What are my long-term care options?
By Barbara Pierce
As we age, most of us want is to stay in our own home as long as possible, with assistance from family or a caregiver.
Aging in our home has many benefits, but there are disadvantages as well. Like falls, the most common serious injury that older persons suffer, or struggling to keep up with the maintenance needs of a home, transportation issues, the need for increased care, and social isolation.
We can’t know what life will throw at us. But we can make “what if” plans. We have a variety of solutions but it can be confusing.
There are four main types of senior care: an independent living community, assisted living, skilled nursing care, or memory care. Each of these levels of care features a different cost, as well as a different amount of hands-on care.
Once you’ve made the decision to leave your home, the next decision involves the area where you wish to live. It’s wise to visit the areas you’re considering.
A new report suggests you may want to leave New York for greener pastures. The state’s high cost of living and astronomical taxes led to its ranking as the worst state to retire in.
Independent living communities (aka retirement communities or senior housing) are the best fit for self-sufficient people in fair health who wish to minimize their daily responsibilities, socialize, and lead active lives.
They do not provide assistance with activities of daily living or medical care. For this reason, they are not covered by insurance like Medicare or Medicaid. The cost can vary widely.
Lutheran Care, an affiliate of Community Wellness Partners, operates Preswick Glen in New Hartford. It offers private cottages or apartments and chef-prepared meals daily, while residents are active with social events, classes and activities.
Community Wellness Partners and its affiliates provide a continuing care retirement community, which offers the full spectrum of care a senior would potentially need, from supporting people in their own homes, to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, or memory impaired residences, explained Lenora D’Apice, vice president of development.
“We’re the largest CCRC in Oneida County. We accept Medicare and Medicaid when they cover the services you need,” she said. “We’ll help you apply.”
The Masonic Care Community is also a CCRC. Acacia Village in Utica, its independent living community, offers several living options, with a full range of activities.
“This is an ideal setting for an active adult who wants to be free from home maintenance and is not in need of assisted living. One affordable monthly fee replaces the costs of home ownership and includes all the wonderful amenities,” said director of marketing Mara Roberts.
Enjoying ‘golden years’
Fifteen years ago, in their early 70s, Sarah and Richard Dick moved from their home in Detroit to an independent living community in Florida. They’ve been very happy with their decision.
“Aging is less of a burden when living in a retirement home,” she said. “We need more help when our days are numbered. It’s best to move when you’re young enough to adjust to a major move. It might also be a gift for your children. Visit as many retirement communities as possible before making your choice.”
— Assisted living: An assisted living facility provides room and board, therapy and nursing services, medication management, and supervision. They are generally less expensive and less medically intensive than a nursing home. Most are not licensed to accept Medicaid.
The assisted living beds at Mohawk Homestead, in Mohawk, are specially licensed to accept Medicaid residents. “We provide a range of services, including personal care, room, board, housekeeping, supervision, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical supplies and equipment. And we have a variety of activities going on every day,” said administrator Joseph Franco.
“Wiley Hall (Masonic Care’s assisted living facility) is ideal for seniors who have moderate health care needs,” explained Roberts. “Residents enjoy daily meals and personal care services, while maintaining a level of independence recommended by their doctors. It provides the perfect mix of services and activities to address an individual’s needs.
“As it relates to Medicaid eligibility, since everyone’s financial situations are different, we recommend that people contact us so that our admissions team can discuss each individual’s situation and possible Medicaid eligibility,” she said.
— Nursing homes provide around-the-clock care for people with serious health conditions. Nursing homes do qualify for Medicaid, which kicks in after other assets are depleted.
At Alpine Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Little Falls, it has a registered nurse in house 24/7 and a physician on call 24/7 with both in the building most days, explained assistant administrator Casey Bayes.
“We have physical, occupational and speech therapy six or seven days a week,” she said. “About half our residents are short-term rehabilitation residents. Their goal is to return home, typically after a hip or other joint replacement, fall, pneumonia, stroke, or heart attack.”
The facility provides help with Medicaid applications.