub, fitness centers and even a swimming pool.  It’s amazing!
My opinion on CCRC’s? – Most people don’t realize the importance of community and social interaction as you age.  Living in a CCRC allows and encourages the making of new friends, learning new things and reuniting with old hobbies.  At the CCRC that I worked at, there was even a club of men who made cabinetry for Habitat for Humanity. It was great!  While CCRC’s have a plethora of activities, most older people wait until it’s too late to move in and they are unable to take full advantage of what CCRC’s have to offer.  If you enjoyed the community you had in college, wait a few decades and then consider moving in!
In short, that’s a CCRC!