Despite an exploding elderly population, the number of nursing homes has been consistently decreasing. In 1985, there were 19,100 nursing homes. In 2007, there were 15,281. This doesn't mean there are fewer beds for seniors. Rather, senior care facilities have diversified into a wide range of increasingly tailored care facilities. Respite care, hospice care, and retirement care are just a few of the new candidates for senior care.
In part, this individuation is a conscious attempt of various facilities to avoid the stigma of nursing homes as draconian, institutional care. Some facilities prefer the sterile and convoluted moniker of "continuing care retirement communities," than the label "nursing home." On the other hand, these new facilities do offer more intensive and more personalized care, especially if you're willing to pay for it. Yet, no matter what type of care you're looking for and no matter what type of financial resources you're able to muster, here are some of the things you should know about today's nursing home care.
Nursing Home Makeovers
It's probably not a coincidence that as the number of nursing homes decreases, so have the penalties assessed for violations of federal health and safety standards...and at a rate much faster than the decline of the facilities. This decline was attributed to improved quality of care by then-HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. Arguably, the worst examples of nursing homes had to close their doors altogether due to inferior standards and practices. Modern nursing homes (even those who retain the label) have a wide range of health and human resources. Self-actualization and empowerment are active philosophies widely adopted with buildings and amenities designed to enable this person-centered approach to senior care.
Dispelling Myths about Nursing Home Care
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Nursing Home Care: How to Plan for Costs
You already know that nursing home care is expensive, but just how expensive? Recent trends suggest the median annual cost of nursing home care has surpassed $80,000 with an estimated increase of 6% each year. Of course, a number of factors can influence this annual cost, especially where you live. Alaska, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have some of the highest nursing home costs. Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri have some of the lowest. To view a state-by-state breakdown of assisted living, home care, and nursing care costs, click here.
As difficult as the situation can be, you must consider cost when looking at different care facilities. Not everybody or every family can afford luxurious retirement villages with comprehensive health services. It's also important to realize that Medicare doesn't cover most of the expenses associated with long-term nursing home care. Impoverished individuals can receive assistance through Medicaid, but this is far from a guarantee of security and stability in your last years. You should discuss options with a financial retirement planner. After gathering all available financial resources you can set a budget for your nursing home care this year as part of your long-term plan.