Active Adult Communities

10/2/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Independent living. Assisted living. Skilled nursing.

As seniors age, they typically go through three stages. They live independently as long as possible. Then, they may require a little bit of help – assistance – to continue to live on their own. More years go by or infirmities become more severe, and they require skilled nursing on a daily basis.

For many seniors, these stages of life involve moving from their own home into an assisted living facility, and then again into a nursing home.

However, many prefer the structure of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). These facilities include all three types of living arrangements under “one roof” (or under a lot of roofs on a single acreage!).

Continuing care retirement communities offer three levels of service – the most comprehensive of which is the life care community. Every life care community is considered a CCRC, but not ever CCRC offers life care contracts (discussed more below!).

Why a CCRC?

Having to abandon one’s home to move into a care facility can be stressful. But this stress is eased if it’s only a question of moving from one floor (or building) to another, rather than having to move clear across town.

In addition, if one spouse needs constant care and the other does not, both spouses are able to remain together. This relieves the stress of a spouse moving away from friends that one may have had for years – one’s friends will still be there in the retirement community.

Because one signs a contract which includes health care services, most residents will receive care that is much more expensive to people outside the community – thus saving money in the long run.

The idea is to make a person’s senior years as easy, convenient, and free of emotional stress as possible.


A CCRC can be a single building taking up an entire city block; these are usually found in large cities. Within the building will be a cafeteria and/or restaurant, plus exercise and entertainment facilities. The different health care living levels will typically be situated in different wings or different floors of the building.

A CCRC can also be several buildings – with apartments in one large building and individual bungalows scattered throughout the grounds. These are typically found in more rural areas. Someone may live independently in a bungalow for many years, before transitioning to assisted living or 24-hour nursing care.

Three Levels of Service (or Contracts)

Continuing care retirement communities offer three levels of service – and three corresponding price ranges.

The American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) has worked with the continuing care retirement community industry to codify the service levels and the contracts associated with them.

In order to move into a continuing care retirement community, a contract must be signed which puts legal responsibilities on both parties. It is important to read through any contract thoroughly so that there will be no unpleasant surprises.

For example, many communities have it in the contract that the rather substantial entrance fee is non-refundable, should the resident decide to move out of the community.

Not all communities offer all of the below contracts.

Type A Contract: The Life Care Contract

The Life Care Contract, also called the “extensive” or an “all-inclusive” contract, encompasses everything.

This contract ensures that the resident has their apartment, will receive certain services such as maid service or laundry, and that there will be food service available. They will also receive nursing care as needed, upon payment of a regular monthly fee.

These are part of a life care community; they essentially guarantee standard monthly fees, regardless of care needs.

Type B Contract: The Modified Contract

This contract is less expensive than the Life Care Contract, because the seniors do not receive the same guaranteed price for healthcare should they need to move into assisted living or full-time nursing care. Should they eventually need those services, the monthly cost will be more expensive, but still discounted.

Type C Contract: The Fee for Service Contract

The most inexpensive contract – at least in regard to the entrance fee – the Type C Contract also offers a residence and amenities. Should the resident eventually need to move into assisted living or nursing care, the cost for this is not discounted. Seniors with no underlying health problems typically choose this contract.

Type D Contract: Rental Agreement

This is another contract which requires no entry fee, but the resident pays a monthly fee for all services.

Before choosing a life care community, or any other type of continuing care retirement community, be sure to tour the facility, meet the people, and review all services and costs.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff