Nursing Homes

Getting Informed About Nursing Homes

I've recently had a number of family and friends face the ordeal of finding a nursing home for their loved one. In some cases, the family member had experienced a fall or a stroke. In other cases, a minor surgery had complications that took more time to heal than was expected, and providing care for them at home wasn't a good option. And in still other cases, the level of care and supervision required due to dementia or other health conditions had caused the family to recognize that it was simply in the best interest of their loved one to have that level of care.

As our population continues to age and our improving medical technology further lengthens our lives, these kinds of decisions will eventually be made by most of us. I wanted to make you aware of two resources that may be very helpful to you when that time arrives for you and your loved ones.

The first is the U.S. Government's Medicare online "Nursing Home Compare" guide. The following paragraph comes from the website's own description of its purpose:

Nursing Home Compare allows consumers to compare information about nursing homes. It contains quality of care information on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country, including over 17,000 nationwide.

Important Medicare Information and How to Find It

On Monday, I participated in a training on the Social Security and Medicare programs hosted by the Mountainland Aging and Family Services department in Utah County. It is important for me in my profession to keep abreast of the rapid changes taking place with regard to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs that provide such important benefits to the aging population.

On an almost daily basis I run across misinformed statements about these programs and have to help my clients understand what the law really says they are entitled to. However, I have also learned that there are significant efforts being made by both the federal government, and local governments, to provide accurate information about these programs. I wanted to make you aware of at least two of these excellent resources for getting your questions answered on what can, at times, seem to be overwhelmingly complex topics.

The Dark Side of Longevity

Historical census data has shown that in the U.S. in 1900, 100,000 people were age 85 and over. In the year 2000, this age group numbered 4,239,587. In 2020, the number will be 6.5 million, and in 2050, it will have grown to 17,970,000!

Clearly, people are living longer today, in greater numbers, than they ever have (disregarding Methuselah of course!) throughout recorded history. Our medical care providers have succeeded in keeping us alive for much longer than they have in the past. As wonderful as this medical technology is, it has not come without costs. With that longevity comes a host of other problems.

Federal Budget Cuts and the Impact on Seniors

The federal government is working frantically to decrease spending in 2011 by making sweeping cuts to numerous federally funded programs, in order to avoid a government shutdown. Unfortunately, many of the changes proposed will negatively impact seniors. The cuts began in House Resolution 1 (HR 1), passed by the House last month as a long term continuing resolution to cut fiscal spending this year and keep the federal government from shutting down. But 2011 spending cuts are only the beginning. Next, focus will turn to the 2012 budget where a new round of cuts will likely take place, with potential far-reaching negative impacts on seniors.

Immediate Cuts on the Horizon

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the proposed spending cuts in HR 1 would harm senior citizens by severely cutting initiatives that help older Americans sustain their economic independence and health. HR 1 includes:

• Cuts of approximately $525 million in services specifically for low-income seniors (including a
  64% cut to the Senior Community Service Employment Program);
• Cuts of approximately $1 billion in funding for Community Health Centers that serve seniors;
• Cuts of $390 million for home energy assistance;
• Cuts of $305 million for Community Services Block Grants that currently assist 2.3 million   seniors;
• Cuts of $1 billion to programs that include senior volunteers; and
• Cuts of $625 million to the Social Security Administration (estimated to be over $1 billion by
   the Social Security Administration as noted below).

Is Your Loved One Over-medicated?

A recent article in the New York Times entitled "Doctors Say Medication is Overused in Dementia" highlights what I believe should be a real for concern to those of us with loved ones in long-term care facilities.

Salt Lake Tribune Nursing Home Report

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article this week detailing an investigation on how well Utah nursing homes are caring for their residents.  The investigation found that, overall, Utah nursing homes are providing very good care for Utah's seniors with a few exceptions.  The report also found that ownership tended to be the best indicator of the quality of care provide

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