Dogs, Cats, and Mom

We’ve heard the stories of therapy dogs working wonders at hospitals. Besides being a cute diversion, studies show they offer tangible health benefits – see one random article discussing health benefits here.

There are pet friendly homes already but not everyone is able to take care of their own animal so someone finally had the smart idea to start bringing therapy pets to assisted living residences (see this article from Tonawanda news).

I think the next logical step is to incorporate shared animals into the homes themselves with dedicated space for them to be continuously available to residents.  What do you think – would that be a nice amenity or is it taking a good fad a little too far?


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Money Matters

When it comes time to make your “Living Assisted,” your first task will be understanding the care options available to you and making a list of residences that you want to check.  But soon after, you should ask the money questions –  how much does this cost and how do I pay for it?!

There are many sources of funding that you should consider from traditional (health insurance, retirement accounts, government programs, selling assets, etc.) to exotic (guaranteed income insurance, reverse mortgages, etc.).  I’ve linked to an article in the Nevada Appeal that discusses some of these options here.

There is no one size fits all answer – each person will consider different options based on their financial situation, their living assisted goals, and preferences such as risk tolerance.  The important thing is getting out ahead of this as much as possible (if you are placing a loved one, I’d even recommend planning for yourself at the same time!).  Like most financial decisions, it helps to have someone to guide your through the maze.  Please reach out to us (you can use the form below) if you would like to discuss your specific situation.

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Top Chef – Senior Edition

Sunrise Senior Living setup a cooking challenge for the chefs in its various facilities to see who could “develop healthy, creative and delicious recipes that incorporated Sunrise’s high standards of proper nutrition for seniors.”  The winning submission came from Bob Brown of Norwood, MA who created the recipe for “Cod in Tarragon Tomato Broth, a low-calorie source of protein and a dish high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.”

I’m more of a meat and potatoes man myself but it’s nice to see innovative programs designed to improve both the residents’ and employees’ experience.


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An Alarming Trend in Retiree Health Benefits

First IBM.  Now Time Warner.  In what is likely to be an accelerating trend, each of these companies in the last week has publicly announced a plan to stop paying directly for retiree health benefits.  Rather than paying for these benefits, retirees will now be given a flat dollar amount per year to buy insurance off of one of several privately run healthcare exchanges.

These exchanges are similar to the newly created state-based healthcare insurance exchanges that states are busy setting up in advance of the October 1, 2013 deadline to enact the Affordable Care Act.  In spite of years of planning, most of the exchanges are not ready to begin enrolling new members, with some resorting to a toll-free phone number for members to call and “order” healthcare coverage.

This is part of a larger trend whereby the burden of making healthcare decisions is falling to the average consumer; but unlike buying a big screen tv or even a car, there is a lack of pricing transparency and even a way to compare the different options.  Searching for the right long-term-care option is no different.  That is why we are here to serve as your personal healthcare ambassador, shedding some light on how the assisted living space operates, and providing a customized search that best matches the needs of your loved ones.  Email us today for a free 30 minute consultation, or simply fill out the form below.

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People Matter!

An article on Senior Housing News’ website discusses a survey conducted by the Assisted Living Federation of America this month and found a 95% quality of life satisfaction rating among seniors in assisted living communities.  Also, according to the article, workers are the most important part of the community to the residents. That’s great news because staff scored well in the ALFA survey on perceived competence and empathy.  In our technological age, it is good to know we haven’t lost the human touch!

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Senior Housing, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing explained

With all these different terms out there, it can be hard to figure out exactly what you might be looking for.  We wanted to lay out the three classifications of services, and what distinguishes each.  Like drink combinations at your local Starbucks, there are numerous combinations which can blur the lines among these three options.

Senior Housing

Broadly speaking, senior housing provides basic rental housing and can include meals, social activities, transportation, and some basic medical services to seniors.  This can also refer to Independent Living, or IL.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living Facilities, or ALF’s as they are commonly known, typically provide the same elements as Senior Housing, but include more comprehensive medical services.  These facilities can also include services or building units that provide “memory care” or “Alzheimer’s care” with dedicated nursing staff.  Like Senior Housing, much of Assisted Living is funded through private pay or long term care insurance.

Skilled Nursing

Skilled Nursing is traditionally known as nursing homes.  These facilities offer the most comprehensive medical services for seniors; however, given the medical needs of the residents, the services offered tend to be focused exclusively on Activities of Daily Living, or ADL.  Given the medical complexity, these services also tend to be primarily reimbursed via Medicare which can sometimes affect the quality of the interaction of the residents and the caregivers.

Coming soon, we will write about how to think about which site setting is the most appropriate for your loved one.  There is often no one right answer, and it is common for a resident to transition from one, to the next, to the next as medical needs increase.


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The Spotlight Works!

There is a great example coming from central Illinois that oversight can be effective.  The Maple Ridge Care Center in Lincoln was highlighted in newpaper articles for deficient care; they responded by changing ownership, changing names, and changing their attitude! There may be a few more kinks to work out but it looks like the facility is on its way to being a place where mom (or sister for acute care) will be well looked after.

You can read the latest State Journal-Register article here and an earlier Lincoln Courier article that catches the improvements midstream here.

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