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.

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.

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.

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.

Foster Home Program Allows Texans to Remain in Community

The likelihood that we will need some form of long-term care services only increases as we age. For most people, nursing homes and long term care facilities are a last resort.

The majority of people would rather receive care at home than move into a facility, away from their families and other loved ones. Fortunately, a relatively new program in Texas allows veterans to receive long term care at medical foster homes throughout their community.

Long Term Care Foster Homes

The Veterans Affairs Medical Foster Home program is made possible by supplemental funding to Veterans Affairs centers throughout the United States. According to a September press release, the program began in Tarrant County just a few months ago.

Beginning in 2008, the foster home program provides veterans with an option other than living at home alone or moving into a long-term care facility. Though many older individuals would prefer to live at home as opposed to moving into a nursing home, families and loved ones often fear for their safety and wellbeing when they live alone, especially if they have mobility problems.

Moving into a nursing home, however, is often the last thing that people want to do because it takes them away from their community and often increases feelings of isolation. This new program allows them to remain in their community among their loved ones, receiving care from a local caregiver.


The North Texas Health Care System is seeking caregivers interested in joining the program and helping local veterans receive the care that they need. Caregivers must agree to provide constant supervision, as well as accept and partake in the veteran’s medical care plan.

Veterans might need care for the rest of their lives, so caregivers are expected to be prepared for a long term stay and provide any personal assistance that might be needed.

The Veterans Affairs press release encourages anyone interested in becoming a foster home caregiver to contact Joyce Sanders-King at 817-730-0335 or Czarvitto Rogers at 817-730-0268.

Planning for Care

Long term care can be an intimidating change for many, but this new program eases the transition and helps people feel comfortable and happy in their new care setting. Read more about the use of family caregivers for long term care or how to best plan for long term care.

How Genworth Handles Policyholder Services

In a recent short video about Genworth’s Long Term Care Insurance division, President and CEO Tom McInerney addressed the company’s approach to policyholder services.

Consumer Needs

McInerney expressed what a fantastic job Genworth does of meeting the needs of consumers looking to get coverage for long term care. They also perform well when the consumer is in the most need, which is when they are actually making a claim.

Genworth has a great reputation in the industry, according to McInerney, of paying claims reliably and helping guide claimants through the entire process. Whether that means explaining the benefits, helping initiate the claim, or choosing the right care setting, Genworth strives to help customers in a quick, efficient, and friendly manner.

Planning for Long Term Care

Long Term Care Insurance is something that more Americans need to be thinking about, as our life spans continue to get longer and the chances of needing care continue to go up. According to government estimates, 7 in 10 American seniors will need long term care at some point, so this isn’t a tiny risk we are talking about.

Planning for long term care can make all the difference in retirement, when spending anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 a year for care simply isn’t feasible. Transferring that huge financial risk to the insurance company is a wise decision for anyone with a nest egg to protect.

Find Out More

Read more about planning for long term care or if you are interested in a quote, request one now. We will be in touch with you shortly to help you navigate the many different options for long term care and provide you with all the information necessary for you to make the most informed decision possible.

Texas Announces Plans to Combine Medicare and Medicaid Benefits

For people who receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits from the state of Texas, things might be getting a whole lot easier. The state of Texas just received approval from the federal government to test an idea that would combine the delivery of Medicare and Medicaid benefits to individuals enrolled in both programs.

Why the Change?

Officials say that the combination of the two services could help make it simpler for enrollees to receive their benefits while also potentially reducing costs for both the state and federal governments.

“Combining a person’s Medicaid and Medicare services into one plan makes sense for the consumer and for the taxpayer,” said Chris Traylor, chief deputy commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. “We’ll be able to improve the coordination of care, helping people get the right care in the right setting, and we can save money for both the state and federal governments.”

Right now, Medicare pays for the covered services and then Medicaid picks up the rest of the tab afterwards. By merging the benefit services, it could help coordinate communication between the different programs and encourage better management of care that serves both programs, instead of only financially benefitting one. The new idea could help save money because combining the two services would increase the incentive to support policies that reduce the need for hospitalization, thereby cutting back on inpatient hospital stays and institutional care.

Who is Eligible?

400,000 people living in Texas are currently receiving benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid. Those people are eligible for Medicare based on either their age or disability and simultaneously eligible for Medicaid because of their income status. People enrolled in both programs are referred to as “dual eligibles”.

The program will be piloted in 6 Texas counties that include 168,000 of the dual eligible Texans. In order to enroll in the pilot program, you must be at least 21 years of age. The pilot will begin on March 1, 2015 and information will be sent out to eligible residents in January of next year.

For those who are dual eligible, the long term care expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover are picked up by Medicaid. For those who only qualify for Medicare (and therefore will not be included in this new program), it’s important to remember that despite your age, Medicare does not cover all of your health care expenses. There are many different kinds of out of pocket expenses that Medicare will not pay for, including long term care, which can be extremely expensive. Read more details about the upcoming program here.

To learn more about the cost of long term care in Texas, click here.

Harvard Report Addresses Caregiver Burden Amidst Rise in Long Term Care

Unpaid care is the main source of long term care in the United States and with an increasing need for care comes an increasing burden on caregivers. A recent Harvard report tackles the issue of caregiver burden and its potential effects.

Long Term Caregivers

According to the report, an estimated 43.5 million friends and family are currently acting as unpaid caregivers for their loved ones. Although the majority of Americans aren’t prepared for the risk of becoming or needing a caregiver, an estimated 7 in 10 seniors will need long term care at some point. 9 in 10 of those that receive long term care receive it from a friend or family member and most long term care takes place at home.

When it comes to unpaid care giving, there is often some sort of burden involved. The objectives of the report, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month, were to outline the epidemiology of caregiver burden and provide strategies for physicians to help those with caregiver burden.


The study published in JAMA found that most caregivers are women who spend between 20 and 40 hours every week providing care. Women are more likely to be caregivers because they have longer life expectancies, meaning they are more likely to be around to provide care when their spouse or partner needs it. 20% of all caregivers spend more than 40 hours each week providing care to a friend or family member. Though this time spent providing care takes some physical and emotional tolls on the caregiver, the report noted caregiver burden is often overlooked by clinicians.

When providing long term care to a loved one, many different effects occur in the caregiver’s life. Common ones include physical or emotional exhaustion, financial troubles, missing work, and becoming socially isolated. The Harvard study found that 32% of caregivers have high caregiver burden, which can often manifest itself by way of depression, social isolation, illness, and financial problems. The authors of the study recommend that in addition to checking the health of the patient during a clinic visit, physicians should also check the caregiver’s health.

“Most physicians haven’t been trained to ask patients about it, and it’s a new clinical habit that you have to consciously adopt and work on,” says geriatrician Dr. Anne Fabiny, medical editor of Caregiver’s Handbook, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Assessing Caregiver Burden

Ways to assess the health of the caregiver is asking how they are coping with the responsibility of being a caregiver, how they would describe their quality of life, how often they get out and engage in social activity, and other similar questions. The answers clinicians receive can help them direct the caregiver to resources that can provide help or temporary respite when necessary.

The average dementia patient receives unpaid care valued at $56,290  from friends and family members each year. As the need for long term care grows across the nation, the number of available caregivers continues to shrink.

An AARP report found that the ratio of available caregivers to long term care recipient is estimated to drop to 4:1 in 2030, down from 7:1 in 2010. This coupled with the fact that the number of Americans aged 85 and older will double between 2000 and 2030 means planning for long term care must become a priority before it becomes an overwhelming financial problem for the nation.

Long Term Care Insurance can help those with assets hedge their risk of needing care and protect their nest egg from the growing cost of care. Long Term Care Insurance isn’t right for every one, but it is often right for those with retirement savings not meant to be spent on health care.

Read more about planning for long term care or if you are interested in learning more about the cost of a policy, request a free quote today.

Saving for Retirement Means Prioritizing

The retirement crisis in the United States is all over the news, but most people still haven’t saved enough to support themselves throughout retirement.

Key to a Secure Retirement

We all want a happy, stress-free retirement, but how do we go about attaining that? Many people, especially in current economic times, believe that limited income dissolves the ability to adequately save for retirement. However, with careful planning, anyone can put money towards their retirement and end up with a lump sum over time. One man from Georgia told his story to the Daily Finance and is helping bring a new perspective to retirement planning.

Danny is a 38-year-old teacher who, with his wife and two daughters, lives on a teacher’s salary of approximately $41,000 annually. The couple has already managed to save $60,000 for retirement, no small feat on such a small income. His number one tip is simple: prioritize.

In Danny’s words, “most people don’t have an income problem — it’s an outgo problem”. It’s easy to get wrapped up in products and services that you think you absolutely need now while ignoring the bigger costs that are waiting down the road. Avoiding this trap is the key to saving successfully for retirement and having enough assets to your name to live comfortably when the time comes to stop working.

Health Care Costs 

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, your retirement nest egg might not be quite ready for unexpected medical expenses. No matter how much you plan, there is always a chance that a catastrophic event could empty your savings in a matter of months.

A recent study estimated that the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2013 will need $220,000 for out of pocket health care expenses during retirement. That’s not the end of it either: that estimate doesn’t include the skyrocketing cost of long-term care, something that affects 1 in 2 Americans. As we get older, insurance coverage for this type of medical emergency becomes even more important.

Insure Against the Risk

Long-term care is care that someone needs when they are either injured, ill, or unable to perform activities of daily living on their own. The cost of care varies greatly, but in-home care, the least expensive option, still averages nearly $30,000 a year. Assisted living facilities are pricier at more than $40,000. A private room in a nursing home will run you a shocking $94,000, on average, in the United States.

This is more than just some petty cash – these costs amount to a massive chunk of money, which most people aren’t prepared to dish out during retirement when they are already living on a fixed income.

Long-term care insurance provides coverage for this type of care should you ever need it, and eases the worry that you will be flooded with medical bills. Though a small percentage of Americans have this kind of insurance, more are beginning to recognize the benefits and understand the massive amounts of money that a policy can save you at a time when you are most vulnerable.

Interested in learning more? Read more about long term care insurance.

Need a quote? Request a personalized comparison of the top policies now.