Funding your Skilled Nursing Facility Stay

We’ve spent all week celebrating skilled nursing care and paying tribute to our amazing staff, residents and families. The American Health Care Association, who established this special week back in 1967, says NSNCW provides an opportunity to recognize the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

And it’s an important role. Approximately 15 percent of the US population is over age 65, and a large portion of them will need skilled nursing care in the next five years. One of the first things seniors and their families ask when they find out they need skilled nursing care is, “How will I pay for this?” Nursing home care can cost a pretty penny; the average price in New Jersey hovers around $100,000 a year. So what’s a middle-to-lower class senior supposed to do when they need the specialized care only a skilled nursing facility can offer?

Financial experts recommend you start planning your long-term care in your 50s or earlier. This can include opening a savings plan to self-fund your care, taking out a long-term care insurance plan, or some combination of the two. But even if you or your parents haven’t planned for long-term care, you still have options.

Who Funds Long-Term Care?

Many people assume Medicare will cover their long-term care needs. In truth, Medicare only covers the first 100 days of nursing care, and then only when certain conditions are met. Think of Medicare as the option for short-term nursing care. If, for instance, your parent needs a few months of rehab after a nasty fall, Medicare will cover their inpatient rehab and skilled nursing care. The general expectation is that your parent will recover and be able to move back home after a short time.

In long-term situations, the patient must either pay privately or get onto Medicaid to cover their care. Medicaid is state-run health insurance for the needy. However, many middle-class seniors find that joining Medicaid is the best option for funding their nursing home stay. To qualify for Medicaid, you generally have to exhaust all your assets. There are many legal ways to lower your net worth to the point where you can be eligible for Medicaid. Some of those options include an income spend-down or creating a trust.

Here are some articles about Medicaid and the application process, written by Regency’s own Judah Gutwein, L.N.H.A.:

Let Me Educate you on Medicaid Eligibility, on

Medicaid Medically Needy Program, on

Applying for Medicaid, on

Medicaid Specialist vs Elder Law Attorney, on

Medicaid Personal Needs Allowance, on

And of course, feel free to contact us directly at Regency Nursing  if you have any questions about applying for Medicaid.

Happy National Skilled Nursing Care Week!

Starting with Mother’s Day, we’ve kicked off our celebration of National Skilled Nursing Care Week here at Regency Nursing. The week-long observance, established by the American Health Care Association, provides an opportunity to recognize the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

American Health Care Association NSNCW logo

This year, the theme for NSNCW is “Celebrating Life’s Stories.” According to AHCA’s announcement, the theme pays tribute to life’s most significant events, relationships and experiences that form the backdrop of each of our unique perspectives. Our residents, families, and staff are encouraged to share their stories with each other. Sharing these narratives will cultivate understanding, love, and acceptance in our community.

How to Celebrate #NSNCW

Do you have a parent, friend, grandparent, or other loved one in a skilled nursing facility? Visit them this week and acknowledge their care providers. Listen to your loved one’s stories, to the staff members, to the other residents. And share your own stories. Your memories and perspective are unique and will contribute to the wonderful sense of community at Regency Nursing.

We shared tips in a previous post about listening and recording your loved one’s stories. If you haven’t yet, try to record—or even just listen to—at least one story this week. Your elderly parent or grandparent won’t be around forever, so take advantage of this special week to hear more about them and their history.

If your loved one has dementia and can’t communicate, you can still have a meaningful visit. Read our post about maximizing your visit with a patient in advanced dementia here. Some of the advice we offered in that post included a suggestion to touch the patient a lot—with hugs, massage, or petting—and to take a stroll in the sunshine.

And don’t forget, make sure to laugh. When you share stories, you build a bond—and that bond is strengthened with laughter. Keep your stories and memories lighthearted and upbeat as you celebrate National Skilled Nursing Care Week.



Celebrate Life’s Stories

In two weeks, Regency Nursing will celebrate National Skilled Nursing Care Week. Beginning on Mother’s Day, May 13, Skilled Nursing Week will honor the unique stories of our residents, families, and staff.

You can take the opportunity to finally capture your parent or loved one’s life story. As an adult, you might think you know everything about your parents and their stories. Even if you do, it’s still a good idea to record their stories for their descendants. And if your loved one witnessed historical events, other people may also be interested in their account.

Here are some tips to record your elderly loved one’s life story for posterity:

Set the scene to encourage sharing.

Man holding a photoChoose a time when your subject is relaxed and comfortable. Settle them in a quiet location—their room, our beautiful gardens, or a calm corner of the lounge. Consider bringing old family photos or newspaper clippings to stimulate memories.

Another good way to set the mood is to find out what they enjoyed listening to when they were young, and find it online. One resource for old music is Play the music to get your loved one in a nostalgic mood, perfect for story sharing.

Make sure you have a good recorder, either on your phone or on a separate device. If they agree, try videotaping the session. Having video of your mom or dad will hold incomparable value after they’re gone.

Ask questions to start the flow.

Prepare a list of starter questions to get your parent talking. But don’t stick too closely to your questions. The answers you get might take you to topics you didn’t originally think of, and you’ll discover things you never knew about your parents’ lives. At all times, follow your parent’s cues. If a particular memory seems painful, gently change the subject.

Check out for some question ideas, such as “what is your earliest memory”; “what are you proudest of”; and “is there anything you’ve never told me, but want to tell me now.”

Another way to help your loved one open up is to ask them about historical events that happened when they were younger. Ask them about World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. They may want to share their memories of the Kennedy assassination or the moon landing. These memories also have the advantage of being educational, and you may want to share them with your local library or historical society.

Be a good listener.

Your senior lady smiling and conversingjob is to listen to your loved one’s stories, with some redirecting if necessary. You may hear a story you’ve heard before, but don’t cut them off when they start repeating an old story. First of all, this time you’re getting it on tape. Secondly, they might add new details or share a different perspective this time.

You may hear unpleasant memories, or opinions you don’t agree with. Don’t judge your loved one for her memories; it’s not about you. Keep in mind that the story you’re hearing may not be completely accurate. After many years, certain events get exaggerated and details forgotten. If the story sounds fantastical, it may not have happened that way… or maybe it did! Life can definitely be strange sometimes.

A word of caution.

Unfortunately, some seniors have had dysfunctional, abusive, or otherwise awful childhoods. Similarly, many war veterans still carry the trauma of war, and may not want to talk about it. If you know your loved one has many bad memories in their past, you may want to skip this particular activity. If you feel it’s important to record their story, proceed with caution and sensitivity. Consider consulting with the resident’s doctor or social worker on whether it’s a good idea to bring up these sad or hurtful memories.