Oklahoma has come a long way from the “wind sweepin’ down the plain” days, and today the capital, Oklahoma City, boasts an impressive array of business, sports teams, restaurants and attractions while still maintaining its down-home charm. The appeal of the area means many people live their whole lives in Oklahoma, and seniors may be looking for nursing home care. The state enjoys one of the lower costs of care in the nation, and annually falls well below the national median. With over 30 friendly and charming facilities to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the fit for you and your budget.
In 2014, 18,938 seniors resided in nursing homes in the state.
In comparison to other US states, Oklahoma has the 25th most dense nursing home population.
Not all long-term care is good care. In 2008, more than 2 in 5 nursing homes received below-average ratings on their annual health inspections in the state.
The population in need of care is growing. The number of seniors over the age of 85 in the state is expected to grow by 46% by 2030.
Oklahoma City enjoys some of the most affordable nursing home care costs in the nation. In 2015, the national median for care annually was $80,300 for a semi-private room and $91,250 for a private room in a facility. Oklahoma City saw more affordable rates with a semi-private residence averaging $54,750 and a private room $67,160 for the year.
Naturally, rates will vary from facility to facility and depend on a variety of factors including location, amenities, and more.
Having certified nursing staff on duty is one of the hallmarks of a nursing home. Registered nurses are available 24 hours a day to administer care and are assisted by certified nurse assistants. The nursing staff helps residents to remember to take daily medication, follow their doctor prescribed care routine, administer wound care if needed, and schedule appointments with specialists like physical or occupational therapists. The CNA reports directly to the RN in charge, and will also communicate any changes in condition or other observations to the patient’s family.
Seniors with dementia and memory loss may also look to a long-term care facility, and many offer these services in a separate wing, floor, or building of the property. Patients who have had a recent hospitalization and need additional care before they are capable of returning home may look to a short-term or rehabilitation facility to fill that gap. Most nursing home residents who have a life-ending illness can seek the assistance and comfort of Hospice for themselves and their families.
Daily meals are a cornerstone of nursing home care and are provided by kitchen staff who are able to accommodate a variety of needs. If you have diabetes, are kosher, vegetarian or require a low-sodium meal, a menu will be available for you. Meals are eaten in a community dining room, and CNA’s are happy to assist residents with eating, if needed. In some cases, seniors may also have their meals delivered directly to their room.
Life enrichment activities are coordinated at nursing homes by activities directors and can include arts and crafts, movie nights, board games, sing-a-longs, performances by local dance or music troupes, and birthday or holiday celebrations. A chaplain is on-site at many properties to see to the spiritual well-being of residents and can offer consultations, religious services, and spiritual study groups.
The amenities offered can vary from property to property. For example, The Villages at Southern Hills are a pet-friendly facility that also boast their own “Majestic Theater” for movie viewing. Other properties like The Fountains at Canterbury have a pool for aqua therapy and a beauty salon on the premises. Many activities directors will organize day trips for shopping or activity excursions for seniors who are able to travel.
Taking the time to tour each of your top prospects is an important step in deciding which is the facility right for you. Ask for a copy of the facilities recent state inspection report. During the tour, identify any areas that may have been noted for improvement and ask about changes that have been made. Also, inquire about daily menus, the number of nursing staff to the number of patients at the facility, and a schedule of daily activities.
It’s useful to have a meal at the nursing home to taste the food and see how the staff and seniors who live in the facility interact with each other during this time. If the property is comfortable with it, chat with current residents, staff you see, or even visitors and guests about their experiences with the facility. Obtain a summary of costs, items included in those costs, and available amenities for an extra fee before leaving.
Next, visit the Oklahoma Department of Aging Services website to dig a little deeper into information about your favorite property. Here you’ll find resources to view any complaints filed against the facility, other past inspection reports, and helpful information on regulations to give you all the tools you need to make a decision about the property.
Seniors who enjoy the company can save over $12,000 annually by electing a semi-private room at a nursing home. Having a roommate can be a great resource to help introduce you to staff and other residents and can make it easier to acclimate to the new community quickly.
It’s still important to determine how to fund your nursing home care payments regardless of whether you’ll be saving money with a roommate or not. Across the country, around 7 million Americans have purchased a long-term care insurance policy to pay for nursing home care. If you are a policyholder, contact your carrier for a complete summary of your benefits and ensure that you understand any limitations or restrictions on your coverage. It’s also very important to have a plan in place to continue making payments into the policy to ensure your coverage stays active. If you are not amongst those with insurance coverage, there may be other funding options to assist you.
Approximately 75 percent of nursing home care for low-income seniors in Oklahoma is funded by Medicaid. To qualify, there are income limits and you must also have a limited number of assets. Veterans, and their widows have the option to apply for VA Aid & Attendance if they served during an active wartime. Contact the regional benefits office in Muskogee for an application and a list of what is required to be eligible for the pension.
Other opportunities to access funds include taking out a reverse mortgage on your home or cashing in an existing life insurance policy. Both may help you pay for care, but be sure to seek counsel from a tax advisor, financial professional, or attorney on the matter before making a decision to fully understand your liabilities and tax implications. Seniors can learn more about how a reverse mortgage can fund their care on the US Department of Urban Development website, and explore options with their life insurance by reading the Life Insurance Buyers Guide produced by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
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