It would be easy to assume that nursing home care in Florida, the nation’s retirement capital of the world, would be very expensive. You might be surprised to learn that the average cost in the Orlando area is just above the national median cost of care. With dozens of options throughout the city surrounded by attractions for fun day trips including theme parks, shopping, shows and more, Orlando has affordable long-term care offerings for seniors.
There were 73,275 seniors residing in nursing homes in 2014.
The Florida over 85 population is expected to double by 2030. This is the age group most in need of nursing home care.
Florida had the 6th most amount of residents in nursing home care in the nation in 2014.
Florida has the 16th highest rate of nursing home care in the country. Despite that, in 2007, 88% of nursing home occupancy was full in the state of Florida.
Although nursing home care in the state of Florida is higher than the national average, the median in the Orlando area isn’t too far off. The nationwide median in 2015 was $80,300 for a semi-private residence and $91,250 for a private residence in a long-term care facility per year. In Orlando, the median annual costs totaled $88,513 for a semi-private and $94,353 for a private room.
The annual costs will vary from property to property, and there are over two dozen options to choose from in the Orlando area who all offer different amenities and services for their residents.
Seniors in need of a nursing home typically need access to care 24-hours a day. Nursing homes are staffed continually with a registered nurse to provide care as needed. Certified nurse assistants are also on staff to provide assistance with daily tasks like administering medication, helping patients to follow their prescribed care program, wound care, and scheduling appointments for physical or occupational therapy, if needed. The CNA’s report directly to the RN, and also communicate with the family on any changes to their condition or disease progressions they may observe.
Dementia care is also commonly found in a long-term care facility and is usually housed in a separate wing or building. Short-term nursing homes are available to patients who are recovering from a recent hospitalization and need care for a limited amount of time before returning home. Hospice is available in many nursing homes to help seniors and their families manage when they are diagnosed with a life-ending illness.
Meals are included in nursing home care services, and kitchen staff are well-versed in preparing food that meets a variety of dietary requirements. Residents who need to follow a diabetic, low-sodium, kosher or vegetarian diet will be provided options. Mealtimes are traditionally held in a common dining area, and CNA’s are on hand to assist seniors who may need help eating. In some instances, residents can eat meals in their rooms.
Many nursing homes will offer daily activities and programming for residents. Activities directors are in charge of developing the curriculum and it could include things like board games, movie nights, music or dance performances from local troupes or schools, animal visits to provide pet therapy, sing-a-longs, and parties for various holiday celebrations. Residents or families in need of spiritual guidance can request a consultation with the nursing home Chaplain who may also lead study groups or religious services for interested residents.
If you can’t imagine being without your furry friend, check out options like Westminster Towers who will allow your pet to live with you. Many properties offer additional services and have things like a hair and nail salon on the premises for residents. Some nursing homes in the Orlando area offer unique options, like the party boat available for rent for residents and their guests out of the Winter Park Towers community.
One of the easiest ways to see if a nursing home is a good fit is to take a tour. During the tour, ask lots of questions to get to know more about the services provided. A manager can provide you with information about licensing, meals, activities for residents, staffing ratios and spiritual support. Request a copy of their most recent state inspection and ask about any flags in the report to learn what has been done to rectify the issues.
Many facilities will allow you to speak with current residents, their visitors, and the staff on duty during your tour. Often times, you can request a meal at the nursing home to get a feel for the food quality, and to observe the interactions between the staff and seniors during mealtimes. Be sure to ask what is included in the normal rate, and if there are additional amenities or services available and their fee.
After determining which facilities are your favorites, visit the Florida Department of Elder Affairs website to access more detailed information on the nursing homes. Here you can find links to dozens of resources including complaint history, recent inspection reports, and other helpful regulatory documentation.
To reduce your monthly fees for nursing home care, consider having a roommate. According to the information above from the 2015 Genworth survey, seniors living in a nursing home could save around $6,000 annually by agreeing to a semi-private living space. Additionally, residents with roommates may find it promotes socialization in the community.
Even with the savings of a semi-private room, you may still be trying to determine the best way to absorb the cost of nursing home care. Some seniors will have the options of using their long-term care insurance policy to fund the care. Contact your policy administrator or insurance agent to fully understand what is included in the policy and any terms or conditions that may apply. Also, ensure that you continue to make payments into the policy so that it stays active and you don’t experience a cancellation of coverage. For seniors who don’t have a long-term care policy, consider these other options to help with the cost of care.
Over 80% of the state of Florida’s nursing home care is funded by Medicaid. The program is available to seniors with a low income and no assets, and an application is required. VA Aid & Attendance is a pension that seniors who served actively during wartime and their widows may qualify for. The regional benefits office in St. Petersburg can be reached by phone or in person and will assist with the application and give you details on the complete requirements.
Other financing options can include a reverse mortgage or using the cash value of a life insurance policy to fund care. Work with a financial planner, tax professional or attorney to fully understand the tax and asset implications before deciding if either is right for you. Visit the Florida Department of Financial Services website for additional information on cashing in a life insurance policy, and use the US Department of Urban Development website to further research reverse mortgages for seniors.
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