Long Term Care Options
Although many of us would rather not think about needing long-term care, the federal government website http://longtermcare.gov/ notes that 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives. The vast majority of care is provided by unpaid family caregivers, most of them women. Those who can plan ahead are likely to get better results and place a far lighter burden on family members.
How does one learn about all of the options that may be available? Just the terminology can be confusing, from “active adult” communities to “continuing care retirement communities” to “assisted living.” In addition, there are many programs and services that may provide in-home assistance.
New Jersey has published a useful detailed guide at http://www.nj.gov/njhealthlink/ltc_guide.pdf. The state also has tried to simplify consumer access to the various agencies and programs that may be relevant through New Jersey EASE (which stands for Easy Access Single Entry). The State Information and Assistance Senior Helpline has a toll free number (877-222-3737). All seniors and their families are eligible.
Where else can you access objective information about local options? Medicare.gov has a website with a number of helpful tools for comparing nursing homes and home health care.
In researching nursing home care, the user inputs his or her zip code, which pulls up a list of facilities with overall ratings. The user then can select several facilities to compare in greater detail. http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html.
Similarly, there is a tool for locating agencies that provide home health care services. It includes patient survey results. http://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/.
There is an assisted living website sponsored by the industry. An organization called ALFA has on online directory that includes reviews. http://directory.alfa.org/.
An insurance company called Genworth publishes costs for various senior living arrangements. https://www.genworth.com/corporate/about-genworth/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html. The New Jersey “state median” statistics that they publish show the following annual costs:
- Homemaker services: $46,904
- Home health aide: $48,048
- Adult day health care: $20,800
- Assisted Living (private one bedroom): $71,928
- Nursing Home (semi-private): $109,318
- Nursing Home (private): $121,180
Many assisted living and continuing care facilities will accept residents whose resources may run out, and will convert them to Medicaid when that time comes. However, it is important to inquire closely as some facilities may appear to offer this option, but in fact have a very limited number of Medicaid “slots.” Most will require a year or two of private pay (sometimes referred to as “key money.”)