Articles Posted in Long Term Care Planning

The Governor of New York recently removed a three-month prohibition on a new regulation requiring nursing homes to satisfy minimum staffing requirements to provide patient care. Supporters of the regulation, which establishes minimum staffing ratios and requires that nursing home residents receive at least 3.5 hours a day of direct nursing care, have expressed satisfaction that the delay has ended.

Staffing Levels Are at a Difficult Low

One member of the 1199 SEIU union as well as a nurse at a Dunkirk nursing home has commented that over the last couple of years, times have occurred when she has been the only registered nurse on staff for several dozen residents. This nurse has commented that it is “heartbreaking” to even satisfy the basic need requirements of residents, which include things like personal hygiene. 

The federal department tasked with overseeing nursing homes throughout the country recently announced it is revising its policy and will now publicly post details online about all fines received by care facilities regardless of payment status.

This new policy’s announcements occur during a period of increased criticism due to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) Care Compare website. The agency describes its website as existing to provide American citizens with details regarding matters of the level of care at nursing homes. 

Changes to Nursing Home Fines

New variants of COVID-19 including Omnicron and most recently IHU have led many people to prolong social distancing. Understandably, this extended isolation has had a detrimental impact on the mental health of many elderly adults. While you understandably want the best for your loved one, it’s critical to approach discussions about care with the utmost respect for your elderly loved one’s independence. This avoids not overstepping your elderly loved one’s boundaries. 

Decide If Your Family Member Needs Assistance

One of the best places to start is to create a mental checklist of what you should examine about how your elderly loved one lives. Some of the most important details you might decide to examine include:

At the beginning of January 2022, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services revised the organization’s “Frequently Asked Questions” sections. This FAQ addresses the agency’s Nursing Home Visitation Guidance. 

The revised FAQ emphasizes that visitation must be allowed at all times and states that visitation is essential for all residents. The FAQ also acknowledges that previous limitations on visits led to a decline in the physical as well as psychosocial health of residents. 

The Primary Updates

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program available to people who meet certain asset requirements that help pay for long-term care costs. Long-term care unfortunately often presents financial challenges for individuals in the United States including both the elderly as well as others who provide care for family members and lose income as a result. Despite these potential challenges, Medicaid is still one of the best methods in countless situations to pay for long-term care. Adequate planning for Medicaid can let you qualify for the program without experiencing financial hardships. To better help you navigate Medicaid, this article reviews some important tips to understand about the Medicaid planning process.

# 1 – Inform Yourself in Advance

Given that it is both a federal and state program, Medicaid standards differ based on the state in which a person lives. While other states have different names for the system, New York state calls the program Medicaid. A person in New York qualifies for Medicaid if that individual has high medical bills, receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or meets certain financial requirements. Unfortunately, however, many people wait to learn about Medicaid until catastrophic events occur that necessitate immediate planning. An increased risk exists during crisis that a person will listen to misinformed individuals. If you have any questions or concerns about Medicaid or the role it can play for your loved one, it is a much better idea to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.

End of life planning can be a very daunting task and is one many individuals do not want to face, however, actively addressing any future healthcare scenarios or issues in the event you are no longer fully capable, can save all parties involved from making painful or difficult decisions during emotional times. When thinking about the possibility of future incapacitation, it is important to know the different estate planning tools available in order to be adequately educated on your power to assign an agent to act on your behalf.

Health Care Proxy & Their Influence

When determining what your wishes would be in the event you are no longer able to make your own medical decisions, whether due to incapacity or illness, electing a healthcare proxy will help ensure that the decisions you made prior to incapacitation are honored. A healthcare proxy is an established health care agent named by you, as recognized under New York law, that can make healthcare decisions for you ONLY upon incapacitation, whether that incapacitation is temporary or permanent. Health care proxies are one of a few types of advance directives; it is also worthwhile to consider making a living will and filling out a Do Not Resuscitate Order. Assigning a healthcare proxy as well as making a living will ensures you not only have someone to carry out your wishes, but also have a way to notify loved ones about the decisions you have made for the end of your life.  

Rather extraordinary claims were recently made by researchers in a Nature Medicine article that may forever change the long-term care planning landscape.

Scientists from Georgetown University are claiming to have developed a blood test that can determine whether an individual will develop dementia symptoms within two or three years. Their findings suggest the test is 90% accurate. While few are questioning the researchers methods, it is still to early to know if the results will hold up in future studies. This initial group consisted of only 525 total participants (all over age 70), with only 28 of that group ultimately developing symptoms. More efforts are already underway to test larger groups and potentially verify the results.

While this test offers nothing in the way of a direct cure to prevent Alzheimer’s or minimize symptoms, it still may eventually lead to treatments. That is because some research argues that all previously attempted therapies failed because they were only begun after someone showed the symptoms–at which point it may have been too late. However, if this test proves accurate, then treatments can begin earlier that may actually be effective.

Elder care advocates are understandably up in arms following reports about questionable evictions from a Brooklyn facility catering to seniors. The sad situation is a reminder of the continuing struggles faced by so many local families in their quest for quality, reliable long-term care and support. It is also a troublesome sign that most communities remain drastically unprepared to provide the aid that will be needed in coming decades as the New York population ages.

NY Nursing Residents Evicted After Facility Closure

As reported by the NY Daily News last month, a group of over 100 Brooklyn seniors are currently scrambling to find alternative living arrangements following the announcement of the sudden closure of the Prospect Park Residence. The Park Slope facility has been a home for senior for over 15 years. But that will end in May, as the facility is slated to shut its door by the beginning of June.

The face of New York nursing home care has been changing in recent years. The traditional model of individual counties throughout the state owning and operating facilities to provide care to ailing seniors is being phased out in may places. Instead, the counties are selling the homes to private companies to operate. The moves are spurred in almost all cases by financial realities–the facilities are too expensive for the county to operate.

Understandably, elder advocates worry about the effect of the change on senior care. In the past, some analyses have suggested that privately-run nursing homes, on average, show more “deficiencies” than their public counterparts. The assumption is that private homes are motivated by profit and more willing to cut resources to residents and refuse to pay wages for the best caregivers in order to boost their bottom line.

But is is important to remember that no two homes are identical, and “averages” do not mean that all privately run homes are rampant with neglect and need to be avoided. Early reports out of Ulster County, for example, offer a hopeful reminder that quality decreases may not automatically follow private nursing homes sales.

The aging process is never easy–for the senior or their family. Thoughts of mortality aside, the challenge of dealing with the day to day vulnerabilities of elderly friends and family is something that is impossible to fully appreciate until you experience it first-hand. From figuring out how to get groceries, doing to the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and countless other tasks, seniors who are facing physical and mental decline connected to their age have a myriad of daily struggles.

One of the most acute challenges faced by aging New Yorkers relates to driving. It is easy to forget how much one relies on driving until the privilege is taken away. Considering the importance of driving, it is little wonder than most seniors do everything they can to keep their traveling options open, even when their frailties make it unsafe. Friends and family members of New York seniors must be prudent about monitoring this risk and stepping in when necessary.

Senior Driving Fact Sheet

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