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Hernando Today

Nursing home's extra expenses

By GARY JOSEPH LeBLANC
Common Sense Caregiving
Published: November 5, 2009

When all possibilities have been exhausted and the patient must be placed in a nursing home, you should be aware that the average cost of residential care in the United States is $180 per day or approximately $63,500 per year. Even after that, there are certain expenses that still will not be covered. Every facility is required to provide you with a list of items that are not part of their daily or monthly rate. These are some of the items that might not be covered: Laundry services, bedside telephone, hearing aids, eyeglasses, dentures, haircuts and transportation 'round trip for outside medical procedures.

Also, there are many co-pays you will encounter that their health insurance or Medicare might not give 100 percent coverage; such as medications, lab work, physicians' bills and physical therapy, and that's just to name a few.

Medicare seldom covers more than 21 days at 100 percent and Medicaid is usually only available to low-income people. This is why it's so important to financially prepare early on. It's not like you can just drop them off and their expenses will be 100 percent covered. It doesn't work that way.
If the patient is on Medicaid, they may have to surrender their assets to obtain funding for residential care.

Remember. It is difficult for any nursing home resident to be an effective advocate for themselves. It's unarguably impossible for any Alzheimer's patient.

If you become a resident and believe you're running into problems with the facility and you feel it's not being resolved with the administration.

Contact the Department of Elders Affairs and ask to be appointed an ombudsman to look into your complaints. This is a legal representative acting as an advocate making sure the residents' rights are not being violated.

The Freedom of Information Act ensures public access to any state or federal inspection reports. If the facility doesn't have them posted in an accessible spot, you should check the results from your local Social Security office. Tour the facility yourself. Ask many questions; whatever crosses your mind. Ask not only their staff, but the residents, also. Ascertain everything you can before making a final decision of placing your loved one there.
Enlisting a patient into any facility is a life changing decision, which should be approached with much thought and major advance research.

Meet with the center's administrator; discuss the base pay and any extra charges that may incur. Make sure the basic charges are in writing and don't sign "anything" until you absolutely understand all financial matters completely. The pile of papers you have to endorse are extensive and somewhat confusing.

Gary Joseph Le Blanc was the primary caregiver of his father for more than eight years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He can be written c/o Hernando Today at 15299 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613 or e-mail us41books@bellsouth.net.