How Much Do Dallas Nursing Homes Cost?

Think “Dallas” and “nursing home” and you may have sticker shock before you even look at prices. After all, Dallas has a lot of places where you can spend big money: Neiman Marcus for designer clothes, the French Room for fine dining, and Park Place for trading your Mercedes for a Bentley. However, nursing home care in Dallas is generally more affordable than nursing home care nationwide. That’s good news if your budget is more Chevy than Bentley, although there are high-end care options in Dallas, too.

Fast facts on Texas nursing homes

More than 93,000 Texans lived in nursing homes in 2014, up from almost 86,000 in 2004.

Texas has the 3rd highest nursing home population among the states, behind New York and California.

More than 60% of surveyed Texans over age 50 think the state should increase funding for long-term care.

More than 70% of the Texans surveyed think long-term care workers should be paid more.

Nursing home rates in Dallas

Nursing home care isn’t inexpensive anywhere, but median rates in Dallas, Fort Worth and the surrounding cities are relatively low. The 2015 national median rate for a private nursing home room was $91,250 per year in 2015, and the rate for a semi-private room was $80,300. In the Metroplex, the median rate for private nursing home care was $78,475 per year, and the semi-private rate was $56,940.

Costs vary from home to home, of course, and families who need nursing care for a loved one have more than 40 options within the city of Dallas, plus facilities in Plano, Richardson, Garland, Arlington, and other nearby communities.

What services are included in nursing home care?

All nursing homes must have a registered nurse on staff and provide round the clock assistance with nursing tasks like administering medication, caring for wounds, following prescribed care regimens, and scheduling physical and occupational therapy. Certified nurse assistants provide most patient care; they communicate with the supervising RN and family members about each patient’s condition and any changes they see.

Most nursing homes specialize in long-term care, and some also provide dementia care in a separate wing. Other facilities, such as Doctors Healthcare and Rehabilitation, also offer short-term nursing care for recovery after a hospital stay. Most nursing homes offer hospice services to support residents and their loved ones during life-ending illnesses.

Nursing home kitchens aim to provide nutritionally balanced meals that follow each resident’s dietary needs, whether that’s a diabetic diet, low-sodium food, kosher meals, vegetarian dishes, or another option. Meals are usually served in a community dining room but may be delivered to residents’ rooms. CNAs help residents with eating if they have trouble feeding themselves.

Beyond the basics of care

The nursing home activities director arranges a regular schedule of things to do, such as movie nights, sing-alongs, visits by pet therapy animals, board games, performances by local music and dance groups, and holiday parties. The home’s chaplain is available for individual consultation with patients and their families. He or she may lead worship services and coordinate religious study groups for interested seniors.

Some Dallas nursing homes, including the Dallas Center of Rehabilitation and the Villages of Highland Lakes, let residents bring their pets to live with them. Many communities have on-site hair and nail salons that provide services at a discount. Some communities arrange local field trips for residents when possible. And, Dallas being Dallas, some nursing homes focus on luxurious care. The Plaza at Edgemere places all its nursing care residents in private rooms with daily housekeeping and laundry and menu items like New York strip steak with goat cheese polenta.

What to look for in a nursing home

When you’re looking for a skilled nursing facility, visit each one you’re considering at least once and ask questions about staffing, licensing, activities, meals, and spiritual support. You should also ask to see a copy of the latest state inspection report. If any deficiencies were reported, ask the management what steps they’ve taken to correct the problems.

Talk with current residents, family members and staffers, if possible. Eat a meal or two there to get a sense of the food quality and to see how the residents and caregivers interact at mealtimes. Make sure you understand what services are included in the standard fee and which are available at extra cost.

Once you’ve got a short list of homes you and your family like, the Texas Attorney General’s office recommends that you contact the state Department of Aging and Disability Services. Staffers there can answer the AG’s suggested questions about each home’s licensing and complaint history, quality of care records, and other regulatory information.

Reduce costs and paying for nursing home care

One way to reduce the cost of skilled nursing care is to accept a semi-private room rather than a private one. Based on the 2015 median rates for the Dallas area, this choice can save families about $21,500 per year on care. A roommate can also help you get to know other residents and staff members in the community.

Whether you choose a private or semi-private room, you may be wondering how to fund it. Ideally, you (or your loved one) have a long-term care insurance policy to cover skilled nursing care. If so, keep the policy paid up and make sure you understand its coverage terms and limits. If you don’t have long-term care insurance, there are other options.

Low-income seniors without many assets may qualify for Medicaid—2/3 of the nursing home residents in Texas get assistance from the program. Wartime veterans and their widows may qualify for the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension; contact the VA’s Houston benefit office to learn more about eligibility requirements.

Senior homeowners may be able to take out a reverse mortgage and use the equity in their homes to pay for nursing home care. Cashing out a life insurance policy may also be a possibility. In these cases, it’s important to talk things over with your tax advisor, estate planner, and lawyer to make sure you understand the taxes, fees, and other responsibilities involved. The AG’s office offers seniors help to navigate the reverse mortgage process. The Texas Department of Insurance outlines state rules and offers guidance on cashing out policies.

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