Here are some things you need to know.
As a Marketing and Admissions Director, I get calls daily from family members who are worried about whether or not their loved one will be able to afford the cost of senior living or cost of assisted living in Milwaukee. They want to know “What does an assisted living facility cost?” and “Can I afford it?” They want to know what happens when funds run low. I’m here to provide some information so you can make an informed decision.
Assisted living communities can vary a lot in costs. The RCAC (Residential Care Apartment Complex) is typically for higher functioning, more independent residents while the CBRF (Community Based Residential Facility) is for those with higher needs, including memory care. Costs can vary by regulatory type, geographic location, size and type of apartment, and care provided. A registered nurse is likely to do an assessment before your family member moves in to see how much care they need and determine whether the placement is appropriate. It’s also up to you to decide whether that assisted living facility meets your needs and desires.
Private Pay and Medicaid
Many assisted living facilities require two or three years of “private pay” (market-rate costs) upon entry. What that means is they expect that the resident has the funds in their bank account to pay the regular rates for two years without going on Medicaid (Title 19) or Family Care. The money does not need to be paid upfront but would need to last. Some assisted living facilities do not accept Medicaid at all, or they limit the number of Medicaid residents since the reimbursement is lower than what they’d get directly from the resident who pays privately.
You may have heard the term Family Care, and that’s the program that is commonly seen in assisted living communities. Family Care provides a funding source for Medicaid-eligible residents in Milwaukee assisted living communities and is provided by a few different Care Management Organizations within the county. It is important to ask a facility whether they can accept Family Care (Title 19/Medicaid funding) and if your loved one can remain in place when they go on T19.
Villa St. Francis Accepts Family Care With Some Restrictions
There are some places, such as Villa St. Francis, that may accept Family Care upon admission, with some restrictions. Villa St. Francis can also accept people who are lower on funds. However, if your loved one needs a secured memory care facility, it’s important to act before they run too low on funds. There is a large demand now for memory care, and the options are fewer for those who are low on funding. As the needs of a resident increase, costs increase, which is why so many places will only take private pay residents for memory care. In many cases, the reimbursement does not increase with the added costs for dementia care.
Applying for Medicaid and getting on a Family Care program (or similar program) can also take a few months. The process can delay an admission if you’re needing to place your loved one quickly. This might be the case after a fall and a hospital visit. Then your loved one might go into rehabilitation in a nursing home for a few weeks, and if they can’t go home, families can often be in crisis mode to find a place for their loved one quickly, which can be very stressful. Once rehabilitation is completed and Medicare stops paying for the care at the rehab facility, funds can be depleted quickly if they remain there, which is why you need a good plan.
Medicaid Eligibility in Wisconsin
Another important thing to consider is Medicaid eligibility, which is based on assets and income. For someone going through the process, a financial investigation is done, and they use a “lookback” period of five years. When looking to protect family assets, be aware of the laws since “gifting” large sums of money and property can deem someone ineligible for Medicaid and Family Care. Not only can this cause a denial for eligibility but it could mean that a person could get denied admission to the assisted living community of their choice. Since so many places want a certain amount of private pay funds (regular rates), this is crucial. Having enough money set aside to allow for choices is important, especially for memory care.
Planning Ahead When Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility
It’s important to plan ahead and ask these questions when visiting assisted living facilities.
What services are provided? What does your loved one need?
Will they allow you to tour? Touring is a great idea for anyone involved in the decision.
What is the cost? Is there an entrance fee? A deposit? Is it month-to-month or is there a longer leasing period required?
How long will it be before the savings account for my loved one runs out? It is important to know what your loved one has now so you can make an informed decision about options and affordability.
How much money does the assisted living facility require the resident to pay of their own money, and how long before a resident runs out of money? Some facilities require more private pay funds than others so it’s important to look around before your loved one is too low on funds. And a facility may require more available funds if you are working with a placement agency. This may be a company that you find online while searching “best assisted living in Milwaukee” and they act as an interface to help you find an assisted living community. They will only give you names of communities they are contracted with, and it may not be a complete list of options. There is typically no cost to you for using them in your search for assisted living communities, but the cost gets passed on to the facility for any new residents they send. If your loved one is low on funds, call the assisted living community directly as it’s likely they’ll be more lenient on the amount of funding required. It’s always a good idea to call the facility directly anyway, as you’ll get an employee who works there and knows details about the services provided, rather than an advisor who lives out of state and knows little about the property.
Will the facility keep my loved one when he/she is on Medicaid or will they have to move out? What facilities will take someone on Medicaid? Many seniors will run out of funding at some point, and it’s important that the assisted living community you choose is able to keep them so you don’t have to go through the search and moving process again.
Does your loved one need memory care? If so, it’s good to start looking sooner than later. It’s likely that more private pay funds could be needed for memory care than assisted living.
A final thought
It’s a good idea to look at your loved one’s finances now, and think about their future needs. If their funds are running low and they are considering assisted living at some point, it may be a good idea to think about it now while they have more options.
Villa St. Francis’ Solidarity with the Poor promise allows residents to age in place, regardless of their finances. We ensure that the needs of the poor and vulnerable are met through advocacy and action. At Villa St. Francis, close to our heart is Jesus’ healing ministry for vulnerable persons. We ensure that every resident’s human dignity is protected and they are treated with compassion and caring service. Villa St. Francis is a Community Based Residential Facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
You’ve recently noticed a growing problem: your grandparent, parent, or loved one seems to be having more and more trouble with daily activities. Their dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is progressing. You’re worried your family member isn’t eating like they should or may wander off and get hurt. Although this special person in your life gets daily assistance with bathing, dressing, cooking, and taking their medication, you have come to realize that your loved one needs more help than you can give them.
As much as you’d love to let them stay in their own home, you know you need to find somewhere better suited for their physical and neurological needs. So, you begin to research Milwaukee memory care facilities.
Transitions Can Be Challenging
Moving someone from their home to a senior care facility can be a challenge for not only the person moving in but for the entire family. That’s why you need to find a Milwaukee memory care center you can trust and one that offers its residents a variety of experiences to give them a rich and full life.
A memory care center’s goal should be to help its residents maintain their highest function level by maximizing their psychosocial and cognitive skills. To provide their residents with a secure, comfortable, and clean place to live and have personal care services and a supportive community for those with irreversible cognitive loss.
Why A Senior Living Facility?
Right now, your parent, grandparent, or significant other seems to be happy where they are. But health conditions can change in a flash. Sooner than later, the day will arrive when you will have to make the difficult decision to move them to a Milwaukee memory care facility. The truth is, this kind of center is the best choice for their welfare, health, and safety. It’s the optimum alternative for a loved one who requires more assistance than the extended family and a visiting nurse can manage. Plus, if you have a home care agency coming in to assist them, you may actually be spending more than you would by placing them in a specialized memory care center. As the home care hours increase, so does the cost. Villa St. Francis allows your family member to age in place as their requirements increase with their Milwaukee memory care facilities, even if your loved one eventually needs hospice care or runs out of funds.
Research Milwaukee Memory Care Centers First
The initial step to finding your loved one the best Milwaukee memory care center is to do some research. Make a list of facilities in your area. You and the rest of the family will want to visit often, so first, find a convenient location.
Next, make a list of what your parent, grandparent, or loved one needs.
- What medications do they take?
- Will they need physical therapy?
- How much assistance do they need with daily living activities?
- How advanced is their dementia?
- Is your loved one still capable of cooking meals, dressing themselves, etc.?
- Do they want to live in a specific part of town?
- Do they want a large facility or something smaller?
- Do they prefer to stay in one place for the rest of their lives, and, if their needs increase, be able to age in place at the community you’ve chosen?
- Will your loved one’s insurance cover everything, or will there be some out of pocket expenses?
Once you have the answers, make appointments to see each center. Please note the building’s cleanliness, how they treat the residents, how they greet you and your family, etc. Does the facility have a good reputation? (Checking online reviews and comments will let you know how others feel about the center, too.)
Ask the staff as many questions as you can think of and keep notes to compare the answers when you get home. This is an important decision, so take your time and find the right place for your loved one.
Benefits of a Milwaukee Memory Care Center
Please understand that it is not selfish to move your loved one to a memory care center. Do you spend your days stressing over them? Are you exhausted from running back and forth to help with shopping, dressing, cooking, etc.? Do you drive them to church or doctor’s appointments every week? Are you neglecting your own family or yourself to be with them? It’s time to stop trying to be Superman or Wonder Woman. Even they couldn’t do it all. Frankly, even if you hire a home care agency to help you, it still falls on the family to manage everything.
The most basic principle of memory care is to help residents with their daily activities and to offer them the best quality of life possible. Family members get to exhale and let someone else take over. Here are more benefits and services provided by the best Milwaukee memory care facilities:
Safe and Secure Environment
Just adding a few modifications in the bathroom or better locks on the front door will not keep your family member safer or healthier in their own home. A memory care facility provides a comfortable, secure environment with a well-trained, 24-hour staff. There are handrails in the hallways to help with walking, safety precautions in every room, and proper lighting everywhere. If necessary, medical attention is available immediately.
The staff and caregivers working with dementia patients are specifically trained and receive ongoing education regarding these residents’ issues. They can deliver better physical and cognitive care, be more patient, and provide personal care services for those residents who struggle with daily living activities. The environment is designed especially for the special needs of these residents.
Individual Service Plans
With input from family members, significant others, the primary physician, and the facility case management team, each resident at a Milwaukee memory care facility receives an individual treatment plan. The plan should assess them accurately, have realistic goals, and respond to their changing and unique needs.
Licensed nurses ensure each resident receives ongoing health and psychiatric monitoring. There are annual routine health screenings and visits with specialists, dentists, and other healthcare providers. Medication is monitored through pharmacists and staff and prescribed by a medical doctor.
Leisure Time and Social Activities
Milwaukee memory care facilities offer opportunities to stay active. Even when family members visit or come to help, living alone can contribute to the decline of your loved one’s mental and physical health. Family members are not trained to know what to do and may allow their parent or grandparent to just sit in front of the television or look out the window all day.
Memory care activities are designed for each resident to maximize their involvement and keep them stimulated. Using art and music, for example, residents can express themselves more easily, building a positive sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
A music and memories program uses personalized music to help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients find renewed connections and meaning in their lives. Residents who have fewer verbal abilities often sing along, hum, or tap their feet. The area of the brain that connects memories and music is often unaffected in many people living with dementia. There is magic in music!
Supervised group activities with cultural and religious events also help residents appropriately socialize, productively interact, and stay connected. The staff encourages residents to maintain relationships with loved ones and family members. Residents will have productive one-on-one interactions and independent leisure time as well.
Being sedentary decreases muscle tone; this can lead to balance issues. To boost physical fitness and blood flow, residents are encouraged to walk. They can also attend exercise classes and join yoga sessions uniquely designed for those with memory loss.
Nutritious Meals and Snacks
Are you cooking all the meals for your loved one? Are you concerned about what they’re eating – or if they are eating enough? Those with dementia often forget to have a meal or don’t eat nutrient-dense meals. Milwaukee memory care facilities provide dining experiences to increase food intake and promote independence. For example, residents are offered warm, moist towels before eating to soothe and sanitize their hands and encourage eating.
Villa St. Francis Milwaukee memory care centers serve fresh and nutritious meals three times every day, understanding the medical conditions and special needs of their residents. For those who have difficulty sitting for dining or who no longer use utensils, there are snacks and finger food available. To ensure adequate hydration, a water station is also accessible day and night.
Villa St. Francis Memory Care Programs
To meet the needs of greater Milwaukee citizens who have dementia, Villa St. Francis has established a Memory Care center. Up to 24 residents can live in private apartments on the third floor of their assisted living facility. Their program aims to maintain the highest level of functioning for their residents and maximize their psychosocial and cognitive skills. Villa St. Francis is a structured, warm environment with an atmosphere of hope. Here are just a few of the programs they offer to their residents with dementia:
- Aroma Therapy – Recent studies have shown that using certain scents and oils can calm and relax a person and stimulate their appetite.
- Massage Therapy – Even a brief hand massage has shown to produce a physiological relaxation response and reduce cortisol levels. Rubbing the knuckles and gently pressing on the palm in a circular motion can reduce agitated behavior in dementia patients. This also provides an opportunity for positive interaction between staff and residents.
- Photavia – This is a therapeutic tool to educate, engage, and create experiences for the residents using digital screens.
- Memories in the Making – This program, from the Alzheimer’s Association, offers creative artistic expressions through watercolor painting with a trained facilitator. This process gives individuals with cognitive impairment opportunities to socially engage and discuss interests and meaningful moments in their lives while painting.
- About ME – This is a resource for people with dementia to tell staff, residents, and family about their interests, likes, needs, their history, and background to build relationships. This program recognizes that these residents are just like other individuals with life stories, ideas, values, and preferences.
- Pet Therapy – Companion pets, both real and robotic, and baby dolls provide comfort to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. These animals and dolls foster meaningful connections, happiness, and joy through play.
- Support Groups – Led by social workers and chaplains, support groups provide meaningful sharing and important information for family caregivers. Participants talk honestly and openly about their feelings and how this disease is impacting their family, themselves, and their loved one. The hope is that, through these meetings, the members will gain a sense of control, reduce stress, lessen anxiety and fatigue, and improve coping skills. They can also build friendships with others having the same experiences and feel less isolated.
Don’t Decide on Price Alone
When choosing a memory care facility for your loved one, don’t decide based only on price. You need to consider the center’s reputation and quality of care first. Also, understand that there are different levels of care, depending on your loved one’s needs.
Does your family member require high-level, constant 24-hour care? Do they just need someone to help them get dressed in the morning? Or is it somewhere in between? The answer to these questions will determine what area within Villa St. Francis your loved one will reside.
The difference in care level will also have different costs – the more care, the higher the price. However, having great care will provide peace of mind and reassurance to the entire family, which is priceless.
Doing some research and asking questions will help you make a more informed decision while reviewing all of your options. Generally, after a tour of the center, or even after a phone conversation, most senior living centers will share their prices and discuss alternatives and choices.
The Villa St. Francis Milwaukee Memory Care center will help your family member live the rest of their lives with dignity and purpose. You’ll no longer have to worry about their safety, their home, or their daily health. Instead, you can enjoy visiting them while they listen to their favorite music, meet new people, and take pleasure in life.
Learn More About Memory Care Through Villa St. Francis
Are you unsure of the next steps to take? Contact Villa St. Francis for help. They are a specialized community focused on healthy, hopeful, and fulfilling lives for greater Milwaukee seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They are happy to answer all of your questions.
Call Villa St. Francis today and take a comprehensive tour. They have available apartments for immediate occupancy. This may be the perfect place for your loved one.
Until then, we’re still connecting residents to their families.
The holidays have come and gone but the COVID-19 virus is still at large. Everyone is anxious to spend time with their loved ones and resume normal activities. In assisted living and nursing home communities, this has been an ongoing challenge.
Many have elderly parents or friends in nursing homes or assisted living facilities where restrictions are in place to keep them safe. People are wondering “Can we visit?” and “Is it safe to take our loved ones out for gatherings?” Many fear that their elders are isolated, and depression is at a high.
Thankfully, the vaccines are coming. The state of Wisconsin has already begun vaccinating residents of nursing homes and those in hospitals, along with front-line healthcare workers. Assisted living residents and staff are next. We anticipate that the vaccines should be coming by late January or early February. Both pharmaceutical companies (Moderna and Pfizer) will have a two-stage vaccination process, so people will not be entirely safe until they receive both vaccinations and allow time for them to do their job, so people should continue to practice regular hand washing, safe distancing, and wear masks until we are cleared. We have waited a long time for this, and we’re anxious to be able to resume normal lives again since COVID-19 arrived last year.
One benefit of being in an assisted living facility is that the residents may receive the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than those living in the community. Now is a great time to make a move if you’re considering it. Assisted living and pharmacy staff will handle all the paperwork and provide both doses, and they will submit paperwork to your insurance provider and handle the follow-up. There is no need to register online, wait on hold, or go out since the pharmacy will come right to our doors. Getting vaccinated sooner means that family visits, hugs, and gatherings may soon be in the picture. A target date of March 1 or even mid-March is a great time for a move and to get on the vaccine schedule.
What we do know now is that not only will the vaccine help keep you from getting sick, it will also help us reach a “herd immunity.” The more people who are immune, the faster the virus stops spreading. The vaccine will not give you COVID-19, as some think. There could be some side effects, but the vaccine does not actually make you test positive for the coronavirus. Two vaccinations are done, and until we are cleared, we need to continue to practice precautions that are in place and continue masking.
We want to spend more time with our parents and loved ones, but until we are cleared and vaccinated, what alternatives do we have?
One way to stay connected is through Skype and FaceTime visits. Sometimes calling frequently and speaking to your loved one isn’t enough, and it’s really important to see them. Many communities have staff assisting residents and providing the necessary technology to make this happen. A scheduled appointment works very well in this case.
Window visits work well for some, but not all. Many places have restrictions with opening windows because that can spread infection, and the cold weather may prohibit this anyway. And for residents who do not have ground floor access, this doesn’t work unless they are able to use public space or a balcony. I’ve been privileged to be involved in the planning of some amazing events that families arranged. One resident turned 90, and her family did a drive-by caravan through the parking lot, complete with large signs and police cars with sirens. It brought tears to my eyes. The resident was so touched, and her family had so much fun doing this socially-distanced event.
I’ve also seen families bring birthdays to third-floor residents by bringing balloons and singing from the parking lot while the resident came to the balcony. It’s not the same as being there for hugs, but it is still a way to connect.
If you’re looking for more ways to connect with your loved one, what about a family Zoom call? Delivering a home-cooked meal to your loved one is a great idea too. What about a short video that staff can play for your loved one? You can also send a gift package or make a tape or CD of their favorite music to play in their apartment.
We love connecting our residents with their families during this difficult time. If you’d like to see what we’re doing at Villa St. Francis Assisted Living to stay connected, please visit our Facebook page.
By Patty Murdock, Director of Marketing at Villa St. Francis Assisted Living and Memory Care