Learning About Alzheimer’s Nursing Homes in 7 Steps

by Bethany
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In America, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease is growing at an alarming rate. Ten percent of Americans ages 65 and older are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, amounting to approximately 5.5 million people living with the disease. Because the population of people over 65 is growing in America, the number of new cases of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to increase.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory and behavior. It is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60-80% of cases. The disease is progressive, which means that the symptoms start off slowly and will gradually worsen over a period of years. Because of this, people living with the disease will eventually need help taking care of themselves. In the beginning stages of the disease, little to no assistance may be required, but by the end stages most require round-the-clock care. Sometimes family members will take on the task of caring for their loved ones, but others take the option of hiring a caregiver. This can be provided either in-home or in a facility. When cares become more than can be provided at home, many families choose a nursing home for their loved ones.

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What Is An Alzheimer’s Nursing Home?

Alzheimer nursing homes are a type of residential care, also known as skilled nursing or long-term facilities. They have staff and services to address a variety of issues including not only the medical aspect but nutrition, care planning, and recreation as well. An Alzheimer’s nursing home will also specialize in assisting residents with dementia. Alzheimer’s nursing homes have staff trained to deal with the behavioral of dementia residents. They also have specialized activities for residents. Nursing homes are state licensed and are regulated by the federal government. Living in a nursing home becomes necessary when more supervision and attention is required than can be provided at home.

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Who Needs To Go To One?

Families choose to put their loved ones in Alzheimer’s nursing homes for a variety of reasons. More often than not, living at home is no longer a safe option for them due to the behavioral needs of Alzheimer’s dementia and the declining ability to tend to themselves. Sometimes, their health may be at risk and they need a place that can provide medial attention. Often times, caring for them at home is simply more than a family member can provide.

Also, living in residential facilities provides more advantages than being at home does. Families have the comfort of knowing their loved one in a nursing home benefits from round-the-clock supervision, trained nursing staff, and recreational activities. They also have the advantages of consistent social interaction and the ability to wander freely. The move to a nursing home may be the choice of the family or it may be a doctor recommendation.

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How Much Do They Cost?

The price for Alzheimer’s nursing homes varies widely depending on the type of facility. According to the 2016 Genworth Cost Of Care Survey, the average pricing of a private room in a nursing home was $92,378 per year and the average pricing of a shared room was $82,132. The price will vary depending on the level of assistance needed, the size of the room, and whether or not the room is private. Geographical location also plays a part in determining the pricing. If choosing a dementia unit, the price will be on the higher end of the spectrum due to the need for larger staff-to-resident ratios and additional staff training.

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Does Insurance Cover The Cost?

Certain types of insurance cover the price of living in a nursing home, but most families pay out of pocket. The types of coverage that may cover the costs include Medicaid, Veterans benefits, and long-term care insurance. With long-term insurance, one should check the policy, as sometimes certain requirements need to be met before coverage will kick in. Medicare does not cover long-term nursing facilities, but will pay for some medical costs. Medicare covers inpatient hospital stays, some doctor’s fees, and medical items for people with Alzheimer’s.

With a doctor recommendation, they will also pay for hospice no matter where the person resides. Medicaid covers all or a portion of nursing home living, but be aware that not all nursing homes accept Medicaid. Other ways to pay for living in a nursing home include private, life or disability insurances, employee benefits, retirement benefits, government assistance, and community support services.

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Choosing The Right Nursing Home

Plan on visiting more than one nursing facility. Consider whether or not the nursing home participates in Medicaid or Medicare if this is something that you foresee the person utilizing. Make an appointment for a visit, but also visit unannounced. When visiting, ask to see the latest survey/inspection report, which the facility is required to provide. You can also visit the Medicare website to see how each nursing home compares to the national average.

Talk with both the staff and the residents, as well as their families and ask plenty of questions. Consider asking about the following factors, including staffing, family involvement, programs and services provided, environment, meals, and policies and procedures. Observe the level of comfort that the residents have. You should also consider the location of the nursing home to family and friends.

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Local Alzheimer’s Nursing Homes

There are many resources that can be utilized when looking for a local nursing home for a loved one. Using online search engines provides a vast array of different web pages for finding a local nursing home. State government web pages allow you to search for state nursing homes. Other credible webpages that can be used are the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and A Place For Mom. Another resource that should be utilized is asking neighbors, friends, and family, especially if they have a loved one in a nearby nursing home. You can also go on your own information if this is a locality that you have lived in for a time.

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Special Care Units

Also known as memory care, Alzheimer’s Special Care Units (SCU’s)are designed to meet the specialized needs of residents with dementia. They often exist as a unit where residents with dementia are clustered together on a floor within a larger facility. They may or may not be a secured unit, where residents are able to roam freely. The staff on these units often have received dementia training to deal with the behavioral issues that many residents with dementia have. They also can have specialized recreational activities for the residents. Many states have legislation that requires nursing homes to disclose the fees and list the services that their SCU’s provide.