Where to turn for help with Medicare questions and senior care issues

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This Saturday, October 8th, 2016, from 9a – 2p, Michele will be providing SHINE consultations at   Grace Lutheran Church’s Health Fair!

 


When faced with daunting life challenges, know there are resources available to help face those obstacles.

Locally, and throughout Florida, SHINE volunteers can help with all questions related to health insurance/Medicare and Area Agency on Aging can help with a great many other issues facing seniors.

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Storing Food Safely (3 of 3)

Most important now that we are in Hurricane Season …

Typical hardware transformerWhen You Lose Electricity

If you lose electricity, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Your refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it’s unopened. A full freezer will keep an adequate temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed.

Once Power is Restored . . .

You’ll need to determine the safety of your food. Here’s how:

  • If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe and may be re-frozen.
  • If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to re-freeze or cook.
  • Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was not out for more than four hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

Tips for Non-Refrigerated Items

  • Check canned goods for damage. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing or denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener. Stickiness on the outside of cans may indicate a leak. Newly purchased cans that appear to be leaking should be returned to the store for a refund or exchange. Otherwise, throw the cans away.
  • Don’t store food, such as potatoes and onions, under the sink. Leakage from the pipes can damage the food. Store potatoes and onions in a cool, dry place.
  • Keep food away from poisons. Don’t store non-perishable foods near household cleaning products and chemicals.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Update page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Home Care/Assisted Living Cross-over

Cost of LTCRecently updated figures (emphasis, sadly, on “up”) from the annual Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

While every situation is unique and based on its own set of circumstances, note the potential cross-over point around $3,000 per month, where Assisted Living starts to make sense economically.  Certainly an aspect to weigh, but equally important are other medical, emotional and social considerations.  Always consider the complete scope of needs when making this important decision.

Well-planned Transition to Emergency Assistance

Someone asked the other day, “How long does it usually take to help a family find the right community?”  We had just finished discussing a situation where Michele took a call on a Sunday afternoon and had arrangements made for a Monday transfer between communities.  That is a record that will stand for quite some time!  Certainly, this is a unique case and one that is far outside the “usual;” but, it does illustrate the value of working with someone, person to person, who has a detailed knowledge of the market and the connections to make something like that happen.

To get back to the question, placements can be broken down in three broad categories:

  • Emergencybell_curve_3d
  • Normal Discharge
  • Long-term plan in place

We will talk about each of these in future posts, but here is an overview of each:

Emergency placements usually occur if the senior does not have family members locally to help, or there is a drastic change in their situation (like an imminent discharge or their care level exceeds the ability of their current caregivers).  These have been done in under one week – without seriously compromising the level of service.

Normal discharges or transitions, generally, take place over a few weeks.  The family is working toward a scheduled discharge, lease termination or some known, future target date.  That time gives us the opportunity to better know the family’s needs and tour communities.

In the case of carrying out a long-term plan, the family’s health status and financial planning have laid the ground work for a well thought out transition.  We could be working with a family, off and on, over a period of months.

So, the “usual” means around three to four weeks, but the range is one day to nine months!

Helpful Vocabulary

Today’s Term … Assisted Living Community

In general, a state-licensed program offered at a residential community with services that include meals, laundry, housekeeping, medications reminders, and assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs).

The exact definition will vary from state to state, and a few states do not license assisted living facilities. They are generally regarded as one to two steps below skilled nursing in level of care. Florida does license and regulate its Assisted Living Communities.

Approximately 90 percent of the country’s assisted living services are paid for with private funds, although some sates have adopted Medicaid waiver programs. Might also be referred to as Personal Care, Board and Care, Residential Care, Boarding Home, etc., although some states differentiate between their definition of “Assisted Living” and these other terms.

Cost of Assisted Living

Few people plan for long-term care – that being continuous care over an extended period of time that involves help with everyday tasks or constant supervision for a person who has dementia.  Perhaps they don’t think they’ll need it or they believe that government subsidies will cover any care they need.

senior-community-outsideStudies indicate that 70% of persons over 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2008).  And it’s a common misconception that Medicaid and Medicare will pay for long-term care.  Beyond the limited benefits provided by Medicaid and/or Medicare (assuming you meet eligibility requirements for one or both) you are responsible for your long-term care costs.

Choices for suitable care under Medicaid funding can be limited.  Fortunately, senior living residences are available at a variety of price points.

Costs vary with the residence, apartment size, and types of services needed. The basic rate may cover all services or there may be additional charges for special services. Most assisted living residences charge on a month-to-month lease arrangement, but a few require long-term arrangements. The 2009 national average cost for an apartment in an assisted living residence is $3,100 per month, according to research compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Long-term Care Information.

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Base rates may fluctuate depending on unit size: for example, studio, one, or two-bedroom apartment. Note also that base rates typically only cover room and board and two to three meals. Additional charges may include entrance fees up to one month’s rent, deposits, and fees for other services such as transportation and personal laundry, though many providers include those services as well.

More than half of assisted living communities use a tiered pricing model with bundled services, according to research. For instance, a resident needing very little assistance would be at the lowest tier. Other pricing models include all-inclusive, a la carte, or fee-for-service basis. Providers regularly review service and care plans to ensure residents’ needs are being met. Billing is typically done monthly. More information is available at http://www.alfa.org.

To discuss senior living options in the Tampa Bay region with an experienced Always Best Care senior placement advisor please call (813) 422-1561 or (813) 422-0750.

Please share your thoughts on senior living costs, or any other thoughts on senior care. We welcome your comments below. 

Helping our Partners – Planning or Emergency, part II

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Much like with families, our referral partners can find themselves on either end of the urgency spectrum.

On the long-term/planning side, we can help estate and elder law attorneys, financial planners and forward thinkers with the information they need to help families well before a transition to senior housing is needed.  Whenever possible, it is best to have a plan and resources in place.

On the more immediate side, we can help social workers, discharge planners, and even other assisted living communities find the right community for their patient – and can do so on very short notice.  

Sometimes change renders a good plan ineffective or provides an immediate challenge.  It’s good to know there are resources out there that can help, no matter the scenario.