Everything may well be bigger in Texas, but luckily that doesn’t ring true for nursing home care. The Fort Worth area, combined with Dallas, Arlington, and the surrounding cities have a better than average cost of care compared to the rest of the country. Even better, there are nearly 40 different facilities to choose from in the immediate area, and many of them are highly rated facilities that provide great care for seniors.
The Texas nursing home population grew by over 7,000 residents from 2004 to 2014. Most recently, over 90,000 seniors lived in nursing homes in the state.
Right behind New York and California, Texas ranks 3rd for the highest nursing home population in the nation.
Long-term care funding is on the mind of Texans ages 50 and up. More than 60% who were surveyed think the state should have provisions to increase funding.
Over 70% of Texans surveyed feel that workers who provide long-term care services should be paid more.
Inexpensive isn’t a word that is traditionally used to describe nursing home care, but the average annual rate in Fort Worth, Dallas, and the surrounding areas are low by comparison to the national average. Nationally in 2015, the median rate in a nursing home was $91,250 for a private room and $80,300 for a semi-private residence. In Fort Worth, private rooms averaged $78,475 annually, and the semi-private rooms were $56,940.
Costs will vary property to property, and there are dozens of options to choose from in Fort Worth proper, as well as dozens more in the surrounding communities.
Perhaps the most important part of nursing home care is having a registered nurse on staff 24-hours a day to provide assistance to residents. They are responsible for tasks like caring for wounds, administering prescribed medication, adhering to care doctor recommended care regimens, and scheduling therapy sessions with the physical or occupational therapists. They are assisted by certified nursing assistants who work close with the residents and communicate back to the supervising RN about the patient’s care and condition.
Many nursing homes are long-term care specialists, and as such may also offer dementia and memory care in another wing or building. Other types of facilities include short-term care facilities for individuals who need assistance during a recovery period after a hospitalization. Hospice is available at most facilities to assist seniors and their loved ones when they are experiencing a fatal illness.
The culinary team at a nursing home is equipped to provide nutritionally balanced meals that follow each seniors dietary needs. They are able to cater to things like diabetes, kosher, low-sodium, and vegetarian diets. The community dining room is the common area for meals, but sometimes meals may be delivered to individual rooms, if required. Residents can obtain assistance from CNA’s during mealtimes if they need help eating.
To keep life interesting in a nursing home environment, an activities director can program things to do daily. Activities can include games, movie nights, visits by animals who administer pet therapy, sing-a-longs, and holiday celebrations. The nursing home may offer spiritual support and guidance and the chaplain can provide one-on-one consultations with residents and their families, or lead groups and worship services in the facility.
Some properties, including Lakewood Village Retirement Community, allow pets to live with residents on the premises. It’s also common to have beauty parlors or barber shops on the property for residents. Some activities directors will include day-trips for seniors who are able to travel to nearby attractions or shopping centers. Some communities, like Brookdale Broadway Cityview, can offer extra perks, like an indoor swimming pool for aqua therapy for residents.
There are a number of things to inquire about in a skilled nursing facility. Take a tour of the property and ask questions about their daily activities, the types of meals provided, their licensing, and available spiritual support. Inquire about the most recent state inspection report and question any areas of concern. Management should be able to tell you steps they've taken to mitigate the problems that were identified.
Request to have a meal or two on the property to experience the quality of the food, and observe how caregivers are interacting with the residents during this time. If it’s permitted, talk with current residents, their visitors and family members, or on-duty staff. Leave the facility understanding what services are included in the standard monthly fee and what else is available for an additional fee.
After you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s wise to follow the Texas Attorney General’s office’s advice and contact the state Department of Aging and Disability Services. Their staff team can answer the AG’s suggested questions about each home’s quality of care history, their licensing, any complaint history, and other regulatory information.
To manage costs, inquire at facilities about semi-private room options. Based on the Genworth median rates on the survey above, electing to have a roommate can save around $21,500 annually on care. A roommate can also ease the transition by helping you get to know the staff and residents in the community.
No matter if a semi-private or private room is your best option, you are likely still wondering how to pay for your care. In an optimal situation, there will be a long-term care insurance policy in effect that will pay for the skilled nursing facility. If this option exists, be sure to continue to make payments and reach out to the carrier to get a summary of benefits and exclusions. There are other options, if you do not have a long-term care policy.
Seniors with extremely limited assets and a low-income could qualify for assistance from Medicaid. Of the nursing home costs annually, 2/3 are paid through the program in Texas. Veterans who served during wartime may have access to the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension. The program is available to their widows as well. The VA’s Houston benefits office can assist with complete details and eligibility requirements.
Cashing out a life insurance policy or taking out a reverse mortgage on your home could be additional options to pay for nursing home care. Both options require a call to either an estate planner, your tax advisor, or a lawyer you trust to help you understand the tax and asset implications. In Texas, the AG offers assistance to seniors considering the reverse mortgage process. For rules and guidance on cashing out a life insurance policy, look for resources from The Texas Department of Insurance.
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