3 Tips to Prepare for Long Term Nursing Care

When we think about retirement we often think of enjoying more time with family and grandchildren, volunteering for community agencies dear to our hearts, spending more time traveling, and crossing things off our bucket list. When we think about retirement, we most likely aren’t thinking about moving to a nursing home. However, long term nursing care may be a reality in your future and it’s never too early to start the planning process.

Long term nursing care, also called health care, can be defined as medical or non-medical care provided in a facility setting for patients who need 24-hour, 7-day a week custodial assistance with basic daily activities such as dressing, mobility, bathing and toileting, etc. While the term “nursing home” is still often used, many in the industry call it a “skilled nursing facility” or “healthcare center.” The Pennsylvania Health Care Association indicates that approximately 70% of people currently turning 65 will need some form of long term care – many in a healthcare setting.

So, how prepared are you? Here are a few tips to help you navigate the process of long term nursing care.

Tip 1- Educate yourself on the admissions process/criteria and tour the facility!

Many people don’t think about long term nursing care until there is a crisis, and then are forced into making quick decisions with little or no information at all about a facility. It can be beneficial to start a conversation with the facility’s Admissions Team prior to actually needing care. Many healthcare centers will require you to complete an application and provide medical information/documents. Scheduling time with the Admissions Team will allow you time to ask questions and tour the community. Discuss what is included in the daily cost of care, additional ancillary charges not included in the daily cost of care, what insurances the facility contracts with, and what services they offer like transportation and hair care services. Be aware that some Continuing Care Retirement Community’s or Life Plan Communities may not accept individuals from outside their own campus community for long term nursing care. Also, availability varies between each community on a daily basis.

Tip 2- Financially prepare for the cost of long term nursing care!

Genworth’s 2018 ‘Cost of Care Survey’ indicated that the average cost for long term nursing care in Pennsylvania is between $10,000 – $12,000 per month. Medicare covers long term nursing care provided in a skilled healthcare facilities for certain, specific conditions for a very short period of time from 0 to 100 days. Residents requiring long term nursing care often use private assets, long term care insurance, and/or state-funded Medical Assistance programs to help cover the cost of care. Facilities may have financial criteria for admission and may require a spend-down of personal assets prior to applying for Medical Assistance benefits.

Tip 3- Include your family members/POA in your retirement plans & medical information!

By the time many people need care in a long term nursing setting, it may be difficult for them to physically access medical, financial, and/or insurance records. Your Power of Attorney or family members may need to assist you with decision making, accessing documents, signing paperwork or paying bills. Make sure your loved ones are informed and can gain access to your finances, insurance, advanced directives, and important health information. This will help facilitate a smooth transition to a nursing care setting and ensure your wishes are honored. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to establish your Advanced Directives or Power of Attorney documents.

Randi Martin, BASW
Admissions Coordinator
Tel Hai Retirement Community