When finding a nursing home or long-term care facility for your family member becomes an urgent necessity, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what you should be looking for and which questions to ask. Luckily, you can count on the expertise of many different professionals who are well-versed in helping you choose the right nursing home and make financial decisions concerning Medicaid, which is called ALTCS in Arizona. Our Medicaid/ALTCS Planning law firm has assisted many families in the Phoenix area in a similar situation — here are a few key aspects to consider when choosing a nursing home for your loved one.

What Should I Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home for My Loved One?

When choosing a nursing home, the most important thing you can do is to ask questions. It is recommended that you make a list of potential care facilities you may want to visit in your area. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and community members, and plan to schedule visits to each nursing home you are interested in. If you are planning to use Medicaid-ALTCS, make sure the facility you are visiting accepts Medicaid, as not every nursing home does. Keep in mind that the location of the nursing home is critical, as it should be as close to your home as possible. The size of the facility and the number of people in it also matters – does your loved one like to be surrounded by others or is he/she more introverted, enjoying quiet spaces?

While visiting, pay attention to items such as how residents are treated, how clean the spaces are, and the level of staffing you notice. It may be a good idea to visit during mealtimes, and ask questions regarding whether residents have a choice in their menus and how special dietary needs are addressed. The same goes for their daily activities — check whether residents have a choice regarding not only their food but their routine and activities or if everything is controlled by staff. This distinction is important if you are looking to keep your loved one independent for as long as possible. The Medicaid website offers a complete guide with more information and questions to ask that can help you choose the right nursing home.

What Are the Three Most Common Complaints About a Nursing Home?

Many nursing homes are often understaffed, which results in a large workload for the few caregivers available. The consequences of relying on an overworked staff are poor service and long wait times. One of the most common complaints from residents who need assistance to get to/from the dining room is how long they have to sit at the table after a meal, waiting for an aid to take them back to their bed.

Another common complaint is regarding the food offered at these facilities. Residents often complain the food is poorly prepared or there aren’t enough food options, such as the ability to choose your side dish. Nursing homes must provide proper, nutritious food and snacks, but the lack of trained staff may result in lower quality meals and fewer choices.

Finally, poor sleep is another frequent complaint, especially in facilities that provide 24-hour care. Some residents complain that staff wakes them up too early, or they are unable to get uninterrupted sleep due to noise coming from other residents’ rooms or resulting from staff conversing in the hallway.

Will Medicaid Help Pay For a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility?

Medicaid (ALTCS) may be available to pay 100% of the costs of long-term care facilities as long as you or your loved one meet certain medical and financial requirements. The Medicaid/ALTCS program is designed to help limited-income individuals to pay for long-term care, and because of that, those wishing to become eligible must meet strict financial requirements. Those requirements are calculated with an equation tied to the Federal Poverty Level. In Arizona, a household of 2 people must have a yearly income of not more than $24,039.00 (as of this writing, but the figure is adjusted periodically) in order to qualify. There are also separate requirements as to assets, though certain property is exempt from consideration.

It is important to understand that Medicaid may have a claim against your estate after you and your spouse pass away. This is called Medicaid estate recovery, and it is a rule that allows the state to recover the cost of care by using the assets in your estate – usually your home – to recoup the amount the state spent on your care. However, with proper planning, you can avoid losing a large chunk of your estate to Medicaid estate recovery.

How Can a Medicaid/ALTCS Planning Lawyer Help Me?

The need for long-term care in a nursing home can be a significant financial burden for an individual and their family, and while Medicaid/ALTCS may seem like a perfect solution, it does not come without consequences, as the Medicaid program may work similarly to a loan from the government that will need to be paid back by your estate, later on, sometimes wiping out all the assets you planned to leave to your heirs.

That is why it is fundamental to consult with a Medicaid/ALTCS Planning attorney. An attorney can not only help you with becoming eligible to receive financial help through ALTCS, but also protect your estate from Medicaid recovery. Rather than waiting until the last minute, planning for the day when you might need to go to a nursing home may prevent headaches and preserve your estate for the next generation. If you need assistance with Medicaid/ALTCS planning, contact Israel & Gerity and request a free consultation – we are here to help.