Living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) has some distinct advantages. First, you have pretty much everything you need right in one place: wonderful food, fellowship, shelter, safety, transportation, and even access to nursing care when you need it. You shed worries about things like snow removal, house and yard maintenance, and annual real estate taxes. Another huge benefit is having all levels along the continuum of care readily available to you as you age: independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled and long-term nursing care (nursing home).
People sometimes have the misconception that you must be a resident of the CCRC to take advantage of one of its clinical areas. Years ago, that was indeed the case for some, but today local CCRCs welcome residents from the community at large, not just those who live on their campuses. For instance, if you need care in assisted living, skilled nursing, or rehab, you can still consider the CCRC as an option, whether you are living in your own home, another retirement community, or are already in long-term care nursing care somewhere else.
Residents who have invested in a life-care retirement community pay the same for their monthly rent, regardless of what level of care they need (independent living, assisted living or nursing home). Some retirement communities have different packages to choose from that provide discounted rental fees in their clinical areas once the resident needs more care than that associated with independent living. Ridgecrest offers all three: life-care option (rent is not determined by level of care), 80% option (rent can be discounted once assisted living or nursing home care is required), or straight market-rate monthly lease.
Crest at Ridgecrest is a small skilled and long-term care nursing unit that provides both skilled and long-term nursing care. Across the country, the cost of care in skilled and long-term nursing has grown exponentially since Covid and is not expected to level off any time soon. For those who are not already part of a life-care CCRC or have not purchased long term care insurance, this can be an expensive venture. Fortunately, Medicaid is an option for persons who meet the criteria for institutional (nursing home) Medicaid. Iowa and Illinois have slightly different rules for Medicaid. Both are means tested; in other words, its availability is determined by your income and assets. With the Quad Cities straddling two states, that question comes up a lot.
Crest at Ridgecrest will consider residents who are on Medicaid (in the nursing home).
One additional level of care exists in Illinois, supportive living, which is essentially an assisted living level of care that accepts Medicaid. There are four such supportive living facilities in the Illinois QCA and surrounding communities. Unfortunately, in Iowa there is no such designation. Assisted living in Iowa is primarily private pay unless you have CCRC life-care or long-term care insurance. There are some places that may possibly accept Iowa Medicaid Waiver, but it’s not the same; nor does it normally cover enough to pay for the entire assisted living expense.
I’ve been a longtime supporter of the concept of supportive living as I believe it would open well health opportunities for those who need assisted living but cannot afford it. Sometimes, by putting off getting the right care at the right time, you may develop more complex and expensive health issues, prematurely requiring long term nursing care. This is not good for the person who is going without, nor for Medicaid that is ultimately going to spend more for that care in a long-term nursing facility.
I’m happy that Ridgecrest is able to offer all levels of care to the QCA community and that Crest at Ridgecrest offers skilled and long-term nursing care and can take Medicaid. I’m hopeful that at some point in the future, Iowa will consider making a provision for Medicaid to also cover the cost of care in assisted living.
Julie Arndt is a licensed social worker and Director of Marketing at Ridgecrest Village with over 30 years’ experience working in the field of geriatrics and senior advocacy. She can be reached at email@example.com.