The words “nursing home care” can sometimes make people think “expensive,” especially in an area like Sacramento where the cost of living is known to be high. While the Sacramento area boasts dozens of posh facilities, the good news is that the median rate is not the most expensive in the country, and depending on which property you select, there are many price options available.
In 2014, California saw over 97,000 seniors living in nursing home facilities.
The number of seniors in California over the age of 85 will most likely need nursing home assistance, which is expected to nearly double by the year 2030.
California is ranked 2nd in the nation for the number of nursing home residents.
Even as second in the nation, California is ranked 10th most expensive average nursing home rate per day.
Nursing home care isn’t known for being inexpensive, but the average rates in the Sacramento area are above the averages of the rest of the country. Nationally, the median rate annually for a semi-private room in a nursing home facility was $80,300 in 2015 and a private room was $91,250. In the Sacramento area, the averages for a semi-private room were $94,535 and we see a median of $150,836 for a private room.
Annual costs can fluctuate depending on the property, area, amenities and level of care a loved one requires, and there are more than two dozen options to choose from in the Sacramento area.
Nursing homes are the highest level of care available and are staffed 24 hours by a registered nursing staff. Residents can expect assistance with daily tasks that could include taking their medications, wound care, help following care regimens prescribed by their medical doctor, and scheduling occupational and physical therapy as needed. Typically care is provided by certified nurse assistants who communicate with the supervising RN and the resident’s family members about their condition and changes they observe.
Most facilities specializing in providing long-term care will also offer dementia care on the premises in a separate area or wing of the facility. Other nursing home options exist to offer short-term care for those who need it to recover following a hospital stay. Typically, nursing homes will also offer hospice services to offer comfort to those seniors who have a life-ending illness and their loved ones during the difficult time.
Meals are part of the services provided by nursing homes, and each facility is equipped to provide meals that comply with a resident’s dietary needs. The nutritionally balanced meals can cater to diabetics, low-sodium, kosher, vegetarians, and other specific nutritional needs and requests. Mealtimes are typically in a community dining environment, but in some circumstances, meals can be eaten in individual rooms as well. CNA’s are on hand to assist residents with eating, if needed.
Most nursing homes have an activities director on staff responsible for daily programming for residents. This can include daily activities like games, sing-a-longs, movie nights, performances by local music and dance groups, visits by animals who provide pet therapy, and holiday parties for residents and their families. The facility will have a chaplain who can meet with patients and their families and provide consultations, and they may also lead weekly worship services and study groups for those interested.
Some nursing homes in Sacramento, including Pioneer House, are pet-friendly facilities. Often communities will offer extra amenities, like nail or hair services on-site at a discounted rate for residents. Seniors who are able to travel can partake in day-trips that some nursing homes arrange to local attractions or places of interest. Some facilities offer additional amenities and options above standard nursing home care, like Gramercy Court, which has provisions to allow couples to stay together when only one requires a higher level of care.
Making a decision on which nursing home is right for your loved one should include a tour of each prospective location. During the tour be sure to ask questions about licensing, meals, activities, staffing and spiritual support. Request a copy of the most recent state inspection report, and if any areas were reported as being deficient, ask a manager about the steps they've taken to rectify the problems.
If it’s permitted, talk with the staff, current residents and their family members during the tour. Join the residents for a meal to get an idea of the quality of the food, and observe how the residents and caregivers behave towards each other at mealtime. Take the time to fully understand what services are included in the standard rate, and what amenities may be available at an extra cost.
After you determine which homes you and your loved one favor, you can explore the resources available through the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General. This site has links to a variety of information, including directories for each home’s complaint history, records on their care quality, ratings, licensing and other regulatory information.
The most common option to save money on nursing home care is to choose a semi-private room over a private residence. Based on the 2015 median figures above, in the Sacramento area this option can save over $56,000 annually. Choosing to have a roommate can also promote socialization and help seniors interact with other residents in the community.
No matter if you choose to have a roommate or not, you may be struggling with how to fund the cost of care. In an ideal situation, there will be a long-term care insurance policy in effect that will cover the cost of a nursing home. Check with your agent or the policy provider to understand the coverage, including terms and limits, and to ensure that there is a plan in place to keep it paid monthly to avoid any lapse in coverage. If there isn’t a long-term care policy to help with the costs, there are other options that may assist you.
Seniors with a low-income and limited assets could qualify for assistance from Medicaid. Of the residents in nursing homes in California, the federal-state program provides assistance to 2/3 of them. Another program that may be of interest is the VA Aid & Attendance pension. It is available to veterans and their widows, if they served during an active duty wartime. Contact the regional benefits office in Oakland for a complete list of requirements for eligibility.
Two additional financial options that may exist for seniors are a reverse mortgage or cashing out a life insurance policy. In both cases, there is a financial and tax impact, so be sure to discuss the options with a trusted tax professional, financial advisor or later to understand the implications and benefits of each. The US Department of Urban Development has resources on reverse mortgages for Seniors, and the California Department of Insurance offers guidance for seniors looking to use the cash value of a life insurance policy to fund their long-term care.
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