Comparing Types of Memory Care Facilities
Knowing the Options When Evaluating a Memory Care Facility

Comparing Types of Memory Care Facilities

If your aging loved one needs specialized care because of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you might be searching for the right memory care facility. There are several types of care options. Some assisted living developments have onsite memory care units. A dedicated facility only accepts residents with a need for specialized care. The highest level of memory care is an Alzheimer’s care unit, usually with 24-hour supervised care.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by these options. If you are trying to find the best placement for your loved one, you might benefit from some help comparing types of memory care facilities.

Specialized Memory Care

A facility that focuses on memory issues might use one or more of these terms:

  • Memory Care Unit
  • Alzheimer’s Care Community
  • Specialized Care Units (SPU)
  • Dementia Care Community

There is no federal regulation of assisted living facilities. No category of assisted living is growing faster than memory care. Because assisted living and memory care are lucrative businesses, some unscrupulous companies might claim to provide better care than they actually do. Always check with your doctor and local social service agencies about these types of centers.

Visit several facilities, so you can compare the physical layouts, cleanliness, activities and interaction of the staff members with the residents. A memory care facility should have a mindful design that keeps the seniors safe but does not make them feel as if they are in a prison. High-quality design features can help to prevent injuries from falls, reduce anxiety, increase social interaction and allow residents the opportunity to walk around safely.

An assisted living center might claim to provide memory care, but genuine memory care includes round-the-clock supervision by well-trained professionals in a more restrictive environment than a typical assisted living facility. For example, people with dementia tend to wander off and leave the center, often in the middle of the night. People have met with tragic ends to their lives from exposure to the elements, drowning and foul play in these situations.

The Cost of Alzheimer’s Care

There are several different levels of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease, depending on the stage and severity of the illness. A person can receive Alzheimer’s care at a variety of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Here is a comparison of the cost of the different types of CCRCs that offer memory care:

  • Home care: $16 to $28 an hour
  • Independent living center: $1,500 to $6,000 a month
  • Assisted living facility: an average of $4,000 a month
  • Residential care: $3,500 to $4,500 a month
  • Skilled nursing care: an average of $7,441 a month for a semi-private room and $8,365 a month for a private room
  • Hospice care: $41 an hour or $193 a day

These average prices can be quite different from the cost where you live. Always get a written list of all the fees the facilities charge. Make sure you know what the basic monthly cost includes and what will generate an extra expense.

Use this checklist when visiting assisted living facilities.

References:

A Place for Mom. “What is Alzheimer’s Memory Care?” (accessed November 21, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/alzheimers-care

How to Manage the Cost of Long-Term Care
Long-Term Care Planning with Elder Law Attorneys

How to Manage the Cost of Long-Term Care

A single woman has seen her annual premiums for long-term care rise by more than 60% over the last six years. Her cost in 2018 was $2,721, up from $1,626 in 2013. She’s keeping her policy, reports CNBC in the article “Long-term care insurance costs are way up. How advisors can help clients cope”

For her, the price she is paying is worth the cost. However, these types of increases can take older individuals off guard, especially if they are living on a fixed income.

Last year, Genworth Financial received 120 approvals by state regulators to increase premiums on their long-term care insurance business. The weighted average rate increase was 45%. General Electric said earlier this year that it expects to raise premiums on its LTC policies by $1.7 billion in the next ten years. Insurers hold between $160 to $180 billion in LTC reserves, covering 6 to 7 million people, according to estimates from Fitch Ratings.

Long-term care has also become increasingly expensive. The annual national median cost of a private room in a nursing home was $100,375 in 2018, according to Genworth Financial. The annual national median cost of a home health care aide was $50,336 in 2018.

Insurers entering the business in the 1990s and early 2000s didn’t anticipate that so many policyholders would continue to pay their premiums and eventually file claims. Fewer than 1% of policyholders have let their policies lapse, and this caught many companies off guard.

Low interest rates have also hurt overall profitability for the long-term care insurance companies.

About 40% of the bonds held in insurance companies’ general accounts had a maturity of more than 20 years at purchase, said the American Council of Life Insurers.

There are a few ways to tweak benefits to keep premiums more affordable, while continuing to have this essential coverage.

Daily Benefit. Policies sold in 2015 had an average daily benefit of $259. Paring down the daily benefit could keep premiums down.

Benefit Period. Long-term care insurance contracts sold in the 1990s and early 2000 could pay out for the remainder of a client’s life. Reducing that period to five or ten years could make premiums lower.

Inflation Protection. Inflation riders help stay ahead of the rising cost of care. For older policyholders, this might reduce the inflation protection.

Waiting Period. Most policies have a waiting period before benefits will be received. Adjusting this period of time might reduce benefits.

Policyholders are advised to speak with the insurance company directly, instead of relying on the premium increase notices. This may reveal more options that can be used to reduce the premiums, without sacrificing too much in the way of coverage.

Elder law attorneys can help with long-term care planning.

Reference: CNBC (September 8, 2019) “Long-term care insurance costs are way up. How advisors can help clients cope”

How Does Elder Law Protect Seniors from Exploitative Guardians?
Elder Law Attorneys Help Keep Guardians in Check

How Does Elder Law Protect Seniors from Exploitative Guardians?

Orlando Sentinel’s recent article, “DeSantis, Florida lawmakers consider changes in troubled guardianship program,” reports that legislative leaders and officials of Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration met with judges, guardianship trade groups, state attorneys and people from the Elder Law section of the Florida Bar to talk about ways to protect seniors from exploitative or neglectful guardians.

“More must be done to enhance the structure of accountability for guardians to monitor compliance with established standards of practice and ensure that guardians are acting in the best interests of their wards,” Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom said. “The matter is complex, and the solution extends beyond the Department of Elder Affairs; families, local communities, and public officials must also work together to prevent all forms of exploitation to provide safety and security for all.” Elder law attorneys can be very helpful.

The recent news concerning guardian Rebecca Fierle, who investigators say was responsible for more than 400 wards and regularly signed “Do Not Resuscitate” orders for clients against their wishes, has rekindled interest among lawmakers for more control over Florida’s 550 registered guardians.

Senator Kathleen Passidomo and Representative Colleen Burton participated in the meeting and said some of the ideas being discussed include limiting the number of cases each guardian has and requiring a judge to approve a DNR order. Other ideas include increased standards for guardians and more thorough monitoring.

The lawmakers say there’s no need to increase the requirements to become a guardian. All that is required now is a 40-hour course and passing an exam. Passidomo said the issue isn’t a lack of competence, but the risk for abuse.

As a result, standards and monitoring of guardians must be increased. However, these ideas are merely being discussed, as lawmakers have yet to present a concrete plan.

Governor DeSantis will publish a budget request for the Department of Elder Affairs, which includes the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, which could include more funds for investigators to review complaints. The OPPG has only four employees. Prudom has taken control of the department since July, when he asked Carol Berkowitz, the agency’s executive director, to resign because of the Fierle case.

Learn how an elder law attorney can help with guardianships.

Reference: Orlando Sentinel (September 16, 2019) “DeSantis, Florida lawmakers consider changes in troubled guardianship program”