The Valley of the Sun is known for the amazing climate, world-class golf courses, restaurants, and high-end resorts, making it a retirement dream come true. Despite all of the luxury in the area, nursing home care is actually more affordable than the average throughout the country. The Phoenix area boasts over a dozen properties with over a third of them achieving an above average rating on their annual health inspection. With many options to choose from, there’s no shortage of care facilities to meet your long-term needs.
11,118 seniors called a nursing home facility home in 2014.
Compared with other states in the nation, Arizona ranks 33rd in nursing home population.
In 2008, Arizona saw the 21st highest cost of nursing home care in the nation.
In Arizona, the over 85 population is growing quickly. Seniors over the age of 85 are most likely to need long-term care services, and that number is expected to rise by 135% by 2030.
Seniors in Phoenix and its surrounding areas enjoy significantly lower rates than the national median rates for nursing home care. The national medians in 2015 were $91,250 for private residences and $80,300 for semi-private annually. However, in Phoenix, rates averaged $81,213 and $70,263 respectively per year.
There is, naturally, a wide variety of rates depending on the facility, the location, and the amenities offered on the property.
Around the clock nursing staff are the cornerstone of every nursing home. A registered nurse will be on duty all hours of the day, as will certified nurse assistants who report directly to the RN in charge. The nursing staff will assist residents daily with things like taking their medication, following their care routine, scheduling specialist appointments, and wound care. Typically, CNA’s will communicate any changes in the patient’s condition to the RN, and will also be responsible for communicating with the family.
Long-term care facilities may be equipped to work with patients with dementia or memory loss. Patients who have been released from the hospital but need interim care before returning home may utilize a short-term skilled nursing facility for care. If a patient has been diagnosed with a life-ending illness, Hospice is traditionally available to offer care and support to them and their families.
Seniors with and without special dietary needs will have daily meals provided to them by nursing home culinary staff. Kitchens are equipped to handle diets ranging from diabetic to low-sodium, kosher to vegetarian, and anything in between. Residents meet in the dining hall daily for mealtimes, and are provided with necessary meal feeding assistance by CNA’s on staff. Residents may sometimes also have meals delivered to their rooms.
Social and enrichment activities like movie nights, arts and crafts, music classes, performances by local dance or music groups, pet-therapy, and holiday celebrations may be provided by an activities director on staff at the nursing home. For spiritual consultations, worship services, and religious study groups, a chaplain may be available on the property.
Many properties offer additional services or activities. The Coronado Healthcare Center, for example, plans regular daytime excursions to local shopping centers for “retail therapy.” Other common extras are beauty salons or barber shops on the premises, and some facilities may even be pet-friendly and allow animals to live with you on the property.
An important step in getting to know your choices is to take a tour of the properties you are most interested in. On the tour, gather information like a typical daily menu, staff to patient ratios, a copy of their current state license, and a sample of daily activities. Request their most recent state inspection report, and ask about any areas that may have red flags. A good facility should be able to tell you the improvements they’ve made to fix the problems.
Another good practice is to ask to eat a meal with the residents during your tour. This will allow you to try the food, and interact with current residents, staff, and visitors to learn more about their impressions of the facility. Compile a complete list of all of the services included in the monthly fees and those available for an additional charge before leaving.
The Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services should be your next step. Their website has a number of valuable links to help you research your favorite facility, including their complaint record, additional inspection reports, and other regulatory information to give you insight into their practices.
Social seniors can save nearly $11,000 annually by choosing a nursing home facility that offers roommate options. Semi-private rooms are a great way to get to know someone quickly, and some seniors like having the company to help them make an easy transition into the community.
Social butterfly or no, it’s still important to decide the best way to finance your annual nursing home costs. Nationwide, 7 million Americans have a long-term care insurance policy. If you’re one of them, your nursing home care will be paid for by the policy. Contact your agent to ensure you understand the complete benefits and any terms and conditions, and put a plan in place to continue making payments on the policy to avoid losing the benefits. If your retirement portfolio doesn’t include long-term care insurance, you may qualify for one of these other financing options.
The government funded program Medicaid covers the nursing home care of approximately two-thirds of seniors in the state of Arizona. A number of criteria are needed to qualify, most importantly a low-income and limited assets. Military veterans who actively served the country during a federal wartime, and their widows, may be eligible for assistance from the VA Aid & Attendance pension. The regional benefits office in Phoenix can assist you with the application process and provide you with a list of eligibility requirements.
Homeowners may have the option of using a reverse mortgage to finance their care. Alternately, you may have a life insurance policy that you could cash out for access to funds. While both of these options are viable, be sure to consult with an attorney, tax advisor or financial professional first to understand the obligations, tax impact, and details of these transactions. Excellent resources to explore are the US Department of Urban Development for resources on how reverse mortgages can help seniors pay for care and the Life Insurance Buyer’s Guide recommended by the state of Arizona.
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