The cost of living in the California bay area is known to be high, and when you first begin researching the cost of nursing home care it’s possible you’ll experience a bit of sticker shock. While there are several facilities to choose from in San Jose, be aware that the median cost of care is quite a bit higher than the national average. With proper planning and by following some of our tips below, you’ll find a facility that meets your needs, and your budget.
California had over 97,000 nursing home residents in 2014.
California is the 10th ranked state in the nation in the projected growth rate for seniors who may need long-term care (ages 85+) by 2030.
In 2014, California was ranked 2nd nationally for the number of seniors living in nursing homes.
California spends half of their Medicare funds on nursing home care, which ranks as the 10th most expensive in the country.
No matter where you are, nursing home care is costly. The average rates in San Jose are among some of the highest in the country. The average annual cost to seniors nationally is $80,300 for a semi-private and $91,250 for a private room in 2015. In San Jose, costs average $115,888 in a semi-private residence and $134,138 for a private room annually.
Those costs can range higher or lower depending on the location, property amenities, and more.
The primary function of a nursing home is to provide around the clock access to care and assistance for seniors. As such, they are staffed by a registered nurse 24-hours and have certified nurse assistants to provide daily care with tasks like taking medications, adhering to care regimens, wound care, and scheduling physical therapy if needed. The CNA will report directly to the RN, and also communicate with the resident’s family members about changes in their condition or behavior.
Dementia care is a common service offered by long-term care facilities and is typically housed in a separate wing or building. Short-term nursing homes are available for patients who are recovering from a hospital stay and need a short duration of care before returning home. In most nursing homes, hospice care is available for seniors who have an illness that will end their life and their loved ones.
As complete care providers, nursing home residents will have their meals prepared for them as well. The facilities are able to cater to a variety of dietary needs including diabetic, kosher, vegetarian or low-sodium diets. A community dining room is where residents will traditionally have meals, and there are staff members who will assist at mealtimes, if needed. In some cases, meals can be eaten in individual living quarters as well.
Daily activities at nursing homes are coordinated by an on-staff activities director and can include things like music and dance performances by local schools or troupes, games, movies, sing-a-longs, animals who do pet therapy, and holiday themed celebrations. A chaplain is commonly available for consultations for residents and their families, and they may also lead religious services or study groups for interested seniors on the property.
Some facilities, like Plum Tree Care Center, offer additional services like an on-site beauty salon or walking paths on the grounds. Day trips to surrounding attractions are a common place for seniors who are able to travel, and some facilities will allow pets on the premises as well.
Your first step to determining which nursing home is the best fit should be to schedule a tour of the location. While visiting the facility, find out about their licensing, what types of meals they provide, common daily activities, staffing levels and credentials, and spiritual support options. A manager should be able to provide you with a copy of the most recent inspection by the state, and inquire about any areas that were notated on the report to ensure improvements have been made.
Ask to schedule the tour during a mealtime and join the residents to sample the food and observe the interaction in the dining hall. If it’s acceptable, speak with the residents, their visitors and family, and the staff you encounter to get a better overall feel of the property. Be sure to leave with a thorough understanding of the care included in the base rate, and what things could be added for an additional fee.
Following your tour, visit the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General to do more research on the facility. Here you can find links to complaint history, care quality ratings, licensing history and other helpful regulatory statistics.
Many facilities offer a semi-private room option, and in San Jose that can save around $18,250 per year over a private room at a nursing home. Having a roommate can increase socialization within the community as well and is a great option for many seniors.
Regardless of whether a roommate is an option, you may still be questioning how you will finance the nursing home care. In an optimal situation, you will be funding your care with a long-term care insurance policy. If such a policy is in effect, contact your agent or the provider for a full summary of benefits, exclusions and limitations. Be sure to continue making payments on the policy to avoid a cancellation in coverage. If a long-term care policy hasn’t been maintained, there are other financing options that may help.
Over half of the nursing home care provided to seniors in the state of California is provided by Medicaid. The federal-state program is available if you have a low-income and limited assets, and requires an application to qualify. Military veterans who served active duty during a wartime may be eligible for the VA Aid & Attendance pension. Their widows may also qualify for the program. Reach out to the regional benefits office in Oakland for assistance with eligibility and to apply.
Other financial options that you would want to speak with a financial advisor, tax professional, or attorney about before considering are taking out a reverse mortgage on your home or cashing out a life insurance policy. Each can fund long-term care, but will have an impact on your taxes and assets, so be sure to do research first. Great resources include the US Department of Urban Development and their information reverse mortgages for Seniors, and the California Department of Insurance who has preliminary guidance, if you’re interested in cashing in your life insurance policy to fund your care.
Find assisted living in San Jose near you.