Pneumonia Poses Risk In Long Term Care Facilities

Nursing home residents are often in close quarters, and despite how healthy they are when they enter, they are at a higher risk of developing infections when they are in the facility. Pneumonia is one of the most common, and is one of the highest causes of disease and mortality in nursing homes across the country.

Infectious Disease

Pneumonia is an infection  within the lungs that is caused by either bacteria or a virus, and results in a number of different health problems. The infection is inhaled through the lungs, and research suggests people are even more vulnerable to pneumonia after recently having had the flu.

Symptoms of pneumonia include a cough, fever, fast breathing, chills, chest pain that worsens with breathing or coughing, weakness, and nausea.

The elderly are especially susceptible to pneumonia because their immune system is already weakened. The infection might manifest itself in different ways in the elderly, however, including cognitive problems like memory loss and confusion, which may make it harder to discern.


The CDC recommends that all adults over the age of 65 receive the pneumococcal vaccine. They also suggest the influenza shot for all seniors, because the flu can often morph into pneumonia if not treated in a timely manner.

patient in Texas is currently recovering from Legionnaire’s disease, which is a dangerous viral form of pneumonia. He was diagnosed last Tuesday at Waco VA Medical Center. Pneumonia cannot be spread by human contact, but only through the inhalation of air that contains the virus or bacteria. The staff at the facility is testing other residents who exhibit any symptoms of pneumonia, but so far no one else has been diagnosed.

Testing for pneumonia often involves questioning regarding symptoms, a physical exam, and possibly a blood test or chest x-ray. Because pneumonia is passed through aspiration, oral care is extremely important in avoiding pneumonia in nursing home residents.

Boost Protection

In addition to monitoring oral health, general health will help reduce your susceptibility to pneumonia. More than 300,000 people are affected by pneumonia every year and between 40,000 and 70,000 of those cases are fatal. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep help keep your immune system strong.

If you put effort into maintaining your health as you age, you can seriously reduce your risk of an infection like pneumonia and increase the chances of living retirement healthily and happily.

Texas Ranks Worst in Nation for Nursing Home Quality of Care

Families for Better Care, a Florida-based nursing home resident advocacy group, recently released a report detailing the quality of nursing homes across the nation.

The report found that nursing homes in the US aren’t up to the standards they should be, and for a lot of states like Texas, it’s much worse than that.

Texas Receives Failing Grade

The group touted the study as the first of its kind, a state-by-state nursing home report card. The study was based on eight federal measures, including facility deficiencies, staffing hours, health inspections, and verified ombudsman complaints. Texas received an F and was the only state to receive a failing grade in 6 of the 8 measures.

Brian Lee, the group’s executive director said “Texas epitomizes what’s dreadfully wrong with nursing home care and oversight in America.”

“It seems skeleton crews are working the hallways of Texas nursing homes,” said Lee.  “With so few staff to care for residents, it’s not surprising that less than 20 percent of Texas nursing homes scored above average inspection ratings and almost 95 percent were cited one or more deficiencies.”

Ombusman Complaints Verified

Ombudsmen are volunteers who act as advocates and representatives for residents in long term care facilities. Ombudsmen work to ensure the patients and residents at these facilities receive quality care and respect in a dignified, appropriate setting. When a complaint is made, ombudsmen are tasked with identifying, investigating, and helping to resolve the complaint.

According to the recent report, Texas ombudsmen verified 92.19% of the registered complaints, ranking 44th in the nation.

Nationwide Problem

To gather the data for the report, Families for Better Care utilized staffing data compiled by the Kaiser Health Foundation, performance measures from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Compare, and the Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman complaint data.

Texas was far from the only state with obvious issues: close to 90% of all nursing homes were cited as having a deficiency. Another disturbing statistic is that 96% of states offered residents fewer than three hours of direct resident care per day. Given that lack of social interaction has a profound effect on the rapidness of mental decline, these numbers highlight yet again the massive need for caregivers that our country is experiencing.

Unfortunately, a number of these nursing homes lack substantial funding. Texas, especially, suffers in the area of long term care due to the fact that the state has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the nation.

Preparing for a long term care situation far in advance can give you the time to research facilities and know your options. Long term care insurance can help you hedge your financial risk from the cost of long term care and provide a safeguard for your nest egg, should you ever need care. Even minimal coverage can help save significant money down the road, and if you work with an independent agent, you can get a plan from a solid company for an affordable rate.

Fill out the quote request form if you are interested in learning more about long term care insurance and we will be in touch with you shortly.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Go Unreported in Texas

The Center for Disease Control recently published results of a survey they conducted across 21 states in the United States. The goal was to determine the span of memory loss and cognitive decline across the senior population, those aged 60 years old and up. The findings, especially for Texans, were bleak.

Increased Memory Loss

According to the survey, 13% of all Texas respondents reported memory issues. 40% of those with memory issues also reported that it interfered with their daily lives. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can often impair someone’s ability to perform tasks that were once second nature, like dressing, bathing, or eating.

Alzheimer’s and dementia can be difficult to identify at first, because it usually progresses slowly, and presents itself as mere confusion or forgetfulness. However, with Alzheimer’s cases expected to increase by one-third in the next 12 days, it is important to know the indicators because early detection can often help people ward off the disease for much longer.

Despite this, nearly 80% of the Texans who experienced memory problems and cognitive decline had not discussed their symptoms with a doctor.

Early Stage Alzheimer’s 

Researchers have found an increasingly present connection between Depression and Alzheimer’s, which lends the need for greater attention paid to one’s own mental state. Those who have felt more forgetful than usual or recognize their confusion as a possible indicator of Alzheimer’s should speak to their doctor immediately.

Unfortunately, once you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is too late to buy a Long Term Care Insurance policy to help you cover the cost of your health services. That is why it is crucial to research Long Term Care Insurance when you are young and healthy. An LTCI policy will help safeguard your assets from depletion and cover the cost of the quality care services you deserve. Long term care is affecting more Americans every day, and it is time to start planning for the

US Memory Care Announces Locations Across Texas

Alzheimer’s and dementia are on the rise, and the number of cases in the United States is expected to triple by 2050. A massive influx of patients is about to hit the long term care facility industry, and there aren’t enough beds to take them all… Not yet, anyway.

Memory Care Gains Ground 

US Memory Care, founded in 2011, is currently in the process of opening a number of memory care facilities across Texas. The company’s first memory care center opened recently in Colleyville, a city outside Dallas. The facility was the first of 20 separate memory care facilities that US Memory Care plans to build over the next 3 years.

Construction began early this year on 2 other locations in North Dallas and Vintage. Facilities in 2 more locations, Cedar Park (outside of Austin) and Southwest Houston, were announced this week and are expected to break ground soon. Each US Memory Care facility is expected to be 60,000 square feet and hold 75 residents.

Memory care facilities have become increasingly popular as the need for dementia specific care becomes more apparent. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia require a very different environment than other nursing home residents, and senior housing developers are recognizing the importance of these care-specific settings in the long term care realm.

Designed for Success

US Memory Care facilities are all set up in the same way; they are separated into 3 “neighborhoods” developed around a “Main Street” common area. Each of the different neighborhoods is home to residents that require a similar level of care, and the common area focuses on positive social interaction.

Marti Smith, Regional Director of Marketing and Sales at US Memory Care released the following statement regarding the construction of the company’s new facilities: “At US Memory Care we live our mission everyday: to transform the lives of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and those who care for them. Elderly care, especially in the area of memory loss, must provide a safe and compassionate environment for the residents and the families they serve. The design of our communities is unique to US Memory Care, and establishes a setting that enables us to provide the level of expertise and care for each resident on an individual basis.”

The setting certainly seems compassionate, namely the common room that includes a movie theater, barber shop, beauty salon, music hall, sweet shop, dining hall, and more. The typical image of cold, quiet halls in a barren nursing home that one might associate with long term care is completely squashed by this innovative type of care setting.

Progress Ahead

US Memory Care offers Texas residents a totally new way to receive dementia care. As Alzheimer’s prevalence increases rapidly across the nation, this specialized care is spreading in popularity, too.

Facilities like the US Memory Care facilities are top notch facilities that many people would choose as their preferred facility if given the option. However, not every one has the option. If you rely on Medicaid for your long term care, you will most likely end up in a standard nursing home. Patients with Long Term Care Insurance are able to choose from a variety of services, including in-home care, specialized care centers like these memory care centers, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes.

Long Term Care Insurance provides policyholders with the assurance that their assets will not be exhausted and they will still receive the type of care they prefer in the setting they choose. Texans are fortunate enough that the state has set up a Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program, which incentivizes residents to buy LTCI. Visit our home page to learn more about the Partnership Program and general Texas LTCI information.

Austin Named Top Retirement City in US

Retirement is a time to relax and enjoy yourself, and Austin, Texas is one of the top spots to do just that, according to recent rankings.

Cities Gain Popularity Among Seniors

The annual list released by Where to Retire magazine, “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire”, includes a number of metropolitan areas that appeal to soon-to-be retirees. More seniors are opting to move into cities in order to enjoy their retirement to the fullest, and Texas is at the forefront of this movement. The city of Austin is frequently named as one of the top places to live in retirement, and this year’s list was no exception.

Living in a city provides a number of benefits, but often the most cited is close proximity to everything. Driving doesn’t have to be an issue, especially in a city where you can walk to the park, lunch, the grocery store, and other shops. Cities also typically offer a variety of exercise classes, cooking classes, and other activities that can keep retirement exciting.

Defining retirement is important because keeping yourself busy can help ward off cognitive decline. Rather than sit around and be physically and mentally idle, more people are gravitating towards an active retirement, whether that means working a part-time job, volunteering in the community, or being involved in another social activity.

Opportunities in Austin 

Austin offers all its residents, retirees included, a vast selection of attractions like museums, tons of shops, and restaurants within the bustling city to keep them entertained. It’s nearly impossible to run out of options when you are in a city like Austin, where the cosmopolitan area is always full of live music and other cultural events that anyone can enjoy.

For a more relaxing time, the city also boasts a number of golf courses and parks to help stay active and enjoy the Texas weather. Retirement communities are also popular in the area, which has the fastest growing pre-senior population in the nation.

Retirement should be an enjoyable time in your life, and moving to Austin can help make it even better. Read more about living in Texas during your retirement years.

Texas Ranks at Bottom for Long Term Care Quality

Texas comes in at the bottom when it comes to long term and nursing home care in the United States, according to a recent report released by AARP.

Long Term Care Scorecard

With an increase in both the cost of long term care and the demand for it, some states are struggling to keep an effective long term care system in place. An increase in patients and a declining availability of caregivers has led to greater financial burden on the states and some are doing a better job than others at providing care for the growing demographic. The recent report evaluated the progress of long term services and supports in each state. Texas ranked 30th overall out of 51.

The report, titled “Raising Expectations 2014: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers”, looks at various influencers of the long term services and support systems within the 50 states. It found that the availability, cost, and quality of care vary greatly depending on where you are in the country. The analysis includes 26 measurable indicators grouped into 5 main categories, which include affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life and care, support for family caregivers, and effective transitions.

System Measures

Texas ranked at the very bottom of the scorecard for both quality of life and care and transitions; the Lone Star state ranked 49th and 47th, respectively. On the better side, Texas ranked 10th for affordability and access of long term care services.

Included in those measurable factors is the number of people with long term care coverage through private insurance. In Texas, 38 of every 1,000 adults aged 40 and older have long term care coverage. Washington DC has the highest rate of insured with 130 per 1,000 adults owning a private Long Term Care Insurance policy. In terms of the cost, quality, and direction of care, there were both improvements and setbacks. Consider these statistics about Texas’s long term care system:

–       The median nursing home cost as a % of median household income for 65+ was reported to be 181% in 2013, down from 205% in 2010.

–       The nursing home staff turnover rate is the third worst in the country. In 2010, the rate was reported to be 72%, up from 46.2% in 2008.

–       The percentage of nursing home residents with low care need decreased from 16.4% in 2007 to 14.3% in 2010, indicating the system’s transitions are more effective.

–       The percentage of Medicaid and other state funds going towards home and community based services for the elderly and disabled has increased to 53.5% in 2011 from 50% in 2009.

–       The percentage of disabled adults usually or always getting needed support was up to 68.9% in 2010, from 66% in 2009.

Plan for Care

The AARP report was released shortly before the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission meets to assess potential changes for the Department of Aging and Disability Services. The Commission published a report last month detailing violations including weak enforcement of nursing home violations and failure to close inadequate facilities.

Long term care is an important topic that deserves some research on your part, both on the cost of care in your area, the best facilities for care, and the various ways to shield your savings from the cost. Texas has quickly become a retirement hot spot, but making plans for your long term care can help ensure those years are spent without worrying about spending through your nest egg.

You can learn more about the cost of long term care in Texas and how to prepare for the bill. Planning for long term care is an important part of securing your financial future. Request a free quote comparison of the top companies today.

Protect Your Assets with a Texas Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Plan

The last thing any one wants is to outspend their life savings; that’s why most of us spend so much time planning our retirement to the tee. When the need for long-term care strikes, many people aren’t prepared.

Why Plan for Long Term Care?

Planning for long term care is something that is often left out of retirement plans, either due to a lack of awareness or because the risk seems too far fetched. Unfortunately, it’s not that far fetched at all.

The risk that any American will need long term care is about 50%, and that gets bumped up to 70% once you reach age 65. Compare that to the risk of getting in a car accident, which is 1 in 240, according to a study done by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or the risk of experiencing a house fire, which is 1 in 1,200, the risk of long term care is extraordinarily high.

So given that the chances are so high, how do you protect yourself from this risk? Assuming you have assets that you would like to shield from the cost of health care during retirement, Long Term Care Insurance can provide a solution.

What is Long Term Care Insurance?

Long Term Care Insurance provides coverage for care received in a long term care setting. That can include a nursing home, assisted living facility, in-home care, and other settings like adult day care, as well. Care in these facilities can be extremely costly and can reach up to $100,000 a year.

Without insurance, you will either have to pay out of pocket, forgo facility care for care provided by a family member, or spend down your assets to qualify for Medicaid. None of those three options are ideal for anyone; they include financial and emotional stress, while Long Term Care Insurance often helps you avoid this type of problem.

Texas, like most states in the US, has a Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program to help address the growing need for long term care. On top of your typical Long Term Care Insurance policy, with the Partnership Plan, you are also eligible for another benefit: a Medicaid spend down waiver. What this means is that if you exhaust all of your benefits from your policy and still need care, you won’t be forced to spend all of your assets to qualify for Medicaid.

How Does the Partnership Program Help?

These programs exist to encourage personal responsibility amongst state residents and reduce the burden on the state. If more people purchase Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Plans, that is a significantly lesser amount that the state will be forced to pay for people’s care. It also helps ensure you won’t be stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to paying for care, because you will have established a solid plan.

To find out more about the Texas Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program, visit the website. If you would like to learn more about how Long Term Care Insurance can help, read our post here.

To get a long term care insurance quote comparison from the top companies in Texas, fill out this form and we will be in touch with you shortly to send you your free quote in the mail.