Mom Getting Old? Tips to Finding a Good Long-Term Care Facility
With today’s longer lifespans, many adults find themselves helping aging parents in various capacities, such as finding the best long-term care. To help your parent make a good decision—or, if needed, to make the decision for them—it’s important to consider several factors.
First, you need to identify the type of care Mom (and/or Dad) requires. Is she independent? Or does she require some assistance with activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing, and eating? Or does she require 24-hour care for conditions such as Alzheimer’s or other disabilities? Also, you need to ask Mom what her definition of independence is. We all have different ideas of what it means to be independent.
It’s important to remember that Mom’s overall health and safety are related to her living environment. Older adults with physical or other health conditions may require accommodations and a more supportive environment.
Location of Care
Just like buying a house, location is important. Does Mom want to live in the same neighborhood where she grew up? Does she want to live in the same city where she currently lives? Does she want to live near family and relatives?
Living in the same neighborhood has its pros and cons. The pros are that friends and family will be close enough to visit. Mom’s favorite shopping centers and restaurants will be close and familiar. However, if Mom’s neighborhood is near a freeway and noisy, for example, then consider moving to a quieter facility away from traffic.
Living in a city where family isn’t nearby can be challenging. This is because it may be more difficult for family members to visit. If Mom has an acute health issue, such as a fall that requires hospitalization, will family be close enough to help?
Cost of Care
Paying for long-term care is expensive. Most older adults need financial assistance of some kind. Many older adults haven’t planned to pay for long-term care and, instead, expect the government to pay for it. However, in most cases, the resident is responsible for paying for their long-term care.
How much does long-term care cost? The cost of assisted living facilities nationwide can vary from $2,000 to $5,000 per month. In 2016, the average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home was $92,378,* or about $250 per day.
What government financial assistance is available to help Mom pay for long-term care?
- Medicaid pays for about 50% of long-term care. Medicaid regulations vary by state. Some states may pay for assisted living care, nursing home care, and skilled care in the home.
- Medicare usually will not pay for long-term care. Medicare pays for short-term requirements, including rehabilitation. Medicare will only pay for care in Medicare-certified skilled nursing facilities or through Medicare-certified home health or hospice agencies. It will never pay for care in a continuing-care retirement community or in an assisted-living.
What private financial assistance is available to help Mom pay for long-term care? About 40% of long-term care is paid by private funds. Additional options include long-term care insurance, life insurance, and reverse mortgages.
Compare Care Options
Medicare’s “Nursing Home Compare” provides details on nursing homes across the country. This includes nursing home inspection results, staffing levels, enforcement actions that the federal government have taken against the nursing homes, and how well nursing home residents were treated in specific areas of care. You can start by researching facilities at https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html.
Finally, do your research. Ask questions. Visit several facilities. Because in the end, Mom deserves the best!
Timothy Coltrin, MD, MBA lived most of his life in sunny California. A few years ago, he moved to Utah and drove in the snow for the first time in his life. “Utah drivers are crazy,“ Dr. Coltrin asserts. He is the Associate Dean of Healthcare Administration for Stevens-Henager College’s West Haven (Ogden) campus. He teaches courses for several departments including Healthcare Administration, Nursing, Surgical Technology, Medical Assisting, and Business. He enjoys the collaboration between faculty and administration to help students achieve their goals. For fun, he likes playing the piano, going to the gym with his wife, and not driving in the snow.