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.

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.

Long Term Care Is a Women’s Issue

Long term care is a tough subject that many people are afraid to discuss or look into because thinking about ourselves as old and frail isn’t fun. It is necessary, though. When we begin to look at long term care and the risk that is poses to us in the future, it becomes clear that long term care is overwhelmingly a women’s issue.

Life Expectancy in Texas

The life expectancy of a male in Texas is currently 75.7 years of age. Women in Texas, on the other hand, live on average to 80.5 years of age. This disparity of about 5 years makes a big difference when talking long term care and retirement plans.

Because women live longer than men, they are likely to be the caregiver if their husband ever needs care for any reason. Unpaid family care is the most common type of long term care in this country, with unpaid caregivers making up 9 in every 10 long term caregivers. It’s inexpensive and it makes things easier than moving into a facility, which is why most people turn to that option.

So, when a man needs care, the chances that his wife will care for him are quite high. When a woman needs care, though, things are different.

Women and Long Term Care

Women are more likely to be divorced or widowed than men and therefore, when they need care, they are less likely to have someone there to provide it for them. This is where the problem lies. Women currently make up about 80% of all nursing home residents across the nation, and they account for around 70% of all long term care insurance claims.

Though the need for long term care can happen to any one, women are at a much higher risk of needing care and having no one around to provide it cost-free. It’s for this reason that purchasing long term care insurance is an extremely wise move for women.

Though prices have increased recently for some products that have transitioned into gender-based pricing, which is pricing that accurately reflects the higher risk of women, it is still more than possible to find an affordable long term care insurance policy.

Learn more about long term care here or if you are interested in getting a free personalized quote to find out just how much long term care insurance would cost you, fill out this form.

Austin Home to Fastest Growing “Pre-Senior” Population

study released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Bookings Institute in Washington, DC highlights the extreme growth that is happening in the aging senior population across the United States, specifically in Texas.

The report compiled by the Bookings Institute drew from data released in the 1990, 2000, and 2010 US censuses. The age classifications according to the study are as follows: “younger population” (under age 45), “older population” (age 45 and above), “pre-senior population” (age 55-64), and “senior population” (age 65 and above).

According to the data released, Austin, Texas is home to the fastest growing “pre-senior” population and the 2nd fastest growing “senior” population in the country.

“Pre-Seniors” and Seniors

Between 2000 and 2010, the metropolitan area of Austin experienced a 63% increase in the “older population”, anyone 45 years and above, the second highest growth rate of any area behind Raleigh, North Carolina.

Similarly, Austin saw a 53% increase in the number of seniors, those ages 65 and up, in the area over the 10 year period.

Lastly and most importantly, Austin ranked #1 with the fastest growing “pre-senior” population of any area in the nation. The number of “pre-seniors”, those aged 55-64, in the Austin-Round Rock area grew 110% between 2000 and 2010, a massive explosion in the city’s aging population of Boomers.

Addressing the Growth

In order to address the growing population of aging Texans, the state needs to begin addressing the so-called “Silver Wave”. This June, Texas state legislature passed a bill, signed by Governor Rick Perry, that would allow Texans to use their life insurance settlements to help  pay for Medicaid long term care expenses.

The bill is a step in the right direction of helping people plan for their long term care needs. Unfortunately, it does not address the entire issue. The life settlements used may not cover the entire cost of care, leaving the claimants stuck again with no way to pay for care, other than forfeit all of their assets, enroll in Medicaid, and move into a nursing facility.

Fortunately, Long Term Care Insurance offers a way for people to safeguard their assets from this potentially devastating situation and receive substantial assistance when paying for care. Despite the hype about rate increases, policies can still be affordable. Even a small amount of coverage will help you tremendously in the future.

Is There Room?

Finding a good facility that provides care can often be as taxing as paying for the care itself. Not to mention the fact that with the number of Texans with Alzheimer’s or dementia expected to triple in the next 35 years, a lack of beds is a major concern for seniors across Texas. Fortunately, the state is leading the way in senior housing construction and assisted living facilities continue to be built in various cities.

US Memory Care is one of the major players opening up a number of facilities across the state over the next several years. They recently opened a memory care center in Colleyville and are currently in the process of building 2 more, one in Cedar Park outside of Austin and one in Houston.

The growing population necessitates a shift in industry and Texas has quickly caught onto the need for more assisted living facilities and memory care centers. Although these facilities provide seniors with a place to live, that isn’t the only thing needed in the age of the Baby Boomers.

Texas communities need to begin brainstorming different ways to provide resources to seniors who live at home, as the trend of “aging in place” continues to grow. A long road of long term care issues lie ahead, and to face them successfully, education and preparation are key.

Medicare Won’t Pay for Long Term Care

Most of us know someone who has needed long-term care services at one point or another. Whether it was a grandparent, friend, or simply an acquaintance, it isn’t hard to recognize that long-term care often has emotionally and financially devastating effects on families.

Too often, people assume that Medicare will pay for their long term care if something ever happens. When a real medical emergency arises, they find themselves scrambling to find a new plan after being told the truth: Medicare won’t pay for long-term care.

Preparing for the Cost

Americans are living longer and healthier lives, so more of us need care in our old age than in past generations, when life expectancy was much shorter and the standard of care was much lower. These days, people want and expect high-quality care, so creating a long-term care plan is essential to ensuring you receive the type of care you prefer.

The cost of long term care in Texas just about aligns with the national average, if not a bit lower, but it’s still far from affordable. In Texas, the median cost of a private room in a nursing home is more than $5,200 a month. Assisted living facilities in Texas are less expensive, but can still add up quickly, at a median monthly cost of more than $3,300.

Even just a few months of care in a facility can substantially reduce your retirement savings, which is why establishing a plan ahead of time is such a smart move.

Long Term Care Insurance Can Help 

Many people think that long term care won’t ever happen to them, but something as simple as a fall can lead to the need for long term care, even if just for a few weeks or months. Preparing a method to pay for any such care helps reduce the stress and confusion that arises from trying to coordinate delivery of services.

Long term care insurance has provided millions of Americans with protection from the high cost of care, helping them shield their assets and have peace of mind that they will receive high quality care.

Long term care insurance policies help pay for the cost of care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or even at home if the policy allows it. Though some companies have raised rates lately to align with the increasing health care costs, the price of premiums is still extremely low when compared to the cost of care.

If you are in good health, you can get a substantial discount on your rates. There are several top-rated companies that insure Texans and have excellent reputations in terms of claim payments. Read more about long term care in Texas or request a quote today.

Ombudsman Programs Help Long Term Care Residents

When the time comes for someone to need long term care, it is typically because they are unable to perform some daily tasks on their own. Bathing, dressing, cooking, food preparation, and getting around with ease are some of the activities that people are likely to need help with when they are in a long term care setting.

Nursing Homes

For those individuals who need more supervised care, nursing homes are often the choice. Medical assistance is provided more readily at nursing homes, so the patients tend to be more incapacitated, either mentally or physically, than those living at assisted living facilities or receiving long term care at home.

This unique situation of need leads to a great deal of vulnerability for these seniors receiving care. Many whom do not have family or whose family lives across the country spend their days without someone checking in on them to be sure everything is alright. Unfortunately, this leaves many opportunities open for neglect and sometimes even elder abuse.

In order to reduce elder abuse and nursing home neglect as much as possible, programs have been created that designate advocates for nursing home residents who might otherwise be unable to speak up for themselves.


The Long Term Care Ombudsman program was started in 1978 and provide advocates for nursing home residents. These ombudsman volunteers spend time in long term care facilities working with patients to best understand their situations and needs.

The volunteers understand what works best for nursing home patients and help advocate for quality care and life in long term care settings.

Ombudsmans are responsible for identifying, investigating, and resolving any complaints made in nursing homes. This means they are often the people that nursing home residents rely on in a time of need, when they feel they have no one else. This program is invaluable to those elderly residents who might otherwise be without a voice in the situation.

Texas Program

The Texas long term care ombudsman program is part of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

The Texas Long Term Care Partnership Plan helps provide Texans with long term care insurance that is tax-deductible and qualifies for a Medicaid spend down waiver should you ever exhaust your long term care policy.

Plan ahead for the future and the possibility that you might need care at home or in a nursing home one day. Read more about long term care in Texas.

Randy Travis to Receive Long Term Care After Heart Failure

Famous country singer Randy Travis has been through a rash of medical disasters this month, necessitating months of rehabilitation and long term care.

Hospitalization and Stroke

After suffering from viral cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure earlier this month, Randy Travis was hospitalized at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas. Just a couple days later, after being weaned off of life support, Travis suffered a stroke, requiring immediate brain surgery to relieve inter cranial pressure.

The congestive heart failure that Travis suffered was due to viral cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a condition that weakens the heart, causing it to fail without external support. The symptoms usually do not present themselves suddenly, but in a slow manner, over time. Although some cardiomyopathy can be attributed to lifestyle decisions, Travis’s was caused by a viral infection in the heart.

Dr. Michael Mack, the medical director of cardiovascular disease at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, suggested that the specific condition was likely due to genetics and family history. Travis’s sister-in-law spoke to People magazine, saying, “Their mother passed away at an early age with her heart, so it is like these boys are following right in their footsteps.”

Chronic Condition

A doctor at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano confirmed that Travis is conscious, awake, and interacting with friends and family. He will remain at the hospital for a few more weeks until his heart is stabilized and doctors feel comfortable releasing him to an inpatient facility.

Although Travis has already begun the early stages of rehabilitation, including taking new medication and participating in physical therapy, his road to recovery is not a short one. His viral cardiomyopathy, although initially an isolated virus, is now a chronic condition that needs regular monitoring.

“We anticipate it will take months to recover from the stroke,”  said Dr. Gary Erwin, an intensivist at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

Preparing for the Worst

Like Travis, many Americans are often hit with a sudden illness or debilitating condition that leaves them unable to perform daily tasks on their own. Whether it is heart failure, a stroke, a bad fall, or a chronic illness, medical emergencies often catch us at the worst time.

If you end up needing care after you leave the hospital, it’s important that you have a financial plan ready. Inpatient facilities, like assisted living or nursing homes, cost anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 annually, depending on the services and location. Outpatient care, like in-home health aides, are cheaper, but still costly.

Long Term Care Insurance provides a way to help cover the high cost of long term care, thereby safeguarding your assets from depletion in long term care situations. Affordable policies are available to help protect against the risk of needing care, so you receive quality care in a comfortable environment.

LTC Tree’s independent agents can help you compare different policies and weigh the options, finding you the best coverage for the lowest rate. Fill out the form to the right if you are interested in a quote today. Long Term Care Insurance provides a financial buffer in times of medical need, so you aren’t caught off guard by the high cost of care and you can focus on what really matters.