Evaluating the Cost of a Retirement Community

Continuing Care Retirement Community FAQs

When it comes to senior living, there seem to be as many questions as there are options. Below, we’re tackling some that we hear most frequently from people visiting our communities.

Question: Why do some retirement communities charge an entrance fee while others do not?

  • Answer: Not all senior living communities provide the same level of services, staff, and amenities. Some simply provide a house or apartment built to accommodate aging with maintenance services. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) include on-site supportive and health care services, including care navigation, and a comprehensive wellness program for aging better longer. Lifelong learning, social and cultural events organized by staff members in collaboration with residents, plus transportation, dining, and other amenities help support active aging. Entrance fees help support these key benefits. At most of our communities, entrance fees begin around $300,000 and vary based on the size of your residence. Depending on which Asbury community you choose, residents can opt for a declining refundable plan, where you do not receive a refund after a certain period of time, or a 50 percent or 90 percent refundable plan that returns to your estate.

Question: How does monthly billing work?

  • Answer: Residents remain in charge of their assets and finances, but many feel that financial management becomes much simpler thanks to the monthly service fee. It includes many expenses you currently pay separately, such as home maintenance, cable TV, dining, fitness memberships, etc. Many people compare the monthly service fee to the cost of their mortgage or rent. However, your monthly fee includes your residence, a beautifully maintained campus, and dozens of services and amenities.

Question: Do CCRCs provide health care services?

  • Answer: Continuing care retirement communities provide on-site skilled nursing care and rehabilitative services, assisted living and memory care, and many, like Asbury, offer home care services, clinics, and on-site pharmacies. How these health services are paid for depends on the community’s contract type.
  • Asbury Communities offers Type C contracts only. Under Type C contracts, a resident pays for assisted living and skilled nursing services on a fee-for-service basis. This means that monthly expenses will rise if assisted living or skilled nursing care is needed.
  • Type A contracts the monthly service fee does not change if the resident moves to health care. Type A communities typically charge significantly larger entrance fees.
  • Perhaps the greatest health benefit of continuing care retirement communities is one that seldom tops a person’s list of reasons for moving to one: studies show that CCRCs are good for you! Retirement communities are designed for aging better for longer, through staffing and physical design and in the programs and amenities they offer. Volunteering, planned trips and programs, resident clubs, fitness centers with trained staff, friendly neighbors just outside your door, transportation  – all of these make staying active as you continue to age much easier.

Question: How do not-for-profit retirement communities compare to for-profit?

  • Answer: Asbury Communities is a Mission-driven organization with a faith-based heritage that continues to drive our desire to serve. As a not-for-profit, Asbury uses excess revenues to enhance the services we provide and the campuses residents call home. We answer to a board of volunteer professionals who understand our Mission and are equally dedicated to strengthening it.
  • A second key part of our not-for-profit pledge is our commitment to provide benevolent care for residents who have outlived their financial resources through no fault of their own. See Asbury Foundation. It’s an important component of the peace of mind we strive to bring to residents of our communities.

Question: I don’t have a mortgage. How will my expenses at a continuing care retirement community compare?

  • Answer: That depends on your monthly expenses. A continuing care retirement community’s monthly service fee typically includes a dining plan that covers a certain number of meals each week, scheduled transportation, a staffed fitness center with classes and personal training, and a wide range of social, cultural, and learning events. Cable, phone, and certain utilities may be included. Residents typically find themselves using their cars less and spending less on entertainment and groceries.
  • In addition, homeowner association fees, homeowner’s insurance, real estate taxes, home and yard maintenance, and big-ticket home repairs go away.

Question: How do I assess the financial health of a continuing care retirement community?

  • Answer: We recommend that anyone who is exploring senior living to talk to their financial advisor. Prospective residents do take part in a financial qualification process, and it is important to understand your long-term financial picture. Looking at the financial health of the retirement community you’re considering is just as important.
  • Continuing care retirement communities are heavily regulated in many states, often with days cash on hand and other financial requirements. Check your states’ regulations.
  • Accreditation is an important marker of operational and financial quality. Asbury is proud to hold accreditation from the United Methodist Association EAGLE program.
  • Some organizations may have investment-grade bonds, as does Asbury’s Maryland Obligated Group bonds, which is another objective marker of financial health.
  • Communities should be transparent in providing their most recent audited financial statement and for non-profits, the IRS Form 990. Look for strong historic reserves, days cash on hand, and operating revenues.
  • Our communities also gain the financial strength of the Asbury Communities, Inc., system. We have been serving seniors for more than 90 years.

Here are a few resources for assessing the financial health of continuing care retirement communities. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information!

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