America has an aging population, and as such, more and more people are considering options for where and how they'll live after retirement. Overall, 70% of people currently age 65 or older will need some kind of long-term care according to the federal government.

“The gist of it is they (CCRCs or LPCs) include the full continuum of care options," meaning everything from independent or assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing care.

Many CCRCs or LPCs communities have minimum age requirements, starting at age 60 or 62, says Carol Ann McCormick, director of marketing and sales for Knollwood, a life plan community in Washington, D.C.

First, it’s important to know than that neither Medicare nor Medicaid pay directly for CCRCs or LPCs. They are federal health insurance programs and pay for care under specific circumstances.

There are two basic pricing models for CCRCs and LPCs, Carle says: the entrance fee framework and the straight rental model.

Some CCRCs participate in an accreditation process conducted by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, an international non-profit organization. There’s no requirement that CCRCs obtain such accreditation, and most such communities are not certified by CARF, Carle says.

Many CCRCs are in remote settings. A beautiful countryside setting may be tranquil, but Carle says many of today's retirees, which include many baby boomers, are less interested in living on what they view as an "elderly island" separated from the rest of the world.

You can also ask for inspection reports and complaints. The community's administration should provide those on request, which could save you phone calls or a trip to a state regulatory agency.