Nursing home care is notoriously expensive. Each day your loved one racks up another bill, and it’s not a shopping spree bill. There are a lot of other ways to spend your money, and nursing homes may not be one of the items on the top of your list. Luckily, you can find a quality nursing home with a price tag comparable to a Ford budget versus a Cadillac budget. If you want the Cadillac of nursing homes, those are also available, but you can find ways to save money and find quality care.
There were over 93,000 Texans that lived in a nursing home in 2014, which is an increase of nearly 5,000 from 2004.
After New York and California, Texas has the third highest nursing home population in the United States.
According to a survey, more than 60 percent of Texans 50 and older feel there should be more state funding for long-term care.
In addition to more funding, 70 percent of Texans feel long-term care employees are underpaid.
Nursing home care prices vary in different geographic locations. According to Genworth Financial, the 2016 national median rate for a semi-private nursing home room was $82,128 per year in 2016, and the price for a private room was 92,376. Austin, Texas is less expensive than the national median. In Austin, the average rate for a private nursing home room was $84,312 per year, while the semi-private rate averaged $60,228.
You can find various prices with different style homes, so it is always wise to shop around. You can also consider communities in nearby cities, which may be less expensive than city living.
One of the most important aspects of nursing home care is that there is a registered nurse on staff 24/7 to assist with medication, wound care, following doctor’s care orders, and scheduling needed therapies such as physical and occupational.
There are also certified nurse assistants to provide patient care and interaction. They work with the RN supervisor and families to monitor and report patient’s conditions and any changes they observe.
Nursing homes concentrate on long-term care for residents, but some also provide memory care for dementia and Alzheimer’s in a separate wing.
There are homes specializing in mainly memory care, such as Silverado Onion Creek, which received the 2017 Best Senior Living Award from SeniorAdvisor.com. There are also several facilities, like Westminster in Austin, that offer short-term care or rehabilitation after a hospital stay or services. Most nursing homes also provide hospice care for terminally ill patients and their families to make patients as comfortable as possible.
To keep residents as healthy as possible, the meals from the kitchen are nutritionally balanced and follow all the strict guidelines for each patient, whether they are on a diabetic diet, low-sodium, vegetarian, or even kosher. Residents can eat in the large dining room or in their rooms. The staff can help feed patients if they need assistance.
Since patients live at a nursing home, a nursing home activities director creates a full calendar with fun entertainment including movies, music, games, local performers, holiday parties, and therapy animal visits.
To help with the spiritual well-being of residents, the chaplain can counsel patients and families. Typically, each nursing home also has worship services and Bible or religious study groups.
If your loved one has a pet, some nursing homes allow pets including Southwood Care Center and Longhorn Village. Several communities offer day trips, onsite salon care, and onsite dentist care. For those with the finer tastes, there are also luxurious nursing homes, such as Conservatory at Wells Branch, that offer 5-star dining options and concierge services.
When choosing a nursing facility, you need to visit each facility and ask about the staff, activities, meals, licensing, services, and spiritual support. The state inspection report can help you see if there are any issues. Be sure to ask how they have resolved any issues reported.
Some of the best information you can get is word of mouth. Talk to current residents and see how they feel about the facility. Take time to eat there and test out the food. Also, get a list of what is included with your monthly cost and what is extra.
Contact the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) for information on your favorite facilities. They can help answer the AG’s suggested questions that include any complaints, deficiencies, the report from the last DADs visit, and any other violations.
One of the most cost savings options you can select is to choose a semi-private room versus private. Using the 2016 Genworth median rates for Austin, a family could save about $24,000 a year. A roommate may also help your loved one feel less lonely and get acquainted with the facility.
With or without saving a little with cuts here and there, you may still be curious how you are going to pay for this large expense. A long-term care insurance policy does cover skilled nursing care, so if you have that policy, you could work with your agent to explore the coverage and limits. Don’t forget to pay on time to prevent a lapse in coverage. If you do not have a long-term care policy, no need to worry as there are a few other choices.
Almost two-thirds of nursing home residents in Texas receive assistance from Medicaid. Veterans who served in the war along with their widows may be eligible for the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension. To learn more about how to apply and requirements, contact the VA’s Houston Regional Benefit Office.
For seniors who own homes, they may be able to use a reverse mortgage, which would use the equity they have in their homes to pay for medical bills. There are some life insurance policies that you can cash out early for money. Be sure to discuss these things with your tax advisor, lawyer, or estate planner because there are fees, taxes, and other stipulations involved. The Texas Attorney General can help guide you on a reverse mortgage. For cashing out a life insurance policy, the Texas Department of Insurance provides guidance and resources.
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