Memory Care Facility Opens in Austin

A new memory care assisted living facility opened in Austin, Texas this month.

Facility Accommodates Growing Population

The epidemic of Alzheimer’s sweeping the nation isn’t going to get better anytime soon. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates Alzheimer’s and other cases of dementia will triple by 2050, affecting more than 15 million Americans.

This explosion in cases has led to a problem: there aren’t enough facilities equipped to deal with dementia patients. Many dementia patients end up living in regular nursing homes. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to isolation of the patients. If the staff is busy taking care of multiple patients at a time, patients with dementia can easily be alone for most of the day. This lack of social interaction is problematic as it is a risk factor for dementia. This means if a patient already has dementia and is not engaging in social activities, the risk of the disease worsening increases.

Focus on Dementia

The Silverado Senior Living-Onion Creek opened in early May and is now the company’s 8th facility in Texas that focuses on dementia patients. The community strives to provide care that is specific to each individual and focus on the strengths that the patients possess rather than their deficiencies. CEO Loren Shook explained how Silverado Senior Living Communities has “created a culture that is really supportive of everyone we touch,” he said.

The center has features that are quite different from regular nursing homes including 24 hour visiting hours, pet therapy, and drug reduction efforts. The center wants to decrease the high number of drugs that most residents are on to improve patient health and cut costs. Shook told Impact News that “in a typical long-term care situation, a resident may be on 10 to 12 prescriptions on average,” but Silverado Senior Living centers “have an average of 5.7 prescriptions throughout the company”.

Dementia and Long Term Care in Texas

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are the leading reasons for needing long term care services. Many assisted living facilities have set up separate memory care wings. Texas has two of the top five markets for memory care units under construction, according to Chris McGraw, a senior research analyst at NIC who tracks the construction of different industry facilities in top metro areas.

The median annual cost for an assisted living facility in Texas is just around $40,000 according to Genworth Financial, a leading provider of Long Term Care Insurance. Most people cannot afford to pay these costs out of pocket, especially given the average benefit period of long term care is 3 years.

Long Term Care Insurance provides a reliable way to protect your assets from being exhausted by health and long term care costs. LTCI helps cover the cost of long term care, ensuring you receive the quality care you deserve. Read more about how Alzheimer’s affects Texans here.

Top Three Reasons People Don’t Plan for Long Term Care in Retirement

Planning for retirement is something every one thinks about. Choosing a retirement destination, managing retirement accounts, and ensuring there will be adequate income during those years are common actions for people in their 40s and 50s who are looking further down the road towards their future. Planning for long term care, though, is often left out of the equation.

Long Term Care Myths

Somehow, many people plan their retirement quite meticulously, but forget to factor in one of the biggest costs that can hit during retirement: long term health care. There are several different reasons this occurs, and much of it relies on three large myths that exist. People tend to think that someone else will take care of long term care for them, so they don’t bother to do it themselves. Read three of the top reasons people put off planning for long term care below.

1)    If I need long term care, I can depend on a family member or friend to provide it.

This is a nice thought, but it’s a premise based on fantasy. Unless you have explicitly discussed this potential situation with a family member or friend already and they have agreed to provide care for you later in life, don’t count on this. Families spread out all over the country and are often states or countries away, which means they are unable to provide care if and when you may need it. Some family members may be able to provide some care, but just because it doesn’t cost any money doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything. Family caregiving is an exhausting, emotionally stressful job that places the caregiver under a lot of stress and responsibility and often leads to guilt on the part of the individual receiving care. Again, unless you have discussed specifics with someone about this type of arrangement, don’t count on someone else to provide you care.

2)    If I need long term care, Medicare will foot the bill.

Another nice thought, but it doesn’t quite turn out as most people expect. A survey conducted last year found that more than 1/3 of adult Americans believe Medicare covers the cost of long term care. In reality, Medicare will only pay for your care if you have a qualifying 3-day hospital inpatient stay. Even then, they will only pay for care for a short period of time, anywhere between 20 to 100 days, depending on your insurance. If you need care for longer than 100 days, you are back at square one, on your own. Neither the federal or state governments have programs set up to address the cost of long term care, so don’t count that as your plan, because it really isn’t a plan at all.

3)    If I need long term care, I can self-insure and cover the cost myself. 

While this might ring true for a few select people, for the majority of Americans, this assumption is dead wrong. Long term care is expensive and the latest Genworth Cost of Care Survey shows just how expensive. One year of care in a nursing home costs an average of more than $87,000. If you live in the Northeast or the West, count on your bill to be much higher than that, possibly even double. The fact is, most people don’t even have enough assets saved to get them through retirement without long term care. If long term care were to enter the situation, their assets would be wiped out. It’s impossible to predict if you will need care and how long you will need it for, so relying on your hard earned assets to cover that cost is a huge gamble. Unless you have several million dollars saved for retirement, self-insuring is not a wise idea.

Make Your Own Plan

Relying on any of these beliefs when it comes to planning for long term care can be dangerous. Unfortunately, most Americans are doing just that. Whether it’s because they think they can’t afford a Long Term Care Insurance policy or they simply aren’t aware of the need for one, few people are truly prepared for the cost of long term care.

Long Term Care Insurance policies can still be quite affordable, especially when you compare it to the actual cost of care. This type of insurance provides tremendous benefits to policyholders; in fact, the industry pays out more than $11 billion in benefits every year. If you are looking for a solid way to shield your assets from the cost of long term care, consider buying a Long Term Care Insurance policy. For a free quote, fill out this form and we will be in touch shortly.

Finding the Best Nursing Homes in Texas

Long term care often brings about many difficult decisions that families must make. Along with the already stressful emotional aspects of dealing with a loved one who needs care, finding a good facility is at the top of the list of things families struggle with when faced with this kind of situation.

Fortunately, US News & World Report has compiled a resource to help families searching for information on nursing homes in their state.

Nursing Home Rankings

Best Nursing Homes 2014 was published recently to help make the search for a nursing home across the United States easier. The resource includes statewide rankings of the best nursing homes and even includes rankings for nearly 100 metropolitan areas.

Rather than have to search through dozens of websites to find information on nursing homes, this list provides a simple way to sift through all the facility options. It can help you avoid countless visits that may otherwise be a waste of your time by providing you with crucial information to make your decision easier.

Searching in Texas

The rankings for nursing homes in Texas can be separately searched in a number of ways. You can search by entering your zip code or the desired zip code of a nursing home to find the best facilities in that specific area. The list also has rankings for major metropolitan areas in Texas including Austin, Dallas-Forth Worth, El Paso, Houston, McAllen, and San Antonio.

In addition to the metropolitan areas, you can search by geographical region if you are more flexible and willing to look in a larger area of the state. The regions included in the Texas list are Big Bend Country, Gulf Coast, Hill Country, Panhandle Plains, Piney Woods, Praries and Lakes, and South Texas Plains.

Detailed Ratings

Included in the rankings are separate ratings for health inspections, nurse staffing, and quality measures, that together make up the overall ranking. You can also find out whether or not the facility accepts Medicare, Medicaid, or both, how many beds are in the entire facility, and whether or not it is a continuing care retirement community.

A continuing care retirement community is one that allows residents to transition from assisted living to a nursing home setting to hospice care, without having to move from place to place. Planning for long term care can be stressful, but financially preparing by purchasing long term care insurance and using this new list can help make the process much easier. Read more about planning for long term care or visit the Best Nursing Homes 2014 rankings.

Biological Clock Can Tell Your Body’s Age and Possibly Predict Timing of Disease

The ability to predict disease may sound unreal, but researchers believe they may have found a tool that can help them predict when in someone’s life disease is most likely to occur. This new biological clock was developed by scientists as UCLA looking to get a better idea of how our body ages and what that age indicates for the future.

Measuring Age with DNA 

Steve Horvath, the lead author of the study and bioinformatician at UCLA, worked with other researchers to develop a way to use DNA to determine the age of tissue within the body.

After scouring more than 8,000 DNA samples from 51 different tissues and cells, they came up with a way to measure DNA methylation, which is the process by which genes are controlled and changed by the body to serve a new purpose.

The researchers discovered how to use DNA methylation, or DNAm, to determine the age of tissue within the body. They found that despite the fact that different parts of our body are all the same age in years, some parts age much more rapidly than others.

Looking at Tissue

Breast tissue in women, for example, typically tests two to three years older than the woman’s chronological age. Researches suggested this might be the reason that breast cancer is the cancer that most commonly afflicts women.

In the same regard, embryonic stem cells have an age of essentially zero when measured. UCLA has applied for a provisional patent for the DNAm biological clock.

By using this technology and comparing the age of certain tissues to the individuals’ chronological age, scientists may one day be able to determine which organs are aging at a rapid rate and are therefore more likely to experience disease.

Biological Clock

According to the study, our bodies age at different rates throughout our life.

“The clock’s ticking rate isn’t constant,” Horvath said. “It ticks much faster when we’re born and growing from children into teenagers, then slows to a constant rate when we reach 20.”

Horvath and the other researchers involved in the study, which was published in the journal Genome Biologyare looking to see whether or not this knowledge of tissue age can determine the effect that supposed anti-aging medications and solutions are actually doing their job. For now, though, they are still working through the mechanisms of measuring tissue age and determining how it impacts our body’s health.

Local Senior Care Organizations Receive Grants from St. David’s

St. David’s Foundation’s semi-annual gift will be distributed among more than 30 non-profit organizations across Texas, including many in the senior care industry.

Keeping People Active

Half of the profits from St. David’s hospital are given to the foundation, which then in turn uses the money to assist non-profit establishments in the form of grants. CEO Earl Maxwell explained how important it is to the Foundation to keep the grants local in order to best continue helping the elderly in their state.

“We are an aging population. We have 85 million baby boomers that are turning 65 year after year after year, and as we age that has a great impact on our health care and our health care system. The longer we can keep people active the more likely they are to remain healthy,” Maxwell said.

Non-Profits Awarded Grants

Meals on Wheels is one of the organizations set to receive a grant in the form of $90,000 for two new vehicles. Meals on Wheels delivers meals to the homes of elderly and disabled individuals who are unable to buy or prepare their own meals. The non-profit helps combat hunger by providing food to people who might otherwise go hungry or live in total isolation.

Family Eldercare is another recipient of a St. David’s grant. The organization is slated to receive $250,000 to go towards in-home care and therapeutic counseling. Family Eldercare helps provide Texas seniors with resources to remain in their community and receive various kinds of support, including long term caregivers.

Central Austin’s Caregiver University will also receive $250,000 for facility upgrades. St. David’s Foundation has another gift planned for June, when the amount will be even higher, according to officials.

Long Term Care at Home

Keeping seniors in their homes to receive care and assistance significantly helps reduce costs and ease loneliness and depression. Nursing home patients have been shown to have the highest rates of depression, while those who remain in their community have a lower incidence of depression and isolation. These organizations all help Texas seniors receive care without being forced into facility care, a fate that many seniors dread.

Read more about St. David’s Foundation or find out what changes and programs can help seniors remain in their homes and among their loved ones, reducing the need for facility long term care and improving the quality of lives of seniors across Texas.

Betting on Your House for Retirement? Bet Again

I’ve noticed talk lately about the different ways people plan to use their assets to fund their retirement. Some of the ideas are great and some are a stretch.

One of these ideas that seems to be pushing the limits of realistic possibilities is that of using your housing assets as your main retirement plan.

Using Your House as a Financial Plan

Betting on the value of your house for your retirement income might sound tempting, but it’s probably not the soundest solution to your financial worries. Granted, the value of your house may have increased over time, so you think selling it in several years and downsizing is a great opportunity to cash in a lot of extra money. There are other aspects of that situation to consider, though, as mentioned in a recent commentary piece.

Besides the fact that home value fluctuates often and it is not a sure bet in any way, shape, or form, it’s also crucial to remember that if the value of your house has gone up, it’s likely that other costs have risen, too.

Even if the asset value of your home has doubled since you moved in, chances are so have the cost of living and the cost of health care. Is that really a risk you are willing to take?

Big Costs in Retirement

In Texas, one year in a nursing home will cost you an average of $61,320. That number might seem like a feasible amount to cover, but that’s certainly not the only external cost you will be facing. Fidelity estimates that the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2013 will need $220,000 just to cover health care costs that aren’t included in Medicare benefits.

Dental health, eye exams, over the counter medication, and of course, long term care, are much more expensive than most people plan for, and assuming your home asset will cover the costs is a big risk.

If costs are higher than you expected, you end up needing long term care, and your house can’t cover it all, chances are you will have to turn to an unpaid family caregiver or spend down your assets to qualify for Medicaid. Are you really willing to take that gamble?

A Different Solution

Instead of betting your retirement on your house, look for more tangible, reliable options like Long Term Care Insurance. The amount that policyholders pay into their plans is typically quite minimal to the actual cost of care, which is only projected to increase.

Investing in a policy and transferring that huge financial risk can be a smart move for those who can afford premiums. Read more about Long Term Care Insurance in Texas and how it can help you not only keep your home, but receive care there, too.

If you are interested in receiving a personalized quote of the top Long Term Care Insurance companies, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you shortly to discuss your options and send you information in the mail to review on your own time, with no pressure.

Boomers Lag on Preventative Services that Could Help Improve Health

Keeping up with your health as you age can seem difficult. With work, family, bills to pay, and errands to run, you may think that focusing on your health isn’t as important in your middle-aged years, but a recent report shows it’s more important than ever.

Preventative Care in Middle Age

A report by the AARP Public Policy Institute found that most middle-aged adults significantly underuse preventative services that are recommended for their age group and it often leads to detrimental consequences.

Services like mammograms, pap tests, colorectal cancer screenings, and flu shots are suggested to adults during the middle-aged years in their life, but very few actually follow the suggestions and receive these preventative services that could potentially bring an otherwise unknown issue to light.

Currently, 44% of US adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have high blood pressure. In addition to that, 33% of middle-aged adults are obese. These risk factors for diseases such as heart disease and health incidents such as stroke pose serious problems that many people refuse to address. Rather than take part in preventative services and attempt to change their lifestyle for the better, most people simply continue on the path of least resistance and live their unhealthy lifestyle until it causes them more tangible problems.

Few States Keeping Up

Southern states have the highest percentage of risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol. The Northeast, on the other hand, has the highest percentage of preventative services used. Still, even these states didn’t meet the federal targets for usage.

States across the country have target numbers set for the preventative services offered and little to none have actually met the targets proposed by the federal government. Only 5 states met the past year’s colon cancer screening target and Utah is the only state that met the set target for smoking. None of the fifty states met the target for flu vaccinations.

According to the report, anywhere between 25,000 and 40,000 deaths could be prevented annually if middle-aged adults altered their lifestyle to include healthy activities and took advantage of these preventative services.

Healthy Living

Healthy lifestyle factors include quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthful foods, and exercising regularly. Typically, it is the things that unhealthy people take pleasure in like lounging around, eating junk food, and smoking that cause them the most harm in the end.

Making simple lifestyle changes can be extremely effective at lengthening your lifespan and reducing your risk of disease. There’s no doubt that Texans enjoy delicious food, and you don’t have to give that up to be healthy, but moderation is key when it comes to foods that we know aren’t that great for our body. On top of that, getting out of the house and taking a walk, even just for 30 minutes, can make a big difference in your health, as well.

You can access the full report here or read more about how the state of Texas ranks in senior health nationwide.

Low Medicaid Reimbursement Rate Affecting Long Term Care in Texas

recent survey conducted by the Texas Coalition for Long Term Care Business (CLTCB) found that 61.4% of companies with nursing homes as customers have seen a decrease in purchasing from those nursing homes in the past year.

Why Is This Happening?

Nursing homes and other long term care facilities in Texas are currently suffering due to the fact that Texas has the 49th lowest reimbursement rate for Medicaid. The reimbursement rate represents the percentage of total cost that the state government is being compensated for program expenditures by the federal government.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid reimbursement rates were set to increase to at least 100% of Medicare reimbursement rates on January 1, 2013. However, the payments have been delayed for 5 months and the new rates have still not yet been effected.

Consequences of Low Reimbursement Rate

The status of the Medicaid reimbursement rate in Texas means fewer doctors are accepting patients paying with Medicaid. This isn’t because the doctors don’t want to treat them; rather, it is because the doctors and hospitals are actually losing money when they treat patients whose primary form of payment is Medicaid.

When reimbursement rates are low and medical facilities continue to experience a rise in costs, it is simply not feasible to continue business as usual. Operations must be changed to fit the high costs and low reimbursement rates. Usually, in order to avoid dramatically reducing quality of care, the first thing to be cut from the budget is staff.

Financial Woes Becoming A Reality

“A recent statewide survey indicated 72% of nursing homes have already had to reduce staff or freeze benefits,” according to Buddy Parker, a member of CLTCB and representative of First Choice Medical Supply in Garland, Texas.

If the Medicaid reimbursement rate remains low, Long Term Care living facilities in Texas will have to continue slashing costs in order to keep up with the rising prices.

Hilltop Haven, a non-profit nursing home just outside Dallas, Texas, was already forced to shut down in March, due to their inability to “find a sustainable financial model”. Ninety percent of Hilltop Haven’s residents were on Medicaid.

Your Best Option

If you are a Texan and you haven’t considered Long Term Care Insurance, now is the time. A government study estimates that 7 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 will need Long Term Care at some point.

Despite a common misconception, Medicare does NOT cover Long Term Care. In order to qualify for the government subsidized Long Term Care from Medicaid, you must exhaust all of your financial assets. As the recent news in Texas proves, Medicaid may not even be a reliable source of quality care anymore. More facilities are turning towards privately insured business models and cutting the number of Medicaid-eligible patients they accept.

If you live in Texas and have questions about Long Term Care Insurance or are interested in a policy, visit the Texas Long-Term Care Partnership website here.

Two New Memory Care Facilities Under Construction in Texas

As the need for long term care continues to increase across the United States, senior housing developers are working to keep up with demand.

Memory Care in Texas

Memory care facilities are of particular interest to providers as more people begin to recognize the importance of patient-centered dementia care. The LaSalle Group recently broke ground on two memory care facilities in Texas.

The two newest LaSalle Group memory care facilities are located in Austin and Georgetown. The location in Georgetown has been named Autumn Leaves of Georgetown and is located at 3600 Williams Lane. A groundbreaking ceremony was held last month and construction is now under way. The facility will be 26,000 square feet in size and will cost approximately $10.3 million to build. Once built, it will house and treat 50 patients and residents.

Growing Number of Seniors

The elderly population continues to rapidly grow across the nation, and in Texas especially. Many people see Texas as an ideal retirement spot because of the weather and lack of state income tax, and Austin is an especially popular choice. Austin has the nation’s largest and fastest growing pre-retiree population and long term care facilities are springing up all over to meet the relatively new demand.

“With an increase in the number of seniors in the area, there is also a need for high quality Alzheimer’s and dementia care,” said John Barbee, executive vice president of real estate for The LaSalle Group, in a statement.

Austin Location

Autumn Leaves of Northwest Austin is the name of the second facility currently underway. The facility will be very similar to the one in Georgetown: it will be 26,000 square feet in size and will cost around $10.7 million to build. Once completed, the facility will house and treat 46 residents. Both facilities also have technological features like a motion sensor system in every room to help improve the safety of residents and quality of care provided.

Preparing for the risk of long term care is a vital component of planning for retirement. If you should ever need care for any reason, Long Term Care Insurance is a great tool that can help ensure you won’t have to deplete all your assets to pay for care or enroll in Medicaid.

Read more about planning for long term care or find out the best places to retire in Texas.

The Cost of Long Term Care in Texas – Can You Afford to Self-Insure?

Self-insuring for long term care is a pretty common topic in the news these days, but how can you know if it’s the right decision for you or not? The truth is, self-insuring is really only possible for a small and specific group of people. It isn’t the best idea for most people, and there are a few reasons why.

Cost of Care

If you’ve looked into the cost of long term care, you know it’s expensive. Quite expensive, actually. In Texas, the average annual cost of a nursing home is $61,320. Surprisingly, that’s on the low end of the spectrum when you consider the average nationwide cost of more than $83,000.

So, if you need nursing home care in Texas for just one year, you should expect to have a good bit more than $50,000 set aside just for the base cost of care.

Most people simply don’t have that kind of money stowed away in their retirement savings. In fact, most people haven’t saved any money for long term care at all. They’ve saved for retirement itself, but retirement is full of other necessary costs that most certainly come before long term care, because chances are you won’t need care until you are in your 70s or 80s.


So who can self-insure for long term care? In all honesty, those with more than several million dollars in assets stowed away are really the only group of people who can successfully self-insure for such a large cost.

The rest of us may think we can, but when the time comes to pay for care, we may end up dipping much farther into our savings than originally intended. This is a mistake many people make, after being told by financial advisors that self-insuring is a better choice than Long Term Care Insurance.

The amount that you would pay in Long Term Care Insurance premiums is typically significantly less than the actual cost of care, so for most people, purchasing a policy is what makes the most sense. Not every one can afford Long Term Care Insurance, but for those who can, and there are many ways to make it work, it is a wise investment worth considering.

Long Term Care Insurance

The cost of Long Term Care Insurance varies widely from carrier to carrier, which is why it’s so important to shop the market before deciding on a policy. If you don’t bother comparing multiple companies, you could end up paying 50-100% more than you would if you did some more thorough research. We help consumers shop the market by sending them a free comparison of all the top Long Term Care Insurance companies.

Understanding each company’s rate increase history and financial ratings is paramount to understanding the risk of your premiums increasing later on. There is always that possibility, but in reality, most people will still opt to keep their policy and reduce their benefits because the value of the policy is still so high.

If you are advised to self-insure for long term care, seriously consider the cost that includes and whether or not you have the extra assets to afford it. Many people don’t and end up waiting too long to realize that fact.

If you would like your own personalized quote comparison, fill out this form and we will be in touch with you shortly. We emphasize a no-pressure process so the consumer feels they are getting all the information without being pushed towards any certain product. It’s crucial that you feel educated and informed about the topic before making any final decision. Read more about long term care in Texas or request your free quote now.