Moving into a nursing home in Pittsburgh may sound like an expensive endeavor. After all, the city is rich in art and culture and has museums and malls to cater to fine tastes. While the cost of care in Pennsylvania is above the median of the rest of the country, Pittsburgh residents have access to some of the most highly rated facilities in the nation. Over a third of the facilities rated above average during annual health care inspections. There are over a dozen properties to choose from nestled in some of the 90 communities throughout the city, so whether your money is on the Steelers or the Penguins, everyone is guaranteed to find a nursing home winner in Pittsburgh.
There were 79,442 residents in Pennsylvania nursing homes in 2014.
Pennsylvania is ranked 4th in the country for the number of seniors living in nursing homes.
The over 85 population is at the greatest risk for needing long-term care. In Pennsylvania, that demographic is expected to grow 40% by 2030.
Pennsylvania seniors pay the 4th highest rate in the country for long-term care.
As the state with the 4th highest cost of nursing home care in the nation, Pittsburgh residents pay more annually than the national average. According to national 2015 figures, the average rate for a semi-private room in a facility was $80,300 and a private room was $91,250 annually. In Pittsburgh, seniors will pay an average of $92,345 for a semi-private and $110,960 for a private room in a nursing home.
The rate for each individual facility will be different depending on the area, amenities, and more. There are over a dozen licensed nursing home facilities in the Pittsburgh area providing care to senior residents.
Around the clock care by a registered nurse and certified nurse assistants will be provided in a nursing home. The RN is typically responsible for working with patients daily to provide care which can include duties like giving seniors their medication, helping them to adhere to their prescribed care regimen, take care of wounds, or schedule appointments with occupational or physical therapists. The CNA’s on staff assist the RN and provide most of the daily care to residents. They are the primary line of communication to the RN, and to the resident’s family on their condition and progress.
Long-term care facilities can sometimes offer additional services like dementia care that is typically housed in another wing of the facility. Short-term care facilities exist to help patients who have recently been hospitalized with care before they return to their homes. Hospice services are available at most locations for residents and their families who are managing a life-ending illness or disease.
Daily meals are provided by nursing home culinary staff who are equipped to cater to a variety of nutritional needs including diabetics, vegetarians, low-sodium, or kosher diets. Nursing home residents will normally eat in the common meal hall, and in some cases, meals can be provided in patient rooms. CNA’s work with seniors during meal time to assist them with eating if they need help.
Nursing homes work hard to create a good quality of life for their residents and many employ an activities director to assist with daily programming. Entertainment examples might include movies, board games, reading large-print books, music or dance performances, and holiday or birthday celebrations. Spiritual counseling may be offered on-site by a chaplain who may also conduct religious services or study groups.
Some facilities have additional options and amenities available to seniors like barber shops, beauty salons, pools, fitness centers, nature trails and more. If you have a small pet, inquire about the pet policy at the nursing home you’re considering as some are pet-friendly. Activities directors may coordinate off-site field trips to various attractions in the area for mobile seniors.
A number of steps are required to narrow down your nursing home search, and one of the most important is to take a tour of the facility. On the tour, ask questions about the facilities licensing, staffing ratios, staff certifications, daily activities, typical meals and menu, and spiritual support. Request a copy of the state inspection from the current year and check to see if there were any areas marked for improvement. Ask a manager about changes that have been made to correct any deficiencies in the report.
Ask if you can join the residents for a meal to have a chance to sample the menu and observe the dining hall during meal times. Staff, current residents, and their visitors can be a valuable resource so take the time to speak with them about the facility, if appropriate. Before concluding the tour, make sure you are clear on what is included in the monthly rate, and what services may be added on for an additional fee.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a handful of favorite facilities, use the resources available at the Pennsylvania Department of aging website to learn more about the nursing homes. Here you have access to regulatory information, past inspection reports, and any documented complaint history.
Electing to share a room in a nursing home in the Pittsburgh area can save around $18,500 annually. Seniors who choose a semi-private room may also find it easier to socialize within the community with a roommate to introduce them to other patients and staff.
Whether a living situation with a roommate is the right one for you or not, you are likely still determining the best way to pay for nursing home care. If you have a long-term care insurance policy, it will cover the cost of care. Contact your carrier for a summary of benefits and to understand coverage and any limits on the policy. Ensure that you continue making payments to continue receiving benefits from the insurance. If a long-term care policy is not in effect, there are other options to fund your care.
Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program pays for 90 percent of the nursing home costs in the state. The program is available to low-income seniors with limited assets who are in need of care. Wartime veterans and their widows may qualify for the VA Aid & Attendance pension to assist with funding nursing home care. To determine if you are eligible and to apply, contact the regional benefits office in Pittsburgh.
Other alternatives to assist with paying for care include cashing in a life insurance policy or taking out a reverse mortgage on your home. If either appeals to you, contact a tax professional, financial planner, or trusted attorney to better understand the tax and asset implications of these options. Excellent resources for preliminary information include the US Department of Urban Development with details on reverse mortgages for seniors and this life insurance guide from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
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