It’s no secret that many seniors come to Florida to retire. With year-round warm weather and blue sunny skies, you may think it must cost a fortune for nursing home care in the Tampa area. While the median rate is higher than the national average annually, the cost of care isn’t among the top 10 in the country. With dozens of options in the immediate Tampa area and dozens more in the surrounding bay areas of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, nursing home care has never been more accessible than now.
Nursing homes had a population of 73,275 in Florida in 2014.
The number of seniors in Florida older than 85 years is projected to double by 2030. AARP finds this is the demographic that most commonly needs nursing home care.
Florida has the 6th highest nursing home population in the country.
Despite being in the top 10 for population, Florida only has the 16th highest rate of nursing home care in the nation.
The national median cost of care is below what you’ll find in the Tampa area. In a 2015 national study, the median for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $80,300 and a private room was $91,250 annually. In the Tampa Bay area, the costs averaged $89,425 and $102,200 respectively.
These rates per year can change depending on the property you select. There are over two dozen facilities in Tampa, each with different services and options for residents.
Nursing homes provide care to residents 24-hours a day, and a registered nurse is on staff at all times to supervise that care. Assisting the RN are certified nurse assistants who will work with patients on their daily care and needs, as well as administer medication, follow their prescribed care or therapy, administer wound care, and schedule needed appointments with the physical or occupational therapist. CNA’s work for the RN and are responsible for reporting to them daily about the resident’s progress, any changes, and progressions.
Many nursing homes also provide memory and dementia care in a separate part of the facility. Patients who have recently had a hospital stay and are in need of additional care on a short-term basis may be referred to a short-term nursing home until they are discharged as safe to return home. On most properties, Hospice is a resource for seniors and their families if a life-ending illness has been diagnosed.
Nursing home kitchens have talented staff who provide meals daily to residents that can meet a variety of dietary requirements. Seniors who need kosher, diabetic, vegetarian, or low-sodium options will be provided for. Residents enjoy daily meals in a common dining area, although in some cases they may have meals delivered to their rooms. CNA’s are available during dining hours to assist residents with eating, if needed.
An activities director on staff means that the nursing home values the quality of life of their residents. These directors will program activities that can include movies, board games, reading in large-print books, music or dance performances from local troupes, pet-therapy, aromatherapy, holiday parties and more. Religiously inclined residents will likely have access to a chaplain for consultations or weekly services or study groups.
Animal lovers have a variety of facilities to choose from, like Brighton Gardens, where your pet is welcome on the property. Beauty salons and barber shops are available to residents on many properties, and others offer additional amenities like water therapy classes for a fee. Some nursing homes will arrange day trips to nearby attractions or shopping stops for seniors who are able to travel.
Finding the right nursing home fit is important, and one important step is to take a tour of the property. As you’re experiencing the facility, gather details about their licensing, staff ratios and certification, activities, meals, and available spiritual support. Ask for a copy of their recent state inspection and review it for any red flags. If any exist, ask a manager about improvements the facility has made to eliminate the issues.
Consider having a meal at the nursing home to get an idea of the quality of food and the interactions during mealtimes. If it’s appropriate, speak with staff, current residents, and their visiting families about their experiences with the care. Understand all of the details on what is included in the monthly base rate and what services might be available but cost extra.
If you discover a facility or two that you favor, use the Florida Department of Elder Affairs website as a resource to do more research. This site will link you to information on location complaint history, all of their recent inspection reports, and other regulatory documents that could be helpful.
Nursing home residents who elected to have a roommate saved nearly $13,000 annually in 2015. By choosing a semi-private room rather than a private one, it may make it easier and more comfortable to socialize as well.
While saving on costs is valuable, you may still be working on how best to work the cost of nursing home care into your budget. If you’re fortunate, you may have taken out a long-term care insurance policy that can be used to pay for the nursing home. If you have an active policy, check with your insurance provider about your benefits and coverage, as well as any limitations that you might have. Keep up on the policy payments in order to continue receiving benefits from the policy. If no long-term care policy exists, these are a few other options that might cover your nursing home fees.
Medicaid is the number one source of funding for nursing home care in the state of Florida, covering over 80 percent of the costs. Seniors with limited assets and a low-income can apply for the federal-state assistance program. The VA Aid & Attendance pension is available to seniors who are veterans and served active duty during wartime. Their widows may also qualify. For a full list of eligibility requirements and an application, contact the regional benefits office in St. Petersburg.
Depending on your situation, taking out a reverse mortgage on your home or cashing in an existing life insurance policy could be options to help pay for your care. In these cases, contact an attorney, tax professional, or financial planner to understand what impact this might have on your tax and asset situation. A great resource for information on cashing in a life insurance policy is the Florida Department of Financial Services website, and you can find more information on reverse mortgages for seniors at the US Department of Urban Development website.
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