Posts Tagged ‘choosing a long term care facility’

Selecting a Long Term Care Facility with Long Term Care Insurance

My mother, Rose, painting with Dementia

My mother, Rose, painting with Dementia

My mom is back at Sunrise Assisted Living and is thrilled to be back home. The only problem she has been facing currently, is that she is now what they call, “a fall risk”. In fact, since she returned home from rehab at Fox Run, she has fallen four times. This means that her level of care is going up and so will her monthly costs. I have a dilemma to deal with. Since my mother has a long term care policy that pays $90/day for an assisted living facility and $150/day for a skilled care facilitity, my question is: Should I move mom to a skilled facility and collect the extra $60/day benefit or $1800/month for her, or do I use her savings to make up the difference in rent?

Sunrise is not considered a Skilled Care Facility, so the most my mother can receive from her policy is 60% of her monthly $150/day benefit. If she were to move to a Skilled Care Facility like Fox Run (owned by Erikson), for example, she could receive the $150/day. Another issue: Fox Run also requires a $100,000 deposit to move in. Not all facilities do this, however, the deposit is returned to the resident when they leave, OR to their estate when they died. Plus there is an added benefit. The resident will never be forced to leave because they run out of money. Once the deposit is used up, the facility takes care of their expenses.

There is a lot to consider, right? My mom spent three weeks at Fox Run in rehabilitation and what I found is they are an excellent medical model facility. The care, however, is totally different than where she currently lives. Fox Run provides a “Medical Model” of care and Sunrise follows a “Social Model”. While my mom was at Fox Run, she was bored and spent all her time in her bed sleeping. Now that I have brought her home to Sunrise, she has spent her days dressed, socializing and very active. We both like the model so much better.

Be sure to consider this when you are looking for a long term care facility for your loved one. It’s amazing not only how many choices there are, but also how the type of facility you select can affect your long term care policy. Let me explain.

When my step father was diagnosed with lung cancer and my mother with Dementia in the fall of 2005, they moved from their private home to an “Independent Retirement Community”. Here they had a two bedroom apartment and even though they had a kitchen in their apartment, lunch and dinners were provided in a beautiful formal dining room with the other residents. When my father became very ill, the facility actually managed the medications and helped with custodial care for an additional fee. He paid for his expenses out of pocket, and then applied to his long term care policy for some small “home care benefits” that the policy provided.

While they were living in an “Independent Living Facility”, my mother was diagnosed with Dementia and qualified for benefits under her long term care policy. The problem we found out was that Independence Village was neither an Assisted Living Facility or Skilled Care Facility even though they had full time nursing staff. It actually had something to do with the construction of the building!

At this point, although my step-father qualified for his long term care benefits, we would have had to move him a new facility to collect his long term care policy benefits. We decided that peace of mind (staying in place) was more important that collecting insurance benefits during his final nine months of life. Had we known about this issue in advance, we would have selected another facility that offered multiple levels of care. This is a good thing to consider before selecting a facility when you own a long term care policy.

So when my step-father passed away, I moved mom to my house temporarily and began to look for a long term care facility that would work best for her situation. This is when we chose Sunrise. The West Bloomfield Facility was just 10 minutes away and she woudl have a wonderful studio apartment, three meals a day and lots of social activities. Her policy would pay 60% of her long term care policy daily benefit which was $150/day.

So this is where mom stands today: She is moving to another wing of Sunrise where they offer a much higher level of care AND she will not be in a nursing home envirnoment. Instead, she will remain very active and spend her days with the other residents in a “home style” area and just go to her room to nap or sleep at night.

Her rent, however will jump from $4800/month to $6330/month. Again, I can collect another $1800/month for her by moving to a Skilled Nursing Facility, but she would be back to the Medical Model. I have decided to run a financial time line to compare the difference between moving and staying to see how long her money will last both ways. And I have also put her on a list to move to the first semi private room when it becomes available. This will save her around $1200/month.

So the question is would you rather be in a Medical Model Skilled Cafe Facility collecting $150/day benefit (probably still in a shared room), or would you rather be in a very large “studio apartment” style shared room in a Social Model Facility for $600 more per month? My choice is the social model. We will start out paying around $6000/month initially for a private room, and then around $5000/month as soon as a semi private room is available. This sounds like a reasonable solution.

My mother is very fortunate. Because she and my step-father came to me for financial planning right after they were married 20 years ago, they were able to do a financial and estate plan when many options were available and insurance costs wereaffordable.

My mother’s long term care policy premium at age 58 (20 years ago) was under $100/month for a lifetime benefit period, and with an inflation rider (so her policy benefit would increase every year by 4%). If she had waited until she was 70 to purchase the policy, it would have been too expensive and she would have been uninsurable.

The secret is starting to plan as early as possible…beginning with our own planning….and realizing that no matter what your situtuation is today, there is always an appropriate plan of action. The key is finding a caring and knowledgeable advisor to help you through the process.

I would like to hear your experiences. Feel free to share them with us. If you are interested in help with these types of questions and situations, email me at or call me at 248-366-0137. Either I or one of our Contributing Experts will be able to help you with your situation. Also, be sure to sign up for my Caregiver’s Manual right here on the website. It’s a great tool for helping you prepare for this entire process.