National League of NursingNational League of Nursing

The Voice of Nursing Education

Using Continuing Care Retirement Communities to Enhance a Better Understanding of Older Adults


Using Continuing Care Retirement Communities to Enhance a Better Understanding of Older Adults

Printer friendly version of this teaching strategy

Overview of Teaching Strategy 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) provide varying levels of support to older adults. Generally these communities have older adults living in independent situations, in assisted living situations, in skilled long term care, in dementia care units, and at times in short term rehabilitation units. The level of nursing interventions varies within each of these levels of care.  These CCRCs provide valuable teaching and learning opportunities for pre-licensure nursing students that enhance their understanding of older adults. For example, exposing students to older adults living independently often changes their attitudes that older adults are vulnerable and non-productive. Further, older adults in assisted living often require a different level of care secondary to either their cognitive or physical changes. Being able to care for the most vulnerable of older adults in the skilled nursing units or dementia units, with better understanding of who they may have been prior to needing that level of care, provides an experience for students to develop the empathy, skills, and abilities to provide that type of care. Understanding the different levels of care and experiences of transitioning older adults, whether the transition is permanent (independent living to assisted living) or temporary (rehabilitation to independent living) is vital to providing optimal care to this population. Helping students develop a better understanding of how to address older adults’ needs, while considering the risks and benefits of maximizing older adults’ quality of life are key lessons that can be learned in CCRC. This teaching strategy provides activities to help students better understand the complexity of care of older adults as a way to develop a sense of empathy and value for this population. 

Learning Objectives
Students will: 

  • Develop a better understanding of issues related to transitioning among care settings with regard to older adults
  • Utilize tools to assess physiological and psychosocial needs of older adults
  • Recognize and respect the values of older adults
  • Understand the complexity of care of older adults
  • Recognize the need to assess functioning when the older adult is transitioning among care settings 

ACE.S Knowledge Domains 

  • Individualized Aging
  • Complexity of Care
  • Vulnerability During Transitions 

ACE.S Essential Nursing Actions 

  • Assess Function and Expectations
  • Coordinate and Manage of Care
  • Use Evolving Knowledge
  • Make Situational Decisions 

NLN Competencies for Graduates of Nursing Programs

  • Human Flourishing
  • Spirit of Inquiry


To begin, use the links below:

Getting Started
Suggested Reading
Assessment Tools
Author Information